A tale of two Windows Service Packs

Summary:If Microsoft's Windows Server team is able to juggle service packs and new server releases, why can't the Windows client team do the same?

If Microsoft's Windows Server team is able to juggle service packs and new server releases, why can't the Windows client team do the same?

Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 isn't expected until some time in 2008, at last count, which means XP users will have had to wait four years between service packs if and when SP3 finally does ship. On the server side of the house, it looks like the waiting time between SP releases is shaping up to be roughy two years.

Last month, Microsoft quietly (foot)noted that the due date for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack (SP) 2 had slipped from the second half of 2006 to Q1 2007.

On November 14, Microsoft reconfirmed that it would hit the early 2007 date, and rolled out the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of SP2. Testers who are part of Microsoft's Customer Preview Program will be able download the RC build on Tuesday.

Microsoft officials have said the SP2 release will deliver critical, non-critical and customer-requested updates. It also will include security, reliability, performance and manageability tweaks, the Softies said, including:

* Windows Deployment Services updates that will allow users to deploy both Longhorn Server and Windows Vista;

* A Scalable Networking Pack designed to help companies scale their network-based applications;

* Microsoft Management Console 3.0, which adds new snap-in management tools; and

* Tweaks designed to make IPSec more manageable. Microsoft rolled out SP1 for Windows Server 2003 in March 2005.

In related news, Microsoft reconfirmed on Tuesday that Beta 3 of Longhorn Server is due out in "the first half of 2007." (A month ago, Microsoft officials hinted that it could hit in Q1 of next year.) And a public beta of Microsoft's hypervisor virtualization layer -- due to ship 120 days after Longhorn Server -- is set to hit in Q1 2007, as well.

Back to the original question with which I started this post: Given what the Windows Server team seemingly is able to pull off, is it any wonder that some industry watchers believe Microsoft is intentionally holding up SP3 for Windows XP in an attempt to get more users to upgrade to Windows Vista?

Topics: Windows


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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