Microsoft to sync its future Windows client and server fixes and updates

Summary:Lost in the pre-Labor-Day shuffle in the news around Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 was Microsoft's plan to synchronize its Windows client and server fixes and updates, starting next year. What will this mean to users and admins? Read on.

Lost in the pre-Labor-Day shuffle in the news around Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 was Microsoft's plan to synchronize its Windows client and server fixes and updates, starting next year.

Officials have been saying for more than a year (and then attempting to cover up) that their game plan was to deliver Vista SP1 simultaneously with Windows Server 2008. But they've said little until now about their plans to release updates for Windows client and server, following the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows Server 2008

(By the way, speaking of Vista SP1, invitations are out for the beta build that's slated to go to 10,000 to 15,000 testers, sometime in the next week or so, if Microsoft sticks to schedule. According to a copy of the invitation posted by, Microsoft is including more Windows Server 2008 testers in the test program.)

Given that Microsoft is using the same code base for client and server now, aligning fixes for the two products should, in theory be easier.

"With (Vista) SP1 and Windows Server 2008, for all the components shared (between client and server), we actually made them the same," said Bill Laing, General Manager of Microsoft's Windows Server Division. "With Windows XP and Windows Serer 2003, we forked the code and so had two different sets of code. Even the modules with the same names weren't identical. That meant things had to be fixed twice."

Going forward, Laing said (as did General Manager of Windows Product Management Shanen Boettcher before him), the plan is to release a single fix that can be applied to  the elements of Windows client and server that are shared. Laing estimates that more than 50 percent of the code in Windows client and server is common. The elements that aren't are things like Windows Media Center, which is client only, and the high-performance/clustering and Active Directory code that is unique to Windows Server.

Will this mean that Microsoft will be issuing service packs for Windows client and server in tandem, going forward? Can we count on Vista SP2 shipping simultaneously with Windows Server 2008 SP1 (and including many of the same fixes and updates)?

"It's a policy decision as to whether to release them simultaneously, or one first, then the other," Laing said. But Microsoft is well aware that not syncing up fixes and updates "can be painful, especially for the support guys," Laing acknowledged.

At the very least, However, it sounds like the interim fixes and updates for Windows that Microsoft pushes out via Windows Update, Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) will be aligned. Whether the actual service packs themselves will be aligned is still up in the air.

Would you prefer Microsoft to get its service packs for Windows Server and Windows client in sync, going forward?

Topics: Servers, Microsoft, 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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