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

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 has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Does this mean we get to wait even LONGER for fixes?

    It's bad enough as it is.
  • OH NOES!!

    I bet Skype is trembling in their knees at this announcement. ;)
  • Vista SP2 will equal Server 2008 SP2

    There will be no Server 2008 SP1. Or more specifically, the "RTM" version of Server 2008 will actually be SP1. (Just like how there was no SP0 for XP x64 edition -- it started off at SP1).

    This is a good move -- just like with Windows 2000, a single patch will apply to both Vista and Server 2008. The forking nonsense with Server 2003 resulted in a huge unnecessary cost.

    Plus I'd say the percent of common code is closer to 80-90%, not 50%... just do a comparison of the files in c:\windows\system32 and you'll see they're nearly all shared.

    P.S. Thanks Mary Jo for being on top of this :-p ... for how many months have I posted in talkbacks (not necessarily yours though) that Vista SP1 equals Server 2008 in (nearly) every sense of the word "equals"?
  • RE: Microsoft to sync its future Windows client and server fixes and updates

    i'm certainly no expert on this but i really do worry that vista sp1 using the server kernel is going to break things that work now. i also worry that microsoft will delay fixes because they have to test them on both server and client versions of windows whereas now fixes can be tested on just the client side for at least some client only issues. plus--the fixes will cause problems in the server or the client version of windows because of unexpected problems in those halves of the code.
    • No "server kernel"

      The NT kernel is shared across both client (Vista) and server (2008) editions. It's the same as Windows 2000 was, and how Server 2003 was equal to XP x64.

      It's wrong to say "Vista's now getting the Server kernel" -- the "Server kernel" is just an SP1 version of the Vista (NT 6.0) kernel.

      Read my above post -- 80-90% of the code between Vista and Server 2008 is "common". Files that are specific to one edition over the other, won't be present on the other edition, and so there is no possibility of them causing unexpected problems to the other.
  • Active Directory = Novel Directory Services in Windows Server 2008

    Tell me this isn't true: Active Directory is NDS in Windows Server 2008. Pure reasoning brings us to this conclusion. We already know that Windows Server 2008 contain a virtual SUSE Linux.

    Hell froze over in November of 2006. The world had one less hell that day. Only devils who stubbornly try to maintain their way over the highway remain. There numbers are fewer and fewer.

    Frank L. Mighetto CCP
    US citizen