The Redmond, Washington-based company officially released its second collection of Windows 2000 bug fixes, or service pack. Microsoft on its Web site lists four pages of problems fixed by this update.
The Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 leaked onto the Web over the weekend. The 101MB file is the second service pack issued for Windows 2000.
The first, also leaked before its official release, failed to ignite Windows 2000 sales as many analysts and industry experts had expected. Groups such as Gartner and IDC had recommended that businesses wait until the release of the first service pack before making the switch to Windows 2000.
The bug fixes are available for download from Microsoft's Web site. The company also offers the service pack on CD for US$19.95, which includes shipping and handling fees.
Microsoft says the service pack addresses four basic areas: application compatibility, security, Windows 2000 setup and operating system reliability. One of the biggest changes is the switch to 128-bit from 56-bit encryption. Because earlier versions of Windows 2000 required that companies manually update software to manage 128-bit encryption, many may have been running software with less than adequate security.
The bugs fixed by Service Pack 2 vary from small annoyances to serious problems. Among them:
USB devices missing when computer restarts from hibernation;
Inability to read CDs created by Roxio's DirectCD software;
Fans not working on some IBM ThinkPad portables;
Memory leaks in a wide variety of applications;
Quality of Service sockets consuming 100 percent of processor resources;
User access denied when computer disconnected from network; and
Truncated Pentium 4 brand ID when viewed in system properties.
The release of the collection of bug fixes is expected to have little effect on Windows 2000 sales, analysts say.
"While a service pack almost never hurts, I haven't spoken to anyone who's told me they're waiting for SP2 to deploy," said Gartner analyst Michael Silver. "We'll have to see if there's anything in here that will actually motivate people to move."
Gartner recommends that its customers "wait a few weeks to see what issues early adopters have with the (service pack) and to always test in a lab before trying to put this into production", Silver added.
Still, in a 10-Q form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, Microsoft largely credited fiscal 2001 third-quarter desktop operating system revenue growth to Windows 2000 sales.
"Continued strong adoption of Windows 2000 Professional contributed significantly to the strong revenue growth," the document states. "However, the slowdown in overall PC shipments compared to growth rates in the prior year hampered revenue growth from Windows Me and Windows 98 operating systems."
Microsoft reported desktop operating system sales of US$6 billion the first nine months of its fiscal year, up 14 percent from the same period a year earlier.