The final version of Service Pack 4 (SP4) for Windows 2000, which is designed to iron out more than 600 security, performance and reliability issues contained in the software, appears to have been posted on Microsoft's Web site.
However, so far, there is no mention of it on Microsoft's site apart from the existence of the 129MB file, and Microsoft itself seemed confused on Thursday morning about the download.
Forum site Neowin posted a link to the SP4 download on Wednesday, claiming it to be the final release. Microsoft could not confirm that the download was the final version of SP4. A Microsoft spokesman told ZDNet UK: "SP4 is due relatively soon," but declined to give a public release date.
A beta version of SP4 has been available to testers since October 2002, two months after the final version of Service Pack 3 was made public. SP4 contains all the bug fixes that were included in previous service packs, so if users have not installed any of the older service packs, SP4 will bring their operating systems up to date.
When Windows 2000 was first launched, Bill Gates said in a TV interview that Microsoft had "come up with breakthrough ways to assure its reliability" and hailed the operating system as the most important product launch since Windows 95. However, at around the same time, the operating system was ridiculed by one of Microsoft's key developers for containing 63,000 known defects and bugs. The first Service Pack was released less than six months later. The latest apparently has 675 bug fixes.
Both the Network Install version of SP4, which is 129MB in size, and an express install version, which is a modest 600Kb, are available from the download section of Microsoft's Web site.
Network administrators are likely to have to install two more major updates by the end of this year in the form of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 2.
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