The release date for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 has been pushed back from the second half of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007, and some users think that's just fine.
At the same time, Microsoft made available Beta Refresh 2 for Windows Server 2003 SP2. The beta includes fixes for bugs reported by beta customers and other users of previous SP2 builds and hotfixes and security releases to date. The refresh also has a fix for volume licensing customers using Windows XP Professional 64-bit Edition.
Some IT managers welcome the SP2 delay and said they believe the upcoming release dates for Vista and Longhorn may be to blame.
"I'm happy with the delay -- maybe this means they're going to get it right," said Dan Stolts, president and senior systems engineer at Bay State Integrated Technology Inc. in Lakeville, Mass. "I'm guessing they're probably pulling off developers because they're really focused on trying to meet the timeline for Vista and Longhorn."
Stolts said that he has been testing Vista and believes Microsoft still has a long way to go to deploy a solid product within the timeframe it set. Vista is expected to be released to manufacturing in November and to the general public in January. Microsoft said the SP2 delay is related to incorporating customer feedback from beta testing to date.
Microsoft has also pushed back the release of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP until the first half of 2008. The company released the last service pack for XP in August 2004.
"I'm personally disappointed," said Mike Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash. "Microsoft talks about maintaining a roadmap of releases for customers. That, in my mind, should include predictive [roadmaps] for service packs, and it's been a significant amount of time since we've had a service pack for XP."
Josh MacNeil, assistant director of technology services and network operations for the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District in Whitman, Mass., said the delays will have little -- if any -- impact on his organization because the district is moving to Vista over the summer.
"We already implemented the Windows Server 2003 R2 version after Service Pack 1, so I don't see the [Windows Server 2003] SP2 delay as a problem or the 2008 delay for [Windows XP] SP3," MacNeil said. "As long as you've been on top of the critical upgrades and enhancements, you shouldn't have a problem with this."
However, Cherry said there are a few reasons why IT organizations, whether moving to Vista or not, should be concerned. For one, a Vista rollout is not going to happen overnight, and many companies will be running in a mix mode of operating systems until the Vista rollout is complete, he said.
"We also all live on the same network," Cherry said. "Because of that, even if I run in Vista and others run on XP and are not patched correctly, they are going to hammer me with spam," he said. "The attitude that I'm safe doesn't work if a chain in the link doesn't stay up to date."