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Windows Server 2003 refresh pushed back

Microsoft has issued a new release schedule for the first service pack for Windows Server 2003, as well as a 64-bit version of Windows.

Two Windows releases have been delayed to accommodate the scheduled release of Windows XP Service Pack 2. The two are among several Microsoft products to be put on hold for the much-anticipated refresh of its desktop operating system.

The first service pack for Windows Server 2003, which includes bug fixes and some new security features, such as a revamped configuration wizard, was due to ship by the end of 2004. It is now scheduled for release in the first half of 2005, the company said. Windows Server for 64-bit Extended Systems has been delayed until mid-2005.

The releases are tied to the release of XP SP 2, which won't head to manufacturing until August, a month later than originally expected. "With both desktop and server service packs, compatibility issues [with each other] are critical," said Rob

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Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, in San Jose, Calif.

"They want to turn everything off that they can, but [Microsoft] thinks too many applications won't work, and so people won't apply the [service packs]," Enderle said. "The compatibility side of this is much more difficult to work out than the security side," he said.

Windows Server for 64-bit Extended Systems is a platform for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same system. Microsoft is excited about Windows Server for 64-bit Extended Systems because it will help move people off a lot of the old applications, Enderle said. The 64-bit applications are considered the most secure current-generation platform from Microsoft.

"And everything is gated by everything else," he said. "When one thing shifts, everything else shifts too."

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