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Windows 2000 SP4 Available

Microsoft on Thursday officially posted the fourth service pack for Windows 2000. SP4 comes about 11 months after Service Pack 3 and, like SP3, is a recommended update. The fix list includes more than 650 issues with an emphasis on security, application and hardware compatibility, Windows 2000 setup and operating system reliability.

Service packs are collections of hotfixes that have been tested far more thoroughly than hotfixes, which are generally rushed out to fix a security or stability crisis. Microsoft generally encourages customers to use service packs over hotfixes when possible.

Microsoft gives several options for obtaining the service pack. Users can order it on CD or download it in one of three packages. A network installation option is a 129 MB download. There is an Express Installation for Windows 2000 Professional that checks in at 16 MB and an Express Installation for Windows 2000 Server that comes over the pipe at 28 MB.

The collection of bug fixes and functionality adjustments can be applied to Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 with the Server Appliance Kit.

Following Microsoft's recent practice, this service pack includes a few new features in addition to the bug fixes. The service pack adds support for USB 2.0 and support for 802.1x, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

As it did in SP3, Microsoft also made some legal changes in SP4. "Microsoft has also updated End User License Agreements with SP4," the spokeswoman said. "Changes were made in the 'Automatic Internet-Based Services' language in the EULA, and now alerts the customer that they can turn off certain features they may not want to enable, providing better disclosure and more control."

In Service Pack 3, Microsoft had introduced legal changes required by its antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Much as it did in Windows XP Service Pack 1, Microsoft added functionality in Windows 2000 SP3 for hiding some middleware including Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

SP4 was available at a Microsoft download site on Wednesday afternoon, but links to documentation were not live until Thursday.

The patch and full documentation are available here: www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp4/default.asp.

This does not appear to be the last service pack for Windows 2000. At this point, Microsoft plans to deliver a Service Pack 5 for Windows 2000. In recent hotfixes, including an important security bulletin Wednesday involving a vulnerability with Windows Media Services in Windows 2000 servers, Microsoft has indicated that the fixes would be included in Windows 2000 SP5. In the Windows NT 4.0 generation, Microsoft delivered six service packs and a security rollup package.

Windows 2000 was originally released in February of 2000. Mainstream support is scheduled to last through March 31, 2005.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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