What to Expect in Windows Server 2003 SP1

Any day now, Microsoft plans to put out the Release Candidate version of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

In the works for about 20 months already and much longer by the time the final version ships (expected in the first half of 2005), SP1 is both more and less anticipated than other first service packs for Windows operating systems.

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On the one hand, the increasing stability of Microsoft operating systems make any Service Pack 1 much less of a hurdle that Microsoft must clear before customers are willing to deploy. On the other hand, Windows Server 2003 SP1 is more than just a service pack. It's the second stage of the "Springboard" security project that started with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Like Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1 will bring brand new security functionality to the operating system. Planned improvements that are already appearing in interim builds of the service pack are a Security Configuration Wizard, porting of the Windows Firewall from Windows XP to Windows Server 2003 and new quarantining functionality for RAS and VPN connections. Aside from features, security is also being improved through support for Data Execution Prevention, boot-time network protection for clean installs and a new wave of security guidance.

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While Microsoft has not seemed to be in a hurry to deliver SP1, much of the company's critical Windows server roadmap is in fact riding on the release. SP1 will serve as the foundation for the Windows Server x64 editions and the Windows Server 2003 "R2" release.

Next: Why Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 Matters

About the Author

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