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Microsoft Ships Release Candidate for Windows Server 2003 SP2

Microsoft is shipping the first release candidate or RC of Service Pack 2 for Windows Server 2003, with final availability scheduled for the first quarter of 2007.

Besides providing a cumulative update to Windows Server 2003, the update also provides many refinements to the system, according to Microsoft statements posted online.

SP2 includes Microsoft Management Console 3.0, which provides new and improved command line management tools. It also provides support for improved security, including Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2).

In addition, SP2 features performance improvements when running SQL Server 2005, as well as for network scalability and virtualization, company statements said. A new firewall per port authentication capability is meant to secure traffic between extranet environments and internal assets that are protected using IPsec domain isolation.

SP2 is the first service pack that patches both Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 via a single update. In addition, it also updates Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2) with a single install experience.

There are two versions of SP2. A standalone version is available at the Microsoft Download Center, on Windows Update, and on CD. It installs over any existing Windows Server 2003 (RTM or Service Pack 1) or Windows XP Profession x64 editions.

There is also an integrated version for Windows Server 2003 R2 editions with Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2003 for Itanium-based systems, Windows Server 2003 Web Edition, and Windows XP X64 Professional. The integrated version comes on two CDs -- the first containing the base operating system updates and the second containing updates for Release 2. The RC of Windows 2003 SP2 is available for download here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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