by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]
Late last week, Microsoft posted on its Web site an interesting
document that outlined the company's release plans for various Windows
service packs. The document listed "Q3 2004" as the release date for
Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), prompting reports that Microsoft will
delay the service pack, originally due late this year, until late
2004. A little fact-checking goes a long way, however, and after
conferring with various Microsoft representatives, I've confirmed that
"Q3 2004" is, indeed, a typo. That's the good news. The bad news is
that the service pack is still shipping a lot later than originally
expected--not until the first half of 2004.
"Unfortunately, that Web site is incorrect," a Microsoft
representative told me yesterday. "Windows XP Service Pack 2 will
actually ship by mid-2004, and we announced this date at the annual
Financial Analysts Meeting last month." Microsoft Group Vice President
Jim Allchin did note at the meeting that SP2 will ship by mid-2004.
"We have Service Pack 2 for Windows XP coming out this fiscal year,"
he said. Because Microsoft's fiscal year runs from July 1, 2003, to
June 30, 2004, "fiscal 2004" refers to that time frame, not calendar
year 2004. The schedule Allchin announced, I was told, is still
The Microsoft representative also told me that XP SP2 won't include
any major new features but will instead consist of all the bug and
security fixes Microsoft has published since XP's release in October
2001. That fact makes the schedule nonsensical, however. If XP SP2
contains only updates, it should ship immediately, not in 6 months; XP
SP1 shipped almost a year ago and the number of post-SP1 updates now
available on Windows Update is staggering, especially for modem users.
Contrary to previous reports, upcoming products such as Windows XP
Media Center Edition "V2," Windows XP Tablet PC Edition "V2," and
Windows Powered Smart Displays "V2"--all due by the end of calendar
year 2003--don't rely on XP SP2, the representative told me.
On a related note, reports about an XP "mini security service pack"
are also unfounded. Microsoft told me that the company currently has
no plans to ship such an interim service pack.
Windows Service Pack Road Map