Microsoft Confirms XP SP2 for 2004

Representatives for the Windows client team confirmed a BetaNews report that Windows XP Service Pack 2 will not be delivered until 2004.

Microsoft refused to call the decision a "delay," due to the fact that no timeframe for SP2 was officially disclosed. But the news caught many Windows enthusiasts and analysts off guard, as a release before the end of 2003 was long expected.

Adding to the confusion, Microsoft's Jim Allchin stated at the company's Financial Analyst Meeting last month that SP2 would ship in fiscal year 2004, which began July 1, making the end of calendar year 2003 a realistic target for delivery.

The extended development period for SP2 came to light via Microsoft's Product Lifecycle Web site, which places the second Windows XP upgrade in Q3 2004.

However, a company spokesperson characterized that date as conservative and told BetaNews that Microsoft is currently shooting for a "mid-2004 release." Microsoft is considering updating its Web site to reflect the adjustment, but no changes had been made by press time.

The spokesperson attributed the difference to a communications disconnect between the Windows client and server groups. The Windows server team handles publishing of such product road maps, and was not entirely in sync with the intentions of the client team.

Despite the long gap between SP1 and SP2, Microsoft says it has no plans for an interim Windows XP update at this time. In a recent chat session regarding the Blaster Internet worm, Microsoft product manager John Hazen said, "We do not currently have plans to create a Security Rollup Package for Windows XP, but are exploring ways to make these fixes more readily available and easier to install together."

Windows Update has worked so well that Microsoft says it can now be more flexible with how it rolls out larger updates. Windows XP Service Pack 2 is indicative of this change in thinking, as the company plans to include some new features in addition to usual fixes.

"Microsoft is discovering that more and more customers are using the Windows Update Service to get updates "real time," rather than wait for the release of a service pack," said a spokesperson for the Windows client team.

"We noticed this with SP1, as there was not a tremendous build of anticipation for the SP release. With the Windows Update program, many customers already had taken advantage of the updated code made available to them by the time of the SP1 release."

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