Microsoft Details SP2 for Windows Server 2003, XP x64

Microsoft has finally ended its silence about the upcoming releases of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition SP2, which the company is developing in tandem and expects to ship by the end of the year. According to a posting to the Windows Server team blog by Ward Ralston, Microsoft will ship a single SP2 release that will cover all 32-bit and x64 versions of Windows 2003, Windows 2003 R2, and Windows 2003 for Itanium-based Systems, as well as XP x64.

"Windows Server 2003 SP2 is back to a ‘standard’ service pack from Microsoft," Ralston wrote, noting that the previous SP1 release made "some pretty big changes to the way we do security," and "introduced a cycle of application testing and some compatibility issues." Ralston noted that SP2 will include all previously released Security Bulletin Updates; roll-ups of all individual hotfixes since Microsoft first released Windows 2003; fixes to increase reliability, robustness, and security; a collection of customer-requested features; and features to support Windows Vista.

In addition, Windows 2003 SP2 will offer a few new features, including Windows Deployment Services, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2.0, the Scalable Networking Pack, per-port firewall authentication capabilities, and some performance improvements for Windows Virtualization. Some of these features, such as the Scalable Networking Pack and MMC 3.0, are available separately as discrete downloads.

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