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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, March 31, 2005

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In the News

- Windows Server 2003 SP1 Ships

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Windows Server 2003 SP1 Ships

Microsoft has released the final shipping version of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), the long-awaited security update. Windows 2003 SP1 was a long time coming--the initial version of Windows 2003 shipped almost 2 years ago--but it includes substantial security updates, some new features, and even performance improvements across the board. For these and other reasons, Microsoft says that all Windows 2003 customers should install SP1 as soon as possible.
"With Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, our development team took the time to treat the root cause of many security issues, not just the symptoms," Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia said. "This service pack is very significant and should help address certain classes of exploits. Service Pack 1 is a major component of our overall strategy to help keep customers as secure as possible. I encourage all of our Windows Server 2003 customers to deploy Service Pack 1."
Some of the new security technologies in Windows 2003 SP1 include:
- Security Configuration Wizard (SCW). The SCW provides a new way to configure not just server roles, but server security based on which roles the machine needs to perform. The SCW can lock down ports, services, and other server features.
- Windows Firewall. First released as part of Windows XP SP2, the Windows Firewall is generally off by default in Windows 2003 SP1. However, Windows Firewall is enabled by default on new installations and during boot-up and setup to protect the system from new classes of attacks.
- Post-Setup Security Updates (PSSU). When Windows 2003 with SP1 is installed on a new server, network connectivity to the system is shut off until an administrator configures Automatic Updates and downloads any critical software updates that might have shipped since SP1 was first released.

Interestingly, SP1 increases overall server performance, which is unusual for a service pack. "The performance improvements are like the frosting on the cake," Sam Distasio, a group product manager for Windows Server, told me during a briefing yesterday. Depending on the workload, the performance increase can be somewhat dramatic. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) performance, for example, increases 50 percent with SP1 installed, because support for that technology has been moved into the kernel with Http.sys (which was moved into the kernel in the initial release of Windows 2003). Web hosts will also see big improvements, with a 40 percent to 80 percent startup time reduction, depending on the number of hosted sites. Overall, networking tasks affect the processor 50 percent less than before.

Windows 2003 SP1 is now shipping for Windows 2003 Web, Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter Editions. And in the sales channel, Windows 2003 will be replaced with a new version that's integrated with SP1. A company representative told me that an SP1 release for Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 will ship within 60 days. This product will include all the changes from Windows 2003 SP1, plus the latest service packs for all that product's bundled servers, including Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server. Microsoft will integrate the fixes for those products into one simple installation package. Also, two other products, Windows 2003 x64 Edition and XP Professional x64 Edition, were finalized along with SP1 and will be made available to customers in late April.
Windows 2003 SP1 is free. Customers interested in downloading the update can visit the Microsoft Download Center (see the URL below) or use Windows Update. Microsoft is also providing a wide range of deployment documentation for SP1. For more information about Windows 2003 SP1, see my preview on the SuperSite for Windows.

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (32 bit)

==== Events and Resources ====

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