They say that the best writing is rewriting. To me, the same idea goes for reading or watching episodes of SpongeBob—but not for doing taxes.
If the concept of rewriting has universal application, then Microsoft developers should be very, very good by now, because there isnt one piece of Windows, Office or other Microsoft code that hasnt been rewritten and distributed in the form of a service pack.
Windows 98, 98 SE and ME all were essentially service packs for Windows 95. Windows 2000 has been issued four service packs, along with countless Internet Explorer patch roll-ups.
The major Windows XP rewrite, SP2, composed mostly of security fixes, came out last August. Windows Server 2003 SP1 came out late last month, two years after the original product was released. (Look for an eWEEK Labs review in the coming weeks.) Microsoft should consider updating the name from "2003" while its at it.
The company has been chided for this practice over the years, with some justification. "Get it right the first time" or "Dont ship it until its ready" have been the most frequent complaints. Ive even blasted the company myself several times for this fix-by-service-pack strategy.
I now think, however, that this argument has lost some of its spark. For one, theres no logic to it. Microsoft and Windows are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Railing against service packs is like tilting at windmills, a futile exercise.
If youve invested the money and time in deploying XP in your home or business, for instance, you have to live with it and all its flaws, at least until the next service pack.
If you were worried about the security, or lack thereof, in XP, you should have stuck with Windows 2000 (SP4) or gone to another platform.