Microsoft Offers Beta Testers SP1, 64-Bit Editions

Redmond says it is still on track to deliver final SP1 and 64-bit Windows products in the first half of 2005.

Microsoft will make available to beta testers an updated release of its Windows Server 2003 SP1 (Service Pack 1), its new 64-bit edition of Windows XP and its 64-bit editions of Windows Server 2003 on Tuesday evening.

AT 6 p.m. PST, the company is set to post for download the new "Release Candidate 2" (RC2) beta builds of SP1 and its x64 editions, company officials confirmed.

SP1 is the underlying technology upon which the x64 releases and Windows Server 2003 R2 build.

It will consist primarily of security fixes akin to those Microsoft delivered with Windows XP Service Pack 2, plus a new Security Configuration Wizard.

The final versions of SP1 and the x64 Windows client and server editions are due in the first half of 2005.

Some industry watchers have pegged April as the likely final delivery date, since that is when Microsoft will be holding its annual WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering) conference.

Microsoft officials said there are no major feature changes between the Release Candidate 1 builds of SP1 and the x64 Server editions, which Microsoft made available in December 2004, and RC2.

"The difference between RC1 and RC2 really is one of increased robustness as Microsoft prepares for the final RTM," or release to manufacturing, a company spokeswoman said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Inches Closer to Final Windows Server 2003 Service Pack, 64-Bit Releases

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