Microsoft Offers to Block Windows Server 2003 SP1

As it did with Windows XP Service Pack 2, Microsoft is making available to enterprise users a blocking tool that will temporarily halt SP1 downloads.

Microsoft made available on Tuesday a "Blocker tool kit" that will allow companies to temporarily disable automatic downloads of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

The toolkit, which will function almost identically to the Windows XP SP2 (Service Pack 2) blocking tool that Microsoft offered to customers last year, is available as a free download from the Web site.

Microsoft made Windows Server 2003 SP1 available for download via the Web in late March. SP1, primarily a collection of security-oriented fixes and updates, also is slated to be available to customers via Automatic Update and Windows Update starting in July.

Since the company released SP1 to the Web, Microsoft officials said there have been about two million downloads of the service pack, which also serves as the foundation for the new 64-bit Windows Server 2003 releases that Microsoft rolled out this spring.

As was the situation with Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1 is incompatible with some Microsoft and third-party applications. (Microsoft said fewer than 10 percent of server applications that it tested were found to be incompatible, and that many of those applications have been patched.)

Because of potential incompatibilities, as well as other corporate testing and deployment policies, some customers may "require additional time to prepare for the download and deployment of SP1," Microsoft officials acknowledged.

The SP1 blocking tool will block the automatic download of SP1 until March 30, 2006, but it will not block other Microsoft security updates, according to the Redmond, Wash., software vendor.

Microsoft is not expecting many users to take advantage of the tool. "Most enterprises manage updates via SMS [Systems Management Server] and Windows Server Update Services, so this affects only a handful of enterprise customers," according to a statement released by the company.

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