Microsoft: Windows 2000 SP3 Due Soon

Indicating SP3 is near completion, Microsoft Wednesday released to testers a release candidate refresh, 3.151.

Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 is on track to make its summer deadline despite numerous delays that pushed the long-awaited update from a planned early 2002 release. Indicating SP3 is near completion, Microsoft today made available to testers a release candidate refresh, marked build 3.151.

"Thank you for all your help in testing Windows 2000 Service Pack 3. We are getting very close to our final build and would appreciate it if you could download and test our current release candidate, build 3.151 without delay," Microsofts Sustained Engineering Team wrote in an e-mail to beta testers. "Since we are so close to the end of this product cycle, we will need your feedback in the newsgroup right away."

Service Pack 3 will include a slew of security and compatibility updates, along with support for automatic updates. With SP3, network administrators can set Windows 2000 to automatically download or schedule updates to the operating system.

Due to the companys antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice and nine states, Microsoft has included a new configuration pane in SP3 called Configure Programs. Users will be given the option to override Microsoft defaults and select a custom Web browser, e-mail client, media player, instant messenger, and Java virtual machine. The pane will also feature an option to hide integrated Windows components such as Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player.

Microsoft began beta testing SP3 last November, but faced multiple issues -- including a security code review in February -- that constantly delayed its release.

The lag sparked rumors earlier this month that SP3 was delayed indefinitely due to problems with Microsoft Installer 2.0, which was to be dropped from the update all together. But a Microsoft official dispelled such hearsay in a newsgroup posting, stating MSI 2.0 "will be included in Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 when it releases this summer."