WS SP1: Let Microsoft Make Its Own Apologies

Windows Update will allow Microsoft Small Business Server admins to install Service Pack 1-even though this causes "serious issues."

This morning I turned on my computer and had barely sat down when an IM from my friend and fellow Microsoft SBS admin, Susan Bradley, appeared. "Dont install SP1," it read, the service pack in question being the brand new release for Windows Server 2003.

It turns out that Microsoft Small Business Server, which is based on WS 2003, has some "issues" with Service Pack 1. These are serious enough that the service pack is best left alone for now.

Ms. Bradley, an accountant, is also a member of the Microsoft MVP program that provides free tech help to folks like you and me. MVPs work fairly closely with some of the Microsoft product teams.

Her next IM included a link to her SBS blog, where I found this message:

"Im an SBSer. And I feel that I represent the SBS community to Microsoft.

"I feel like Ive let the community down today.

"I didnt represent you well enough to the Windows Update team. I didnt understand what the impact of the normal Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 was on our SBS boxes. I didnt follow the beta closely enough to fully understand that it would have impact. I didnt understand that a Service Pack that has impact on our SBS boxes would be offered up at the top of the window in Windows Update today.

"I let you down. For that I apologize."

What Susan is apologizing for is that Microsoft is offering Windows Server 2003 SP1 to SBS admins who use the manual Windows Update process. That would make it easy for people to install software that even Microsoft says is likely to damage their systems.

Heres what Microsoft describes as a "short list" of the problems:

  • Remote Access Wizard hangs when creating the connection manager package
  • Small Business Server Change IP tool will fail
  • Change IP tool will continue to fail after uninstall of WS SP1. Workaround: Remove WS SP1, disable DHCP, rerun CEICW
  • Power Users retain SharePoint Administration privileges even after the role is changed to Reader
  • Re-Install of Exchange fails
  • Re-Install of Intranet component fails
  • Fax Services wont start and the Fax Configuration Wizard cannot be run after uninstalling Windows Server SP1
  • DHCP service may not start after a restore

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols column arguing that SP1 should be approached with caution.

Microsoft says it hopes to have a fix in 60 days with an SP1 specifically for Small Business Server. In the meantime, Redmonds advice is to live with the problems or uninstall SP1 and hope for the best. Susans advice is to never install it in the first place.

Microsoft should have put a block on Windows Update that would have prevented WS SP1 from being offered to SBS users. Susan hopes the block will still be added. In the future, she has promised to "make it my personal goal to ensure that the patching goals at Microsoft include a goal that if a service pack of any kind adversely affects us that it will be blocked in Windows Update and will not be offered up to you if you go to Windows Update."

Thats a noble and altruistic goal, but even if youre an involved volunteer, even if you feel you "represent" a specific user community to Redmond, a customer should never be made to feel like he or she needs to apologize for something Microsoft has done.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo read more about Windows Server 2003 SP1, click here.

Microsoft needs to make its own apologies to its customers. It can start by blocking SP1 on Windows Update so SBS admins wont accidentally install it. It should offer whatever handholding customers who have installed SP1 need to get their systems working properly. It would also be nice for Bill and Steve to send Ms. Bradley some flowers.

After all, being a customer should mean never having to say youre sorry, especially for something Microsoft has done.

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