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MS quietly releases Win 2003 SP2

Second update enjoys stealthy debut

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Microsoft has released a major update to Windows Server 2003 to make the enterprise software package more stable and easier to manage.

The low-key debut of Win 2003 SP2 on Monday, which took some sys admins by surprise, contrasts with the high profile launch of Win XP SP2 in August 2004. So stealthy was the release that it's yet to be noted on Microsoft's product update blog.

And the release is certainly worth noting. Win 2003 SP2 - which also applies to users of 64-bit editions of Windows XP Professional - includes a number of bug fixes along with new features.

The release includes a new XML parser (dubbed XmlLite), support for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, an improved management console, support for firewall per port authentication, improvements to the implementation of the IPSec security protocol, and improved networking features (as explained here).

The 372 MB release has been undergoing testing for nine months since June 2006.

Alongside release of the update, the software giant published a deferment tool designed to assist organisations who want to avoid the automatic update of Windows 2003 servers until they've had a chance to test the software.

In related news, an optional update to XP SP2 designed to resolve a system crashing bug was made available as a general release earlier this month through Windows Update, the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre reports. ®

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