UPDATED: Microsoft has quietly pushed back the third official service pack for Windows XP to 2008. Whether or not this is an issue seems to be one for debate.
This isn’t the only service pack that’s pulling a Godot, according to Microsoft’s Service Pack Road Map. The second service pack for Windows Server 2003 has been pushed back from late 2006 to Q1 of 2007.
Service Pack 3 for Windows XP was long-believed to be planned for mid- to late-2007 release. It was largely going to be a collection of cumulative fixes and patches, IE 7, and .Net 3.0, although its contents were still up in the air.
was not available for comment at press time.
Pushing the third service pack to 2008 leaves a four-year gap since Service Pack 2 came out. That’s not a good practice or message for business customers, said Mike Cherry, analyst with Directions on Microsoft.
“I don’t understand how on one hand Microsoft says it wants predictable releases of operating systems but on the other hand doesn’t see that the predictable release of service packs would be equally valuable,” he said.
Microsoft has refined its patching system through auto update, but there are still a lot of fixes to install since SP 2 was issued, he points out. “Granted, it’s done automatically, but it would be nice if it was all rolled up into one package and tested against each other,” said Cherry.
But Michael Silver, senior analyst with Gartner, said organizations are generally not in a rush for a new service pack.
“Support on SP1 just ended and there are a lot of companies that have not been able to get to SP2 yet because of application breakage issues or because it was low priority and they just haven’t gotten around to testing their apps,” he said.
Waiting longer for SP3 won’t bother most organizations, Silver maintained. IE7 just shipped and they’ll be more concerned with deploying that and the forthcoming .NET Framework 3.0.
There could be another reason, according to Rob Enderle, principle analyst with The Enderle Group: Microsoft doesn’t want to promote XP.
“They want to put all the focus on Vista and not have an XP service pack come out in a Vista launch year,” he said. “If they do a major refresh during the launch of a new OS, then people will get confused. They want the message to be clear, to move the customer to Vista and not patch XP.”
Microsoft seemed to confirm Enderle’s suspicion regarding priorities.
“Right now our priority is Windows Vista. We’ll have more information to share about the next service pack for XP after Windows Vista ships,” said the company spokesperson. He did confirm that a third service pack is planned for the first half of 2008.
Enderle said there hasn’t been a huge rise in demand for a third service pack, and he notes that by the time SP 3 ships in 2008, new machines will be coming with Vista installed.