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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Wed, Aug 2, 2000 (Vol. 5, #33 - Issue #207)
W2K SERVICE PACK 1 UPDATE
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • W2K SERVICE PACK 1 UPDATE
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  EDITORS CORNER

W2K SERVICE PACK 1 UPDATE

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's out there for real and there is a lot of feedback already. I decided to get you the maximum amount of data, as complete as possible, but it's still early days. The upshot is: PRETTY SOLID, but your configuration needs to be in good shape. This service pack is a bit of a different animal compared to the others. More on that below in the 'Backgrounder on SP1'.

First of all, some links to resources. Here is the main MS-page:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/recommended/sp1/default.asp
You can order the SP on CD for something like 15 bucks.

Here is MS's Knowledge Base article, with lists of bugs fixed.
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q260/9/10.asp

This is the link with the Release Notes for SP1:
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q265/3/81.asp

Want to know how to "slipstream" W2K? Check here. Recommended.
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q263/1/25.ASP

Wininformant's site has a review on SP1 over here, pretty good:
http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/win2k_sp1.asp

ZDNet has a good article about SP1 now boosting sales of W2K
http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2609815,00.html

The first thing that everyone talked about is that SP1 seems to break some personal firewalls like Zonealarm and Black Ice Defender. Well, I look at that a bit differently (I run BID myself). This happened before with earlier SP's and BID came out with an update. MS knew that SP1 would force these tools to come out with a new version before they released SP1. My take? Third party products need to comply with the new standards for W2K reliability, not the other way around. Also, check the drivers you are using for compatibility, one of our Techs was using and older version of Intel's NIC Express and this caused the SP1 install to fail.

It is a good idea to turn off any AntiVirus tools you are running, as some like Norton AV give a False Positive when you install SP1. Having Zonealarm running while you install the SP breaks your network connection after reboot, so turn off tools like ZoneAlarm and Black Ice Defender that make use of undocumented features. Would have been nice of course if MS would have warned users up front that this would happen. There is a workaround in the release notes however:
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q269/6/76.ASP

If you find you are completely stuck after the SP1 install, reboot in 'safe mode' and uninstall it. That should fix the problem. I suggest you read the release notes before you go wall-to-wall with SP1. MS spokesman Croft said ."In terms of formal labeling, this falls into the category we call 'recommended,' so it's not essential. Our corporate customers can make a decision on when to deploy Service Pack 1 or wait for Service Pack 2." SP1 includes all Security Fixes that have been released since last February. SP1 does not include any new features for W2K, it's a pure bugfix release. No word on SP2 yet but I expect it before the end of the year for sure.

BACKGROUNDER ON SP1

SP1 is the first result of Microsoft's "Fusion" project, launched 18 months ago to improve Windows reliability. This project aims to change the Windows architecture, the development and release process, software update tools, and even the development practices of Microsoft's ISV partners. All this together should make it unlikely that a service pack or any other software installation will break a running system.

The stakes have never been higher for Microsoft. A great majority of its current Windows NT 4.0 customers have taken a "wait and see" attitude toward Windows 2000. Over 80% of them have not even touched it yet. Early results with SP1 show that it is pretty solid and this will speed up the adoption process.

W2K SP1 is the first update to be released via the new process and with the new support tools. The changes could make a big difference in the service pack installation experience.

The following changes were made:

  • Modified the software installation architecture to enhance system stability
  • Adopted new processes for development, testing, and release of both operating system and application-level software
  • Improved the tools used to manage automatic installation of both operating system (OS) updates and applications
  • Also, Microsoft executives have sent a clear message to the development teams that reliability must be on an equal footing with time to market.

Independent Software Vendors must use the Windows Installer, understand how Windows File Protection (WFP) works so that new applications will load without failing, and must deploy side-by-side components when standard OS components won't provide the required functionality.

To make the most of these architectural changes, Microsoft rehashed the W2K development team and instituted changes in the code release process. They created a new Sustained Engineering Group. Their goal: Release thoroughly tested and well-documented service packs and hotfixes devoid of any new features, on a predictable schedule.

Microsoft is now saying that it will issue point releases of W2K, clearly defined new versions of the software that include new features as well as a rollup of all prior bug fixes, hotfixes, service packs, and feature packs into a single package. The coming point-release could well be called Windows 2001.

New Service Pack Installation Tool

Installing service packs is one of the less welcome tasks among admins. A new version of the SP installation tool, update.exe, works in conjunction with Windows File Protection (WFP) to simplify SP installation and management. The old requirement to repeatedly reinstall service packs whenever new OS services are installed will disappear. Update.exe also allows system administrators to install a new OS and SP from a network share in a single operation-a process called "Integrated Installation" (code-named Slipstreaming).

The new update.exe installation tool resolves several difficulties evident in the Windows NT 4.0 SP installation process. With NT, service pack management required "layering" a service pack directly on top of a newly installed operating system to get the right combo of components. If additional OS services such as RAS were installed, it was necessary to reinstall the service pack to ensure that installation of the new application didn't inadvertently "downrev" any OS components and create DLL Hell. Update.exe works with WFP to keep system files up to date, eliminating the requirement to repeatedly reapply service packs and hotfixes.

The new update.exe also maintains a log of all changes made during SP installation, including file, registry, and security settings. This answers one of the main complaints about the old process: what changed during the installation? This log-combined with a special directory that SP1 creates to store backup copies of the original (pre-SP1) system files-provides the infrastructure for an uninstall feature that returns the system to its previous (pre-SP1) state.

Integrated installation. Update.exe also allows system administrators to install both the OS and a SP in a single step. The Integrated Installation process requires installation of both the OS distribution and the SP code on a network share. Update.exe can then install the OS and the SP in unison. Note that this process is intended for OEMs and corporate IT customers who want to reduce the cost of software installation on large numbers of desktops. There are currently no plans to use the Integrated Installation process to build a retail (shrink-wrapped) version of the OS (i.e., Windows 2000 SP1). Customers purchasing shrink-wrapped product will still need to install the OS and the SP separately.

(with special thanks to www.directionsonmicrosoft.com for the above)

That's all folks!

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])