Microsoft has cancelled Service Pack 7 and any further development of service packs for the Windows NT 4.0 platform. The news will be announced to the channel first and then all Microsoft customers this week.
Service Pack 7 was originally due to be released at the end of last year, but was then delayed until Q3, 2001. Now it has been shelved for good along with any plans for future service packs.
In their place, Microsoft is to introduce the "hot fix" method of bug and security vulnerability fixes, a much more popular option with customers than the roll-out of cumbersome service packs, the company claims.
This decision was reached through discussions with customers in the development cycle of Service Pack 7, who are (according to a Microsoft survey) mostly running a combination of service pack 5 and 6 with security patches applied.
Microsoft is to urge customers who had planned a Service Pack 7 roll-out to standardise instead on Service Pack 6a (if not done so already) along with the combined Security fixes pack due Q3 of this year.
Following the release of Service Pack 6a, the number of problems reported has fallen to very low levels, which in turn has meant much fewer hot fixes posted onto the Microsoft Web site, as well the long delay for the release of Service Pack 7, the company says.
Customers have been anticipating Service Pack 7 for three reasons, according to Microsoft.
- 1. An easy mechanism for deploying the security fixes Microsoft has publicly released since SP6a. (This will be of major concern to customers, as it can be a logistical nightmare to applying these security fixes without a software distribution system such as their own SMS 2.0.)
- 2. Availability of the Windows NT 4.0 Active Directory client, originally planned to be part of SP7 - now available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/news/bulletins/adextension.asp
- 3.High Encryption for International versions of Windows NT which is now available through Internet Explorer and downloadable at: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/
Soon after Service Pack 6a arrived concerns were expressed by customers that this will be the last service pack, as Windows 2000 was imminent for release. In a response to these concerns, Microsoft posted an FAQ answering this question and many others.
The following link worth a look - especially in light of this news.
It states: "Our goal is to continue to support our Windows NT 4.0 customers with additional Service Packs. Microsoft remains committed to providing regular, timely releases of Service Packs to continue to address customer issues in Windows NT 4.0.".
The LAST Windows NT service pack was released 17 months ago.