The third set of updates for the Windows 2000 desktop and server operating systems are now generally available.
Microsoft said that in many ways, Service Pack 3 (SP3) is a traditional collection of updates, featuring all of the security fixes released since the last service pack as well as enhancements to improve the operating system's reliability and compatibility.
But the 125MB SP3 also contains some atypical elements, including a pop-up screen that lets users select the default settings for the "middleware" programs, such as the Web browser and media player, they want to use. Microsoft implemented that change in response to the consent decree it signed with the US Department of Justice and nine settling states.
Charmaine Gravning, a Windows product manager at Microsoft, said users have the option to select Microsoft middleware, non-Microsoft middleware or a combination of the two.
Another twist to SP3 is the security fixes and improvements that are being incorporated as a result of an extensive code review Microsoft did as part of its Trustworthy Computing initiative. A service pack typically includes all of the security fixes released since the prior one, but in this case, Microsoft shut down Windows production for 10 weeks while engineers reviewed the code to address potential security issues.
Another feature added via SP3 is Application Compatibility Toolkit 2.5, a collection of tools and documents that can help IT professionals and application developers make their custom-built applications run on Windows 2000. Microsoft's latest Windows XP desktop operating system already supports that feature.
Another Windows XP feature being added via the Windows 2000 SP3 is automatic update. Users can choose to automatically download Windows updates onto their PC and store them in the background until they're ready to install them, Gravning said.
Service Pack 3 was made available to Microsoft's Premier customers on Tuesday and will become generally available today.
SP3 marks the largest service pack for Windows 2000 to date. The first service pack came in at 87MB, and the second was 101MB, according to Gravning.
Users who don't have the bandwidth to download the updates can request a CD with a shipping charge of $US14.95, she said.