The Death Of The Windows Service Pack … Or Is It?

Don’t bother waiting for SP1 before deploying Windows Server 2012.  It’s not coming (to be clear: I haven’t been officially told that or anything else).  It’s looks like Microsoft is switching release cycles from every 3 years to annually.  That makes service packs an impossibility without Microsoft hiring an a lot more developers, testers, and PMs.

What was a service pack?  It was a collection of security and bug fixes.  Security fixes came from the Windows catalog via Windows Update, WSUS, etc.  Bug fixes were normally downloaded manually from the Support site.  A service pack would normally group all these together, maybe add some minor features to avail of recent device enhancements, and be tested by Microsoft as a unit.  This would be a big point release, seen by some as a mark of maturity.

Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 actually included some significant new features for virtualization: Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V and RemoteFX for Remote Desktop Services.

Since the release of Windows Server 2012 (and Windows 8) we’ve seen update rollups being released pretty regularly via the Windows Catalog (therefore via Windows Update).  These consist of bug fixes, not security fixes.  The security fixes are still coming down as usual.

To be honest, the earlier update rollups irked a few of us because they listed the KB numbers of the bugs they fixed, but those KB articles weren’t publicly available so we didn’t know what bug fixes we were getting.  But it seems like Microsoft listened to our feedback with the release of the April 2013 Update Rollup and listed/linked/summarised the contained bug fixes.

I’ve lost track of how many of these URs have been deployed since RTM.  It could be 3, maybe 4, possibly 5.  They come via Windows Update so I’m pushing them out with the security updates via WSUS in the lab.

So, if you are waiting for “Service Pack 1” for Windows Server 2012, I’m happy to tell you that we’re at least at Windows Server 2012 “SP3” and maybe even at Windows Server 2012 “SP5”.  Stop delaying and join the rest of us in this decade which we’re already 3 years into.

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