Microsoft last month quietly slipped Windows Small Business Server 2003 Service Pack 1 into beta testing, and is on track to release the security-enhanced version by the middle of the year, the company said.
The first significant update to the server suite since October 2003, SBS 2003 SP1 will comprise Windows Server 2003 SP1 and updates to Exchange, SharePoint and, for premium customers, Internet Security and Accelerator (ISA) 2004 and SQL Server 2000 SP4. ISA 2004 is a robust, cost-effective edge firewall solution for small businesses, partners say.
Partners say SP1's greatest benefit will be delivering a single update that can be applied once. "The biggest advantage is aggregation of patches," said Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, Phoenix, who has worked with the SBS SP1 beta code.
Prior to the service pack, it took about an hour of install time to patch individual SBS servers, Cocanower said. "Once the SP1 comes out, that decreases quite a bit," he said.
Partners also say they expect the SBS SP1 rollout to be far easier than that of Windows XP SP2. "It will be somewhat different from that with Windows XP SP2," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, Manalapan, N.J. "Servers are a controlled environment and we know what's running, and what to watch out for," he said.