Service Pack

Dennis Faas's picture

A Service Pack (more commonly known as "SP") is a software program that corrects known bugs, problems, or adds new features (and/or both). Companies that produce large applications such as Microsoft and their Windows NT-based operating systems typically release a service pack when the number of individual patches to the application becomes too large.

Service Packs are easier to install than groups of patches, especially with multiple computers that need to be updated over a network.

  • Windows NT 4.0 currently has 6 Service Packs. 
  • Windows 2000 currently has 4 Service Packs. 
  • Windows XP currently has 2 Service Packs.

They are available for download on the official website.

Microsoft's Windows Update

Windows Update is a web-based software update service for Microsoft Windows operating systems.

It offers a one-stop location for downloading critical system component updates, service packs, security fixes/patches and free upgrades to selected Windows components. Additionally, it automatically detects your hardware and provides driver updates when available, and can offer beta versions of some Microsoft programs.

Most new fixes and updates go "live" on the Windows Update website very soon after they are released. Alternatively, fixes and updates can always be downloaded manually from the Microsoft website.

The Windows Update website requires Internet Explorer, as it needs to access the system files and functions. Also, it is coded using the Microsoft scripting languages VBScript and JScript. It is compatible with Netscape 8.0 Beta, which uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine for that particular website.

In late 2004, Microsoft released Windows Update 5 for Windows XP, which includes Service Pack 2 and several major changes to the update application. Users without broadband access can order a CD of XP Service Pack 2 from the Microsoft website; there is no charge even for shipping, and the packaging encourages sharing the CD with other users of Windows XP. After installing SP2, one should then go to the Microsoft website to check for newer updates - several have been released since SP2.

Windows Update: History

Windows Update site was first introduced with launch of Windows 98. Since then the site has gone though several revisions. In 2005, Microsoft plans to introduce a "Windows Update Service" that delivers updates for supported OSs, plus Office, Exchange and SQL Server.

This article is adapted from

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