Why is Windows Server 2008 at SP1 already?

Many of us were baffled by what we saw when we first installed the “RTM” bits of Windows Server 2008 and looked at the winver results:

Winver Result

“Huh?  Service Pack 1?”

Yeah.  At first glance you may think it strange that a first version of a product would already be at SP1 level.  So I thought I would throw out a couple of reasons why Windows Server 2008 is at SP1 already.  NOTE: Only ONE of the following reasons is correct:

A.  We call it Service Pack 1 because we want to have something to say to the customer who is always “waiting for SP1”.  “Here you go!”

B.  We call it Service Pack 1 because it sounds like it’s of a higher quality.

C.  We call it Service Pack 1 because it IS of a higher quality.

The correct answer is CWindows Server 2008 is indeed of a higher quality, just like Windows Vista SP1 is of a higher quality than Windows Vista pre-SP1.  It is no mistake that Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista SP1 were released to manufacturing on the very same day.  They have much of the same code base.  Most all of the security, performance and reliability benefits you get from the new OS are available in both the Desktop and Server, because they share a common base of code.  We keep a common deployment model, update model, and servicing model.  Keeping them in sync is a HUGE benefit – both selfishly as a software vendor, but more importantly as the end-user IT Pro managing the support and update process for your company. 

“Aw c’mon.. Does Microsoft think that putting SP1 in the name is going to speed up sales of Windows Server 2008?”

No.  I doubt that you’ll see “SP1” on any sales material or other marketing.  It’s not a sales ploy.  It’s simply an indication that the code is at the same level.  I know for a fact that the SP1 designation has nothing to do with sales.  You’re smarter than that.

“So does having a common code base mean that every time an update comes out for Vista, there will also be an update for Server 2008?  I can’t afford to patch my servers every month!”

Of course there may indeed be times when an update will apply to both, because of this same-code reality.  But think back to the updates that have come out during the past year that involved Windows Vista.  How many of them updated the OS Kernel?  The things that typically get updated have to do with applications or features installed on top of the base operating system and subsystems.  And even though you can install it if you want, you aren’t typically going to have the full “desktop experience” installed on Windows Server 2008.  Very little is installed on Windows Server 2008 by default. (Examples: You have to install and enable the capability to play sound, to play media files, or to even have wireless network device support.)  So keeping your servers as lean as possible – the same things you’re already doing for the sake of higher performance and for keeping any potential “attack surface area” at a minimum – will mean that your servers should rarely need updates applied to them.

What do you think?  Any and all opinions, no matter how unflattering, are welcomed and encouraged. 

4 thoughts on “Why is Windows Server 2008 at SP1 already?

  1. While you might think I’m wrong, it does look a bit suss.
    Focusing on the positive, a shared code base is always good, and multicasting rocks 🙂
    – Dale


  2. I see the humor in Microsoft making Server 2008 at release already marked SP1. At the same time I see the reasoning why. But as they say, "perception is reality." What’s problematic about this nomenclature is its effect on already incredulous administrators.


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