Microsoft has indefinitely delayed the third service pack for Windows 2000--Service Pack 3 (SP3)--according to internal documents I saw last weekend. Microsoft originally scheduled SP3 for release July 17, but the company recently discovered several major bugs in the Microsoft Installer (MSI) 2.0 code, which the company had planned to bundle with the update. Microsoft will remove MSI 2.0 from SP3 and will instead include the older version, MSI 1.1, unless feedback from Microsoft beta testers and partners indicates they want MSI 2.0 included. Obviously, this indecision will adversely affect SP3's release schedule.

"We are still facing MSI 2.0-related issues," an email sent to the Windows development team reads. "\[But\] before we move ahead with a retraction plan, we want to make sure that we are doing the right thing for our customers ... we do not want to make deployment impossible for some of our partners, and we do not want to break our customer's applications ... We are working hard to make the right decision."

Until the MSI problems are resolved, Microsoft will indefinitely delay the SP3 release. "This will have a bad hit to \[the\] Win2K SP3 schedule," the email reads. "\[So\] we will not be able to release an escrow build today \[which would have been considered a release candidate--RC\]. We will roll out a new schedule early \[this\] week." I don't have any information about where the new schedule places the final SP3 release, but build 3.149, which Microsoft released last week, isn't the final build. I'll provide more information about the Win2K SP3 release as it becomes available.