After I revealed last Wednesday that Microsoft had canceled Windows 2000 Service Pack 5 (SP5) and would instead issue a final Update Rollup for Win2K in 2005, Microsoft posted a public confirmation of the report on its Web site. On the Windows 2000 Update Rollup Announcement page (see the first URL below), Microsoft confirms that the Win2K Update Rollup will replace SP5 as the final Win2K combined security-patch update.
  
"To make it as easy as possible for customers to maintain the security and stability of their Windows 2000 systems, Microsoft will produce an Update Rollup for Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4), with a planned release in mid-2005," the site says. "The Update Rollup will contain all security-related updates produced for Windows 2000 between the time SP4 was released and the time when Microsoft finalizes the contents of the Update Rollup. The Update Rollup will also contain a small number of important nonsecurity updates."
  
In its public announcement, Microsoft notes that the Update Rollup will require less testing than a full service pack because it includes fewer updates than a service pack contains, and the company has already released most of the Update Rollup contents (which Win2K-using companies have presumably tested). "Because Microsoft believes the Update Rollup will meet the needs of customers better than a new service pack, there will be no Service Pack 5 (SP5) for Windows 2000," the company notes, confirming my earlier report. "Therefore, SP4 becomes the final service pack for Windows 2000."
  
In an Update Rollup FAQ (see the second URL below), Microsoft also notes that the company will issue the release as a critical update to Windows Update when it's ready sometime in 2005. Installation of the Update Rollup won't change a Win2K system's service-pack level; instead, systems running SP4 and the Update Rollup will be considered up-to-date and will reach end-of-life (EOL) status no sooner than January 1, 2010, Microsoft says. This information is almost identical to the internal documentation I viewed last week, incidentally.

Windows 2000 Update Rollup Announcement

Frequently Asked Questions About the Windows 2000 Update Rollup Announcement