Microsoft confirmed yesterday afternoon that the company will delay Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1) until the first half of 2005. The long-expected schedule change comes in the wake of delays to Windows XP SP2, which is now due in early August. Development of Windows 2003 SP1 can take place in earnest only after XP SP2 is completed, sources at Microsoft told me.
  
"We now anticipate that Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems will ship in the first half of 2005, whereas we previously estimated the release timing for both to be the end of 2004," a Microsoft representative told me. "Additionally, given that Windows XP 64-bit for 64-bit Extended Systems is also tied to Windows Server 2003 SP1, it will also ship the first half of 2005. As is the case with all Microsoft product schedules, the development cycle is driven by quality, with a focus on the needs of our customers rather than an arbitrary date."
  
Windows 2003 SP1, like XP SP2, will include multiple security-oriented changes, such as a Security Configuration Wizard that will use the roles-based infrastructure in Windows 2003 to automatically shut down unnecessary ports and services. According to Microsoft, the release will also include any relevant security changes from XP SP2.