Microsoft has finally released Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which has been constantly delayed since its original June target date. And, like every other major patch the company has released this year, SP1 adds its own bugs--in this case, a one that breaks personal firewall products such as BlackIce and ZoneAlarm. Win2K SP1 is available in two versions: a relatively svelte 13.8MB to 29.6MB "express" download and a hefty 83MB network installation, which has additional features for multiple-computer installations and slipstream network installs. Although SP1 doesn't provide this information at installation, Microsoft tells me that the final SP1 version is build 138.

Microsoft says that SP1 is a "comprehensive package of fixes that can be applied to Win2K Professional, Win2K Server, and Win2K Advanced Server (Win2K AS). SP1 has been rigorously tested in house by Microsoft testing teams and through an extensive beta process." But I've already received numerous reports from users about problems SP1 causes with their personal firewall products. If you use one of these programs, you'll need to disable it to get online, or, in the case of ZoneAlarm, reduce your Internet zone security setting to "Medium" (in Internet Properties). This isn't a particularly elegant solution, I admit. I'll have more information about the firewall issue, along with news of possible fixes, when it becomes available. As of this writing, all of the available versions are US English; I'll post supply information about international versions as soon as possible.

To find out more about SP1, head over to the SuperSite for Windows and read my extensive review. Also, Microsoft has posted a Knowledge Base article about the service pack, which explains how to obtain the release and includes a list of fixed bugs.

SP1 is also available on CD-ROM for about $15. To order the CD-ROM or download SP1, visit the Microsoft Web site