Microsoft will deliver the first Windows XP service pack in late 2002, several months later than originally planned, a Microsoft representative told me last night. But Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) will consist of more than just bug fixes. The company representative said that the service pack will contain new Mira and Freestyle technology, several changes required by its proposed settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and any critical updates Microsoft has issued since XP shipped last fall.

"Microsoft is working toward delivering \[XP SP1\] in the second half of this year," the representative said. "SP1 will roll up critical updates and contain enabling technologies for Mira and new types of PCs \[such as\] the Tablet PC and the Freestyle-enabled PC. It will also include the changes required by the consent decree with the DOJ and the nine states. More information about SP1 will be available soon."

In the meantime, Microsoft has shipped several XP updates, which are available through Windows Update, an integral component of the new OS. The company representative said that Microsoft will continue to ship such updates throughout the year. Later this year, the company will also roll out other XP-related technologies, such as Microsoft .NET My Services.

Interestingly, a late 2002 release of XP SP1 would satisfy Microsoft's goal of releasing yearly Windows client upgrades and might explain why SP1 will include new features, something Windows service packs usually don't do. In my article "The Road to Windows 'Longhorn'" I predicted that Microsoft would issue an XP refresh--which I referred to as Windows XP Second Edition--in late 2002, because the follow-up to XP, dubbed Longhorn, had been delayed until at least late 2003. (Longhorn won't begin testing until after Microsoft completes XP SP1, according to Windows Program Manager Doug Anderson, who informed XP testers of the Longhorn plans last October.)