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Windows Server 2003 SP2 Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ originally published: November 16, 2006

Q. Why should I upgrade to Service Pack 2?
In addition to packaging publically released security updates and customer-requested updates into one convenient package, SP2 provides several enhancements designed to heighten security, reliability, and performance in Windows Server 2003. For more information, see the Top Ten Reasons to Deploy Windows Server 2003 SP2.

Q. How will I be able to apply Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 to my computer?
There are two ways. 1) An update will be available for free download for existing installations of Windows Server 2003. 2) The SP2 updates will be incorporated, or slipstreamed, into Windows Server 2003 moving forward. This will allow the upgrading of Windows NT 4.0 Server or Windows 2000 Server SP4.

Q. What operating systems does this service pack apply to?
SP2 update applies to:

  • Windows Server 2003 All Editions (32-bit x86)

  • Windows Server 2003 Itanium-based Editions

  • Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions

  • Windows Server 2003 R2 Editions

  • Windows Server 2003 Storage Server R2 Edition

  • Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition

  • Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Servers R2 Edition

  • Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

Q. Is SP2 a mandatory update through Windows Update?
No, SP2 is an optional update from Windows Update site. After 3 months on Windows Update site, SP2 will also be offered via Automatic Updates (AU). Even on AU, SP2 will not install automatically until the End User License Agreement has been accepted.
Customers who wish to test SP2 for a longer period and would like to prevent SP2 from installing from AU can download and install the SP2 Blocking Tool at the Microsoft Download Center. The tool will ensure SP2 is not offered from AU for 360 days. Organizations do not need to deploy the Blocker Toolkit in environments managed with an update management solution such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS). Organizations can use those products to fully manage deployment of updates released through Windows Update and Microsoft Update.

Q. Does SP2 provide updates to the new components that came with Windows Server 2003 R2?
Yes, SP2 applies needed updates to the R2 components of Windows Server 2003 R2.

Q. Do I need to upgrade to Windows Server 2003 R2 or Windows Server 2003 SP1 first?
No, Service Packs are cumulative, meaning SP2 contains all previously released Security Bulletin Updates and installs all individual hotfixes released since Windows Server 2003 RTM.

Q. Does SP2 change the non-R2 machines to R2 SP2 machines?
No, it will not upgrade Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2003 R2.

Q. Why does this update the Windows XP Professional x64 Edition?
Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition were introduced with the release of Windows Server 2003 SP1, all sharing a common codebase. It is this common codebase that allows SP2 to provide updates to all versions of Windows Server 2003 and the Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.

Q. Since Windows XP SP2 was already released long ago, what will Microsoft call this Service Pack for Windows XP?
It is called Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2.
In August 2004, Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released for the x86 editions of Windows XP. This was before the Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions were released in March 2005, sharing a common codebase. Windows XP Service Pack 2 patches the x86 editions of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2 patches the x64 version of Windows XP.

Q. SP1 required a lot of application testing? Should I expect the same from SP2?
No, customers can expect a much simpler upgrade process with SP2. Windows Server 2003 SP1 addressed known vulnerabilities to Windows Server 2003 by tightening the authorization needed for some services and disabling others all together. In some cases these security enhancements resulted in unexpected behavior from applications.

Q. Are new editions available?
Yes. Volume-licensed customers receive all Datacenter editions:

  • Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter Edition with SP2

  • Windows Server 2003 R2, Datacenter x64 Edition with SP2

  • Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition with SP2 for Itanium-based Systems

Korean Fair Trade Commission order:

  • Windows Server 2003 R2, Standard Edition KN with SP2

  • Windows Server 2003 R2, Enterprise Edition KN with SP2

More information about the Korean Fair Trade Commission order can be found at:

Q.Are additional localized versions available?
Yes. Nine new localized versions are available for Windows 2003 and x64: German, French, Korean, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Spanish, Italian, Russian and, Portuguese (Brazilian). Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will continue to be supported in only English and Japanese.

Q. Will Service Pack 2 help me prepare for Vista?
Yes. SP2 includes Windows Deployment Services (WDS) that prepares your servers for deploying Windows Vista. In fact, WDS will be required to support the deployment of Windows Vista and Windows Server code-name "Longhorn."

Q. Are there security improvements which allow me to segment my network and protect high-value computers?
SP2 offers firewall per-port authentication, which secures traffic between the extranet environment and internal assets that are protected via IPsec domain isolation.

Q. Are there new Wi-Fi security measures?
SP2 includes Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2), which enhances the wireless client software with support for the next generation of wireless security. WPA2 is FIPS 140-2 compliant, utilizing Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, 802.1x authentication, and will cover all versions of 802.11 devices.

Q. Are there performance improvements?
Yes. You'll see performance improvements in the following areas:

  • SQL Server 2005 under intensive workloads.

  • The Scalable Networking Pack supports new hardware that allows customers to scale Windows networking to multi-gigabit link rates and across multiple CPUs.

Q. Is management easier with this Service Pack?
Yes. You can take advantage of a new event log event to address certain situations in which the Cluster Service Account becomes excessively restricted by domain policy. Also included is the new Microsoft Management Console 3.0 (MMC) which supports richer functionality in snap-ins. Additionally, MSConfig now contains an additional tab which provide a single launching point for common support tools that will ease the discoverability of common diagnostic functionality.

Q. Will the enhancements to administrative tools affect management of the local computer?
No. The purpose of the adminstrative tools enhancements is to assist administrators who need to manage their computer from a remote location. Administrators and users who are using these tools to manage the local computer are not affected.

Q. Does SP2 include the .NET Framework 2.0?
No, it does not.