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Microsoft Corp. has scrapped plans for Windows 2000 Service Pack 5.

Instead, the software giant announced that a Windows 2000 Update Rollup will be released in mid-2005 to replace SP5 as the final security patch for the operating system.

According to a message posted on Microsoft’s Windows 2000 site, “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, non-security updates.”

Windows 2000 remains the most dominant operating system used in the enterprise, but analysts expect corporate migration to Windows XP to speed up once Microsoft’s mainstream support for Windows 2000 expires in June.

Microsoft wrote in the message that the Update Rollup will require less pre-deployment testing for two reasons: the number of updates included in the Update Rollup is significantly lower than the number typically included in a service pack, and Microsoft already will have released most of the contents of the Update Rollup as individual updates and hot fixes.

“Individual hot fixes made since SP4, but not included in the Update Rollup, will remain available via individual downloads,” the site reads. “Customers who have not yet deployed Windows SP4 must deploy that SP4 as soon as possible because SP4 will be a prerequisite for deploying the Update Rollup.”

The Update Rollup is expected to be released as a “critical update” via the Windows Update mechanism.

Microsoft typically uses update rollups to deliver a select group of fixes between service packs or late in a product’s life cycle.

There were three previous instances wherein Microsoft released update rollups for Windows products, including Windows 2000 Security Rollup Package 1 (SRP1) in January 2000 to cover all post-SP2 security patches.

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