Windows XP Service pack in view

The first major pack of fixes and updates for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system is set to be released during the second half of the year, a Microsoft product manager said Thursday.

The release, known as a service pack, is often considered the turning point for when major enterprise customers would begin adopting the new operating system widely. It will include all of the security patches and software updates for tuning the operating system, said Charmaine Gravning, product manager for Microsoft's Windows division.

Service Pack 1 for Windows XP will also contain a unique set of updates compared to service packs for previous versions of Windows. It will include any changes or alterations to the operating system imposed upon Microsoft by terms of its proposed antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and nine states.

Terms of the proposed settlement, which is known in legal speak as a consent decree, require Microsoft to disclose certain APIs (application program interfaces) for the operating system within a year of the deal being approved or in the first Windows XP service pack; whichever comes first. A judge could decide whether to approve that settlement as early as next week.

Microsoft typically releases the first service pack to a product about six months after the product is launched, Michael Silver, a research director at Gartner, said recently. With Windows XP released in October, users could have expected the first service pack to come out in April.

However, the additional updates that would bring the company into compliance with terms of the consent decree have delayed the service pack release by at least a few months, Gravning said.

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