More updates and fixes for Windows 2000

By Matt Berger, IDG News Service |  Operating Systems

The latest set of updates and security fixes for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 operating systems began trickling out on the Web late Tuesday, including updates to the software that brings the company into compliance with parts of its proposed antitrust settlement with the U.S. government.

Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 became available to some top Microsoft customers Tuesday. The package of updates and fixes will become generally available to Windows 2000 users on Thursday, Microsoft said.

Service Pack 3 includes a number of enhancements in the areas of security as well as increased compatibility with third-party applications, according to Jim Cullinan, group product manager with Microsoft's Windows division.

Some of the security updates come as a result of the company's wide security push known as the Trustworthy Computing Initiative. Under that effort, the Windows group spent more than a month sweeping its code in search of security holes. Other divisions at Microsoft have or are in the process of under going similar sweeps. The service pack includes all of the previous security fixes that have been posted individually by Microsoft.

Additionally, Microsoft is fulfilling some stipulations it agreed to under its proposed antitrust settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the nine states that have agreed to settle with Microsoft. In Service Pack 3, the company has added to its desktop operating system a controller that allows users to change the "middleware" applications that show up by default when the operating system is launched. Those applications include the Web browser, e-mail and calendaring software and media player.

The company hasn't released a service pack for Windows 2000 since May 2001. It did, however, release a cumulative pack of bug fixes in January, which it called a Security Rollup Package. That release included roughly 500 bug fixes for the Windows 2000 desktop and server operating systems.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to release the first service pack for its Windows XP operating system in the next two months, the company has said. That update will also include security bugs fixes that were developed as a result of its code sweep, as well as controls for swapping out Microsoft middleware applications for those from third-party vendors.

The Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 will be generally available Thursday on a CD or as download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp3/default.asp.

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