Microsoft posted the collection of bug fixes to its developer Web site, according to the WinInfo and BetaNews sites. The service pack is the first update to Windows 2000, Microsoft's new corporate operating system.
Microsoft officials could not be reached for comment.
In February, Microsoft released Windows 2000 Professional, aimed at PCs and workstations; Windows 2000 Server, for file-and-print servers; and Windows 2000 Advanced Server, which supports clustering to make several systems act as a single, more powerful computer. Windows 2000 Data Center, the highest-end version of the operating system, is expected to be released early this summer.
Windows 2000, which is designed to power large corporate computing systems as well as e-commerce Web sites, was the most massive software development project in the company's history, according to Microsoft, and is seen as the linchpin of its entire future strategy.
The operating system is expected to be a major part of the company's Next Generation Windows Services, Microsoft's initiative to address Web-based computing services and applications, when it is unveiled next month.
Because it requires a fairly hefty effort and price tag to upgrade to the new operating system, many corporations and Web sites were not expected to do so right away. Although Windows 2000 is touted as the most reliable and stable of all Windows operating systems, notoriously conservative corporate computer administrators were more likely to wait until the first service pack was released, to be on the safe side, analysts predicted. Initial service packs are considered important events for major Microsoft products, given the company's history of shipping products with undocumented glitches.
Further, many corporations were still grappling with Year 2000 spending freezes in the months preceding the launch of the OS and did not have the financial or personnel resources to test the software.
By the end of this year, only 15 to 20 percent of Microsoft users now using Windows 95 or 98, or Windows NT, will upgrade or purchase Windows 2000 Professional replacement systems, according to market research firm Gartner Group. But that number is expected to reach as much as 45 percent by the end of 2001.
The Windows 2000 Service Pack, which is a 190MB file, includes a wide array of bug fixes and feature enhancements, according to WinInfo. The release mainly targets improving the reliability of the operating system by reducing data loss and corruption issues, fixing bugs associated with the startup of the computer, improving reliability with third-party applications and hardware and adding new security features.
The service pack also includes, according to the Web sites, new file protection support, new software driver support and an automatic service update that determines which Service Pack files need to be installed.