Testers for the NT 4.0 service pack for the workstation and server-based software were notified that a release "candidate" has been posted on a nonpublic Microsoft Web site, according to members of the company's beta program and documentation found on the company's site.
Timing for final delivery of the fourth service pack is unclear, but Microsoft has readied a Web site where documentation can be found with function details concerning the release. But that same site is not yet populated with actual software code due to a deadline of yesterday for changes.
Microsoft executives have said the service pack would likely be released by the end of this month.
With the delivery of a second test version of NT in August, Microsoft said it would dedicate a team to further service packs, a move necessitated by customer concerns that issues in the current version of NT were becoming secondary to delivery of the 5.0 upgrade, a major shift in the company's operating system strategy that is currently behind schedule. NT 5.0 is now anticipated in the second half of next year.
In some respects, Microsoft's service pack approach is akin to a "point release" to an operating system, in which incremental features and cumulative fixes are included in an updated version.
Among the additions found in the fourth service pack: support for the new euro currency symbol, various Year 2000 patches, and fixes for various issues involving the company's Option Pack for NT 4.0.
A new Security Configuration Manager tool for the workstation and server-based software is also included, which allows an information technology manager to define and roll out software configuration policies. The Web-Based Enterprise Management specification is also bundled in, along with Windows NT Server NetShow Services and the Windows Media Player, among other additions.
It also includes a patch for the "snork" security hole found in NT late last month.