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Windows NT service pack due tomorrow

Delivering incremental releases includes advance testing as well as a more predictable schedule.

What was once a source of concern has turned into a science at Microsoft.

The software giant will tomorrow release a fifth service pack for the company's Windows NT 4.0 Server and Workstation operating system, the company said, adding a series of cumulative software fixes to the existing code base as well as year 2000 updates.

Microsoft previously has introduced bugs via service packs and induced criticism for waiting a long time in between updates, prompting the company to take a more rigid approach to delivery of incremental releases. Thus the process now includes a testing system in advance of release, as well as a more predictable release schedule for service packs.

The latest update includes year 2000 software enhancements that did not make it into the previous update. The company said it will not require users to install Service Pack 5 to remain complaint with the year 2000 bug. Microsoft said users should "examine" the specific fixes before determining whether they need to upgrade their Windows NT 4.0 systems.

The fifth service pack has been in testing since March. It is also intended for Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition.

The service pack will be available for download on the company's Web site tomorrow or can be ordered. More information can be found at Microsoft's Web site.