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Premier users get Windows 2000 fixes

Everyone else has to wait until Thursday for an update that packs security tweaks and, in accordance with Microsoft's antitrust settlement, a new middleware control.

Microsoft released the third major collection of Windows 2000 bug fixes, or service pack, to premier customers on Tuesday. But everyone else will have to wait until Thursday.

Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 is the first update released since Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates issued a companywide directive about putting security ahead of adding new features to products. Soon after, Microsoft issued a rollup package of cumulative security fixes.

Service Pack 3 includes all previously released security fixes, "plus security fixes learned from the security push," said Jim Cullinan, Windows lead product manager.

The update also features adds a new middleware control, in accordance with an antitrust settlement Microsoft cut with the Justice Department and nine of 18 states. Final status of the November agreement is pending, awaiting final approval or rejection by a federal judge in Washington.

The middleware control is slightly different than the one coming in Windows XP Service Pack 1, Cullinan said. PC makers or Windows 2000 users can use the control to set their default middleware programs that compete with Microsoft middleware products Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player and the company's version of the Java Virtual Machine. The control determines which products are the default ones.

The Windows XP service pack control also affects Windows Messenger, which is not part of Windows 2000. The XP update also offers four configuration controls, versus the one in Service Pack 3.

As previously reported, Microsoft had nearly completed Windows 2000 Service Pack, but held it back for some last-minute tweaks. Windows XP Service Pack 1 also is near completion, with Microsoft expected to issue the important update in August, according to sources familiar with the product's development.

The Windows 2000 update will be no small download, and could present a hardship to users working with dial-up connections. The basic version weighs in at 125MB, according to Microsoft. But a larger version will be available for network installations. The latest testing version of the XP service pack is about 125MB.

Microsoft issued Windows 2000 Service Pack 2, itself a hefty 101MB download, in May 2001. The Redmond, Wash.-based company released Service Pack 1 in July 2000.

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