Tip

Windows 2000's SP4 can be a mine field

Service Pack 4 for Windows 2000 Server, Professional and Advanced Server was released by Microsoft on June 26. In my experience, service packs should be aged at least three months, if not six, before you decide to widely deploy them. I've found that most service packs cause problems, often problems that cannot be removed once the service pack is applied. I'd rather live in the world of pre-service pack hotfix juggling than in the world of post-service pack system re-install and re-configuration.

Service Pack 4, while not a flop like Windows NT's SP6, does present numerous problems that you need to be aware of.

First, most applications and programs written to the 1.0 Version of the .NET framework will fail under SP4. Upgrading the programs to 1.1 will resolve the problem or there is a hotfix from Microsoft. (

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Knowledge Base article: 823485).

Norton Internet Security 2001 and Norton Personal Firewall 2001 cause numerous strange problems under SP4 with Internet Explorer and NetMeeting. The best solution is to upgrade these products to their 2002 or 2003 equivalents. (Knowledge Base article: 823087).

Exchange Server 2000's Key Management Service fails to load under SP4. Microsoft offers a workaround which involves a defragmentation of the Exchange database. (Knowledge Base article: 818952).

A handful of post-SP4 hotfixes that were released prior to the formal release of SP4 can cause problems during the installation of SP4. During the SP4 install, error messages will appear. Microsoft claims you can complete the install of SP4 then apply updates for the affected hotfixes afterward. The hotfixes that may trigger problems are: 811525; 812419; 813130; 814120; 815767; 816542; 816560; 816627; 816813; 816989; 817354; 817416; 817700; 818173; 818396; 818528; 818704; 818825; 818826; 819019; 819636; 819653; 819876; 820325; 820326; 820550; 820765; 820841; 821102; 821290; 821471; 822563. For details, see the Knowledge Base article: 822384.

These and other known problems are listed in the Release Notes for Windows 2000 Server Pack 4 (Knowledge Base article: 813432).

About the author
James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for ITinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.


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This was first published in July 2003

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