Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 (and Exchange 2003)

The long awaited first service pack to Windows 2003 was finally released on March 30th. Microsoft has published a lot of information about this service pack and how you should go about depolying it. While my primary work location is normally conservative about patches and service packs, we started testing it on the day it was released.

We were mostly concerned with possible problems with our Dell hardware (mostly Dell 2650s and 6650s) with Dell Systems Management v4.2 built with the DOSA CD v8.1 and later. While the release notes recommend getting the latest version of the Dell Systems Management, we have not had any problems with it yet.

We have since deployed Service Pack 1 on all of the domain controllers on 3 of our networks, plus our Exchange 2003 servers that do not use NetApps for storage (either via SAN or iSCSI attachment). We are still have not tested usage with the NetApps.

Exchange 2003 Service Pack 1 seems to behave just fine with Windows 2003 SP1. If you are installing Exchange 2003 from scratch, you will receive a note telling you that the software are installing is incompatible with the version of Windows you are running. I have had not problems installing it, but based on what I have read in the newsgroups and heard from other Exchange folks, I am immediately applying Exchange 2003 Service Pack 1.

The only thing we have found that was broken by W2K3 SP1 was the Windows Time service; it would not start on the domain controllers. This was due to some more restrictive security templates we use. The NETWORK SERIVCE account did not have permissions to read the service. This was fixed by modifying the GPO that affects the domain controllers. Thank goodness for Google Groups!

I am recommending other customers begin reading the Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 release notes and documentation, begin testing on their hardware and applications, and start planning for deployment. It sure beats all those hotfixes to fix many of the annoying issues with Windows 2003! Just don't rush in to anything until you are prepared.


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