On Tuesday, Service Pack 2 for Windows Server 2003 will be available thru Automatic Update. I recommend waiting to deploy it for some time. Recently, we updated a machine running ISA Server 2004 with SP2. This improved significantly the security of Microsoft's firewall since all traffic was blocked after the update. Okay, the disadvantage was that the computers behind ISA were not able anymore to access the Internet.

Thank goodness, it was only a backup system. Meanwhile there is a solution for this problem. However, this incident also significantly increased my respect for this Service Pack. Especially this new "lazy Interrupt Request Level (IRQL) handler" seems to have some bad influence on otherwise diligent servers. Hence, we won't be too hasty to deploy it to our servers. We will wait for some weeks to see what other bugs it contains.

If you deploy service packs with WSUS, you don't have to worry that it will be installed on your servers without approval. You have to explicitly accept the SP2 Eula. You can make sure that the service pack is not accidently installed by using the SP2 blocker tool to "temporarily block delivery of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2".

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If you want to deploy it anyway, check out the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 application compatibility list first. I am not sure, though, how much you can trust this list. ISA 2004 was tested, too! It seems they didn't test it on multiprocessors systems. Maybe they thought that this "lazy handler" wouldn't affect the more vigorous servers, anyway.

  1. Lukas Beeler 16 years ago

    We’ve been running on SP2 since quite some time, but with two internal servers (an x346 and x3650) we aren’t exactly a big environment.

    The issues you’ve described were covered about a month ago on the SBS Blog.

    By now, we have several customers running their SBS on SP2, and several other customers already transitioned without any issues.

    Especially on our internal systems, i’m an advocate of the patch early tactic – it serves as an excellent test environment before deploying at customers sites.

  2. nick 16 years ago

    SP2 is sneaky. We had an issue where it blocked the creation of localhost>localhost TCP connections with some funky new ‘feature’ called Recieve Side Scaling (RSS). This wiped out one of our major webapps which creates local TCP connections for it’s various components to talk to each other.

    Why microsoft chooses to “rebadge” well known TLA’s is beyond me. Why this is/was turned on by default and not documented properly in the technet article listing the most recent changes implemented by SP2 is beyond me too. I’ve to just accept such things as “Microsoftisms”


    How to turn the sucker off;

  3. Michael Pietroforte 15 years ago

    Lukas, I am also an advocate of patching early. We deploy any security-related patches as soon as they become available. However, one should always be careful with service packs since they usually change a lot. There is a relatively high probability that you will run into problems after installing a newly released SP. So if your system works fine and you have already all security-related patches installed you should better wait until the “friends of the early patch tactics

  4. Rich Morrison 15 years ago

    We just installed SP@ on a S2K3 print server and it broke many printer connections, made them go offline. Looks like its related to the RSS and TCP offloading that is on by default after SP2 installation. We’ve rolled back the SP install until we can get a better handle on how this affects our other systems.

  5. Mike Schinkel 15 years ago

    I had the same problem at Rich Morrison; it made my HP LaserJet 4100 MFP)go offline (I have but one printer on a small network.) Glad I found this post so I could just rollback the service pack instead of wasting hours on end trying to figure it out.

    BTW, I was able to get the printer to work by setting it up on an Internet Port, but it doesn’t give the full functionality so I’m going to rollback. Nonetheless, the Internet Port might be better than nothing for someone else if they can’t rollback for some reason. HTH.

  6. Mihir 15 years ago

    hello All,

    I have my Server developed for sending reports. When I use Windows SP1, it seems it is faster (approx 16 secs for one Report) and when I run it on Windows 2k3 SP2 it is much slower. I put the logs in my code to find out what the difference it creates and found that in SP2 code is getting executed at much slower speed. Do you guys knows about this cause??


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