Microsoft has brought out the big guns today with key announcements on both its corporate and consumer platforms.
First up is Windows Server 2003, the bedrock of many organisations' networks, which receives its much anticipated first Service Pack As could be expected, SP1 focuses primarily on core security updates but the Redmond giant was keen to stress there are some performance enhancing adjustments included as well.
Naturally enough, however, it is the safe guarding of their businesses that most companies are concerned about and to this end Server 2003 receives boosts in three main areas. To begin with a new Security Configuration Wizard reduces the attack surface area of a network to hackers by gathering information about specific server roles then automatically blocking all services and ports not needed to perform those roles.
Secondly, a beefed up version of Windows Firewall allows network wide control through group policy and serves as a host software firewall around each client and server computer on a customer’s network.
Thirdly, Post-Setup Security Updates (PSSU) aims to remove that vulnerable time between first OS installation and the application of the latest security updates by blocking all inbound connections to the server until the patches are applied.
Smaller features such as Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Metabase Auditing (deep breath!) which strengthens minimum security thresholds for applications; and the Network Access Quarantine Control components that isolate out of date VPN assets are also worth mentioning.
As speed increases go, Gates’ boys say organisations can expect to see performance and reliability gains of up to 50 per cent but that was qualified with the usual “depending upon workload” vagaries. Either way, it should be a little bit quicker.
Those keen to grab SP1 for Server 2003 can find it available for free download here. File size is a chunky, but reasonable 329MB.