Microsoft has released a major update for its server operating system. Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2has been in beta since November, and the company said that it had been tested by twice as many users as Microsoft's previous Service Pack 1 update, released in March 2005.

Microsoft released the service pack with little notice, prompting one administrator to complain on her blog.

"You gave us admins a heads up before XP sp2 was Microsoft updated out to our boxes," wrote Susan Bradley, chief technology officer with Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun. "Why can't you give us a heads up on this?"

This latest update can be applied to all versions of Windows Server 2003, as well as to Windows XP Professional, X64 edition, Microsoft said. It includes a number of new features including:

  • Scalable Networking Pack - tools that help speed up networking intensive tasks
  • Windows Deployment Services - allows administrators to set up new Windows systems remotely over the network
  • Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 - makes it easier for users to securely connect to wireless networks
  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0 - the latest version of Microsoft's management tools
  • improved IPsec and Firewall management features.