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Microsoft releases service packs galore

Third and final service pack for Office 2007 wares promised soon

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In the past few weeks, Microsoft has released a slew of service packs for SQL Server 2008, as well as SP2 for its firewall, Forefront Threat Management Gateway. It also promised the third-and-final service pack for its Office 2007 wares.

Forefront Threat Management Gateway SP2, was quietly released earlier this week. TMG, formerly known as ISA Server, is Microsoft's combo firewall and anti-malware/intrusion detection tool. SP2 includes a new "site activity" report that reports on what kinds of websites employees are visiting. It now supports Kerberos Authentication when deploying an array using network load balancing.

SQL Server 2008 SP3 is a roll-up update that includes about a dozen individual, already-released bug fixes for the database, and fixes of other issues reported by users but not solved in the normal patch cycles. It includes a few minor feature upgrades in logs, warning messages and query outcomes, however Microsoft saved most of the goodies and released a separate update, known as SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3 (SP3) Feature Pack. This collection of tools, available for free as individual downloads adds features to SQL Server 2008 SP3. The feature pack consists of a couple of dozen add-ons such as ADOMD.NET, a tool to create client-side applications from metadata data or information stored in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services.

The Analysis Services 10.0 OLE DB Provider tool performs a similar function but supports the OLE database specification. The SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP1 tool lets developers write apps that will run across desktops and smartphones. Plus there are data mining add-ons, a driver for PHP 1.0 that lets users access SQL data via PHP script, Powershell extensions, and Report Builder 2.0, for building custom reports.

This package is not to be confused with the SQL Server "Denali," which is SQL Server 2012. A community technology preview of the next major upgrade to SQL Server was released over the summer. Denali will include a host of feature upgrades and will support mind-bogglingly large database queries with speedy response times, Microsoft promises.

The company also updated its freebie version of SQL Server, the SQL Server 2008 SP3 Express Edition. Express tops out at 10GB of storage per database.

Office 2007 SP3 and SharePoint Server 2007 SP3 will be the final service packs for the Office 2007 editions, the Microsoft Office Sustained Engineering Team said in a blog post earlier this month. April 2012 will be the end of mainstream support for the original 2007 products and April 2014 will be end of life for mainstream support for the whole Office 2003 family. So if you haven't upgraded your version of Office in eight years, you've only got a few years left before Microsoft will force your hand.

Microsoft was vague about the date for the Office 2007 SP3, but promised it before year-end and hinted it will be out sometime in October, too. It will, of course, include all cumulative patches and fixes. Together, the two SP3 releases for Office and SharePoint Server 2007 will include fixes or new features for the clients suites; dependent tools like SharePoint Search Server, Designer, Project and Visio; proofing tools, a calendar printing tool and data connectivity components.

Here are the links to download the service packs:

Forefront Threat Management Gateway SP2

SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3 Feature Pack

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 SP3 Express Edition


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