Technical problems have caused more slippage in Microsoft's Service Pack release schedule, internetnews.com has learned. This time, it's Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 that's in trouble.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that SP1, expected at year's end, could arrive as much as six months later. The delay also affects Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems, which is tied to Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1.

"We now anticipate Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems will ship in the first half of 2005," the spokesperson said.

Windows Service Packs are designed to provide incremental enhancements in functionality and, increasingly, in security. Windows Server 2003 SP1 is focused on providing security, performance and reliability enhancements for the server software.

Microsoft typically releases several service pack candidates before the final release, and doesn't provide a firm ship date.

"As is the case with all Microsoft product schedules, the development cycle is driven by quality with a focus on the needs of our customers, rather than an arbitrary date," the spokesperson said via e-mail.

Also today, Microsoft released a service pack for Office 2003. It includes enhancements for Office OneNote 2003 and Office InfoPath 2003.

The next service pack due to ship, Windows XP SP2, is expected in August, following a couple of revisions to the non-schedule. It will include focus on security, revamping the Internet Explorer browser with a new add-on management and crash detection tool and several modifications to the browser's default security settings. It will include a new Windows Security Center.