In late April 2009, Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.
Service Pack 2 integrates a number of hot fixes released since Service Pack 1. In addition, it includes stability and performance enhancements to the following SharePoint related systems:
· Enterprise Content Management (MOSS Publishing)
· Forms Server
· Groove Server
· Excel Server
· Project Server
· Search Server
Service Pack 2 also adds supports for Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 2/3, and Windows Server 2008.
In addition, Service Pack 2 provides some forward-looking functions that allow you to scan your installation for compatibility with upgrades to the next version of the SharePoint platform. Specifically, the stsadm command line administrative utility adds a “-preupgradecheck” switch that reports on what needs to be done to prepare your server farm for the 2010 upgrade.
Since Service Pack 2 rolls up a number of interim releases since Service Pack 1, it includes the Infrastructure Update from July 2008. This update added Federated Search (a feature introduced with Search Server 2008). Federated search allows you to expand your search scope to cover external sources (such as Google) not directly covered by your own server’s crawling activities, and gives you more control in how you present those results.
What’s also included, unfortunately
However, Service Pack 2 also includes a bug that makes SharePoint servers revert to 180-day trial mode. Microsoft has documented a workaround for this issue -- specifically, reentering the product license key in SharePoint Central Administration (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971620). They also have a hotfix that will automatically undo the trialware bug (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971620). Microsoft has committed to releasing a "clean" SP2 by August 2009.
Microsoft will also shortly release an automatic, permanent fix for this bug.
We recognize that this is a relatively low impact workaround. Many organizations may be comfortable accepting this as a necessary step in the process. Although Microsoft performs extensive regression testing on its major service packs, these kinds of issues are rare. Nonetheless, at this point, we recommend deferring any further general deployments of this Service Pack until at least several weeks after the Microsoft releases a permanent solution to the bugs identified, unless you have a specific need addressed by the Service Pack. If you don’t need the updates, give Microsoft a few more weeks to stabilize them.
But wait, there’s more…
Two days after Microsoft issued Service Pack 2, they released the April 2009 Cumulative Update (“CU”) for the Office 2007 platform. The Cumulative Update isn’t just one file – it’s actually a large group of patches for both the Office 2007 clients and the servers. For example, there are separate patches for MOSS, WSS, Search Server, Excel Server, Forms Server, Info Path, Project Server, etc. Not every patch is necessary for every system. However, in many cases, the CU updates will fix a much larger set of issues than the service pack. And the CU requires SP2 as a prerequisite for installation. Selecting the right mix of updates to solve a specific problem requires some planning and research.
Service Packs and Hot Fixes
In general, Service Packs go through a much higher level of regression testing and development at Microsoft. As a result, it’s usually appropriate to test and deploy Service Packs upon release. On the other hand, single hot fixes are not extensively cross checked, and are usually developed only to address a specific issue. Unless you have been advised to use a hot fix to address a discrete problem, users should not plan on general deployment of hot fixes.
Cumulative Updates and Infrastructure Updates are handled somewhat differently from Service Packs and Hot Fixes. In our experience, Microsoft Support is recommending wide deployment of these as an initial step in resolving most system issues.
Finally, Microsoft’s anticipated revised Service Pack 2 (with the fix for the trialware bug) can be expected to undergo significant testing before its release. As a result, users can place even higher confidence in the stability of the future SP2 than in the current SP2 plus the workaround.
For users with specific issues addressed by fixes contained in this release:
Since SP2 integrates many post-SP1 hot fixes, we recommend the cautious deployment of Service Pack 2 (and the CU as warranted) for these specific situations. However, users should be fully aware that they will need to perform the manual workarounds noted in Microsoft KB article 971620. In addition, these updates should first be installed and tested in non-production environments, and only deployed in conjunction with full system backups.
We recommend standard deployment of Service Packs when issued by Microsoft. However, as noted above, we recommend that clients defer Service Pack 2 installations until Microsoft deploys its official automated fix for the trialware bug in the original release. Unlike hot fixes for specific problems, Microsoft performs extensive regression testing for Service Packs. However, even Microsoft’s testing can only approximate the wide range of field conditions. As always, service packs should first be applied in a non-production environment, and full backups should be maintained prior to deployment.
In general, once Microsoft issues their update to the Service Pack, SP2 contains a wide range of enhancements that hold benefit for almost all environments.
Please contact your lead consultant or partner to discuss how we can help you plan for and execute this SP application. Also, KMA would be pleased to offer additional advice for your specific configuration if you have more detailed questions.
For additional information on Microsoft SharePoint Service Pack 2: http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2009/04/28/announcing-service-pack-2-for-office-sharepoint-server-2007-and-windows-sharepoint-services-3-0.aspx
For additional information on the SP2 bug: http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2009/05/21/attention-important-information-on-service-pack-2.aspx
For additional information on the April 2009 Cumulative Updates: