The Concept of Service Packs Lives on at Microsoft

The company will soon launch a new service pack for its software

Believe it or not, Microsoft is still working to release some new service packs in the coming years, even though everyone believed that Redmond is finally prepared to make the switch to a more frequent release cycle for its product lineup.

The company announced recently that Office 2013, the latest version of its productivity suite, would get the first service pack in early 2014, confirming that this old concept is not yet dead despite all recent comments of both users and the media.

The company’s outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer himself hinted with several occasions that no more service packs would be released, choosing instead to go for rapid releases supposed to correct bugs, improve features, and add new functionality to its products.

Truth is, the upcoming service pack will only be aimed at Office, so it might not break down Microsoft’s typical release schedule for Windows and other products.

And still, it’s interesting to note that the latest service pack was launched in February 2011 for Windows 7, the operating system that continues to hold the leading spot when it comes to desktop platforms. So the question remains: could Microsoft release a second service pack for Windows 7?

It’s probably safe to assume that this will never happen.

First of all, Microsoft has already embraced an annual release cycle that brings updates or major releases for the Windows product lineup, with Windows 8 launched in October 2012 and 8.1 approximately one year later.

What’s more, people familiar with the matter hinted that Windows 9 could be launched in late 2014 or in early 2015, which again seems to be part of the same annual release cycle.

There’s one thing, however, that’s in contrast with this new strategy. Microsoft is working on a large update for Windows 8, internally called Spring GDR Update, which could be released in early 2014, only a few months after the public launch of Windows 8.1.

In the end, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft is fully prepared to abandon the concept of service pack or it will continue to keep it alive for specific products across its range. As usual, Redmond refuses to comment on service packs and its new release cycle.

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