Check out SQLServerBuilds.blogspot.com, a site that lists cumulative updates and service packs. Here’s a remixed version:
The first service pack seems to come out fairly quickly, but after the first one, it’s a year or more. Makes sense – you find a lot of bugs quickly, right?
Microsoft released at least one service pack per year, but … not last year. 2013 saw no service pack releases, and it’s been 442 days since the last service pack (SQL 2012 SP1) shipped.
Is Microsoft taking too long? Let’s look at each current version missing a service pack:
- SQL 2012 has been waiting 442 days for SP2 – but that’s actually right in the range for normal SP2 releases. SQL Server 2008 went 540 days before SP2.
- SQL 2008R2 has been waiting 545 days for SP3 – but that’s also less time than it took for SQL 2005 to get its SP3, so no cause for panic here yet.
- SQL 2008 has been waiting 839 days for SP4 – here we actually do see some cause for alarm, because no supported SQL Server version has gone that long without a service pack.
When you step back and take the long view, we’re not really in that bad of shape yet – but I can see why people would be disturbed that no service packs have been released in over a year. It might just be a timing coincidence, or it might be something more.
But it does beg the question – what if Microsoft just stopped releasing SQL Server service packs altogether, and the only updates from here on out were hotfixes and cumulative updates? How would that affect your patching strategy? Most shops I know don’t apply cumulative updates that often, preferring to wait for service packs. There’s an impression – correct or not – that service packs are better-tested than CUs.