I just had a thought. Microsoft is scheduled to stop supporting Windows NT 4.0 by the end of this year. Effectively forcing most of the rest of the organizations still using it to upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 or live without the prospect of tech support or new patches.
Many of the people who are still on NT4 are on it because it suits their needs perfectly well, still others don't want to apply every upgrade that MS comes up with.
Perhaps the latter group would just as soon move to Windows 2003, skipping Windows 2000 altogether, but have been waiting until SP1 is released as has been historically wise before adopting Microsoft products.
What if Microsoft is deliberatly waiting to release SP1 for Windows 2003 to try to coerce people into upgradeing to a pre-SP1 MS prouct.
Really the other option is to go to Windows 2000 and potentially be forced up upgrade AGAIN as soon as a year from now.
I'm betting most people still on NT4 will end up migrating to 2003 instead of 2000 in spite of the fact that there is no SP1 for it. I'm also betting that most of these people would feel more comfortable if SP1 were here today.
I'm sure MS hates that some people don't like to deploy every new version they release, they also probably don't like that most people feel that any MS prodcut is not ready for prime time prior to SP1, maybe this is their revenge, forcing people to chose between two options they don't like.
Admittedly, I've been working with 2003 in a non prodcution environment for more than a year and it seems reasonably stable, perhaps because it's really not that much different than Windows 2000, following the old MS version number if Windows 2000 is NT 5.0 then Windows 2003 is probably NT 5.1 or maybe 5.5 (even MS has an internal version number of 5.2 for Windows 2003, accessible if you know where to look)
On a related note, I strongly suspect that MS could sell a LOT more Windows 2003 if they would go ahead and release SP1, but that's something I suspect they will do in Q1 05.