On January 21, 2013, Microsoft released SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 2, which is Build 11.0.3339. This Cumulative Update has 50 hotfixes by my count, and two new features (which is quite unusual for a SQL Server Cumulative Update). This CU gets the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 branch to parity with SQL Server 2012 RTM Cumulative Update 5, which was released back on December 17, 2012 (although RTM CU 5 does not have these two new features).

I have asked Microsoft about whether they plan on getting the two branches (RTM and SP1) back in sync, and so far, the answer is no. What this means (unless they change their mind) is that the SQL Server 2012 RTM branch will have new CU releases come out about a month before the “equivalent” release (with the same hotfixes) is released for the SQL Server 2012 SP1 branch. This penalizes people who have done “the right thing” by moving to SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1 in a timely fashion. It will also create a problem for people who choose to stay on the latest CU of the RTM branch (to get the most current hotfixes more quickly) when SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 2 is released in late 2013.

Once SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 2 is released, the 2012 RTM branch will be retired, and will be considered a “non-supported service pack” by Microsoft. Someone who is on the latest RTM CU, would have to move to either SP1 or SP2 to be in a fully supported configuration, but they would not want to immediately do this, since both the SP1 and SP2 branches will be behind the RTM branch in terms of released hotfixes. I could see a customer being stuck in this Catch-22 situation for two-three months, until at least a couple of SP2 CUs are released, and the SP2 branch is caught up to the last RTM CU.

The customer could just wait a month, until the next SP1 CU is released, and then install SP1, and then install the latest SP1 CU, but that will involve more installations and more outages than if they did not have this problem. They could also create a Service Pack 1 slipstream installation that incorporated the latest SP1 CU to reduce the amount of installations.

Microsoft could easily fix this issue by getting the RTM and SP1 branches back in synch (either by delaying an upcoming RTM CU by a month or by getting an upcoming SP1 CU ready a month early). At any rate, I can only rant about this so much…

What do you think?  Does having the CUs for SQL Server 2012 be out of synch matter or not?  I am really curious to hear what people think.