When customers call Microsoft Product Support, and the end result is that a bug or security vulnerability in the OS or application is identified, the support engineers work with the programmers to develop a Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) solution to the problem. Typically, only the customer that has reported this problem will have access to these files. QFEs can also come from developers after the products have been released to market to correct known issues. The next step is to take the most serious of these QFEs and post them as hotfixes. All hotfixes are documented. The name of the hotfix is derived from the Knowledge Base article used to document the fix.
Ultimately, when Microsoft, in conjunction with a group of beta testers and partners, has had a chance to regression test the hotfixes, a Service Pack will be issued. Service Packs are collections of regression-tested hotfixes.
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This was first published in February 2005