It seems that every since SQL Server 2005, the SQL Server group at Microsoft has been driven to work on the next version of SQL Server, incorporating new features and functions, with support for previous versions fading quickly. Despite the fact that the support policy calls for 10 years of support at a minimum, it seems the level of support fades as the team moves on.
I remember when SQL Server 2000 was in widespread use and we could expect service packs every year, along with SPs for Windows, Exchange, etc. That frequency faded when SQL Server 2005 was released, and after SP for that version, Microsoft did not plan to release future service packs. We put out a few calls for votes, and eventually we got SP3, and with more votes, SP4. I highly suspect that if customers had not let Microsoft know service packs were important, those patches would not have been released.
Since SQL Server 2008 has been released, Microsoft has moved into the 2-3 timeframe for new releases. It's 6 years since that version, just over halfway through its lifecycle, but we've been stuck at SP3 since 2011, SQL Server 2008 R2 has been stuck at SP2 since 2012, and SQL Server 2012 has only seen one SP. While there have been many CUs, all with a disclaimer to wait for the next SP if you don't have specific issues, customers haven't been getting regular service packs.
There's a Connect item from Glenn Berry asking for final SPs for 2008 and 2008 R2. Please vote if you don't have time to test all the CUs and would like to see yearly rollups of all patches. It only takes a moment of your day. Click through now and let MS know that SPs are important to us and they make our jobs administering instances easier with fewer patches for us to test and manage.
I'd like to see a final service pack for all products as they leave mainstream support. It's the least Microsoft can do when their software still has bugs on that date.
Vote for Final Service Packs today and pass the word.