Windows XP Service Pack 2 is ready for you. Are you ready for it?
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The automatic download blocker that Microsoft implemented in August will expire April 12, at which time SP2 will be automatically installed on machines running Windows XP or Windows XP Service Pack 1.
SP2 has generally received good reviews for its ability to better protect desktops from worms and viruses, but it has also drawn some criticism from enterprise users because it interferes with their applications. The updated XP SP2 application testing kit now gives administrators additional information for evaluating how the service pack will work with various applications.
Impact depends on the organization
Industry experts disagree on whether the expiration of the download blocker will have an effect on enterprise systems.
Iams said that enterprises have had ample time to test the service pack and should be ready to download it if they haven't done so yet. The impact of deployment, he said, will depend on the organization and the applications it runs. The degree of customization is also a factor.
Michael Cherry, a lead analyst at the Directions on Microsoft consulting firm in Kirkland, Wash., said that his group anticipates little enterprise disruption with the expiration of the download blocker.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, in San Jose, Calif., agrees.
"I'm not expecting it to have a huge impact," Enderle said. Most enterprises have already deployed the service pack or have been using machines that restrict others from installing patches without an administrator's approval, he said.
Analysts also agreed that the security benefits of deploying SP2 outweigh any application compatibility issues.
"If people had their choice, would they prefer not to deal with SP2? Of course," said Iams. "But … there's really no choice. It's a requirement, and that's just the reality of living in the Internet world."