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Third-party tool automates Windows XP SP2 updates

Since Windows XP Service Pack 3 won't be released until year's end, most administrators have to update their Windows XP environment manually. However, a third-party utility, RyanVM's Post-SP2 Update Pack, automates most of the update process, and provides the latest hotfixes and Windows updates to keep your XP environment current.

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Due to the amount of security-related work in Microsoft Windows Vista that has to be slowly backported into Windows XP, word has it that Windows XP Service Pack 3 will be released toward year's end. In the meantime, anyone making a fresh install of Windows XP is stuck downloading a ton of updates, even if installing from a CD that's been pre-patched with Windows Service Pack 2. It's possible to download the updates and add them to an install CD manually, but the sheer number of updates involved (over 140 at last count!) makes for a losing proposition.

I've been asked if there's a way to automate the process, aside from installing Windows XP SP2 on a machine, getting the updates automatically and creating a system image from that. The short answer is yes—there's a third-party utility, RyanVM's Post-SP2 Update Pack by Ryan VanderMeulen, which automates the procedure to a high degree.

Unfortunately, Post-SP2 Update Pack is only designed to update a Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD image—it doesn't update live systems. That said, if you're starting to build desktops with Windows XP and want the most up-to-the-second disk image you can create, this utility is fairly effective. It also ensures that the installed packages are pre-validated through Microsoft's own code-signing mechanisms.

Using RyanVM's Post-SP2 Update Pack

To use RyanVM's Post- SP2 Update Pack, you need the application and the update collection (this can be downloaded directly from Microsoft and collated by the application author). After copying the contents of the installation CD to a writeable folder, you simply point the SP2 Update Pack program at the writeable folder and at the update packs to apply. Once integration is finished, all that remains is to re-burn the results to a CD or use the patched files in a network-based installation.

Other than the usual collection of hotfixes and Windows updates, you can also download update packs to add Windows Media Player 10, Windows Genuine Advantage (the most recent edition), DirectX 9.0C and other additional/optional programs (such as SyncToy and TweakUI) that do not come with Windows by default.

As a safety measure, it's recommended that you only do this by starting with the install files from a factory-created or MSDN-downloaded XP SP2 install CD. Don't attempt this with an install disc that has already been manually updated. Also, if you download future update packs to use with this program, they should only be applied to a factory-fresh SP2 CD. Finally, RyanVM's Post-SP2 Update Pack should be considered an unofficial solution to the post-SP2 update situation, so it's best to test it out before using it in any kind of production environment.

About the author:Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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