April 3, 2005 9:00 PM PDT

Businesses slow to move to SP2

Microsoft has urged businesses running Windows XP to upgrade their machines to take advantage of added security features, but only a quarter of XP corporate machines have been upgraded to Service Pack 2, according to a new study.

In a study of 136,000 corporate PCs, Canadian asset tracking firm AssetMetrix found that more than one-third of the computers were running Windows XP, but only 24 percent had installed the security-oriented Service Pack 2 upgrade.

Companies were initially reticent to jump to SP2 when it debuted last year, but the AssetMetrix study found that most companies weren't blocking SP2 entirely; they just had not upgraded in large numbers. Of the 207 companies that were using XP on at least 10 machines, about 40 percent were blocking SP2 universally. At the other extreme, about 8 percent had forced the SP2 on all XP-based machines as a matter of policy.

"Very few companies have drawn the line in the sand," said Steve O'Halloran, managing director of AssetMetrix Research Labs. "A good deal of the companies have a mixed environment."

Smaller companies were somewhat more likely to fully move to SP2, but in general most businesses tended to have it only on some sub-segment of their XP-based computers.

A Microsoft representative said the figures from AssetMetrix are in line with what the software maker had expected, noting that it anticipated deployment would take 12 to 18 months for many large companies.

The company said a survey it did late last year of 800 enterprise customers found that three-quarters of the businesses planned to deploy SP2 by the middle of this year. Among the companies Microsoft highlighted were Merrill Lynch, which plans to deploy SP2 across 50,000 desktops over the next several months and law firm Holland & Knight, which recently completed deployment of SP2 across all 3,500 desktops.

The report comes just as many businesses will suddenly find themselves with a lot more users of SP2. Until now, companies have been able to block computers from automatically downloading SP2 from Microsoft's server even as the machines continue to get other updates to Windows. However, as of April 12, that option will end and all XP computers that have Windows XP's automatic update feature enabled will receive SP2.

Microsoft first announced the SP2 blocking tool last August. A month later, Microsoft extended the grace period allowing customers to block SP2 through April 12.

AssetMetrix is recommending that companies test and deploy SP2 ahead of the April 12 deadline. In addition to the security benefits, O'Halloran noted that SP2 is likely to be the only version of XP that will be compatible with Microsoft's forthcoming Internet Explorer 7 and that support for Service Pack 1 is slated to end late next year.

But O'Halloran said that many companies either haven't established a formal policy toward SP2 or were not enforcing that position.

"We're noticing a lack of coherence between what people want to do and what people are doing."

Even after next week's deadline, companies can still choose to avoid SP2 by using either a Microsoft or third-party program to have updates gathered from a company's internal server, rather than directly downloaded from Microsoft.

10 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
IE7
so they're going to force people to use SP2 by making IE7 compatible with SP2 only? sounds just like MS. oh well, more reason for people to switch to the Fox.

and yes, i know that i messed up the first sentence, it's still morning.
Posted by Scott W (419 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: IE7
I don't think that is a good enough reason to switch to SP2. Here at my office I started switching people to SP2, but because it requires a fresh install to insure it doesn't crash the computer, it takes awhile.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
IE7
so they're going to force people to use SP2 by making IE7 compatible with SP2 only? sounds just like MS. oh well, more reason for people to switch to the Fox.

and yes, i know that i messed up the first sentence, it's still morning.
Posted by Scott W (419 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re: IE7
I don't think that is a good enough reason to switch to SP2. Here at my office I started switching people to SP2, but because it requires a fresh install to insure it doesn't crash the computer, it takes awhile.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
12-18 months to upgrade? Just in time for Longhorn!
So the process can start all over again! Windows XP and a recent version of Office provide most users with the features they need -- there's no compelling reasons (or features) that warrant staying on the upgrade carousel.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly - that's always the case.
You're exactly right and that's always been the case. When I read the article headline, my first thought was: How many companies have actually switched to _XP_?

Companies were slow to adopt Win2K because there weren't too many compelling reasons to move from NT to 2K, especially for smaller businesses. Eventually a lot of them went to 2K just in time for XP. Now there's no great compelling reason for them to switch to XP. I figure more businesses will adopt XP late, like they did with 2K, and then Longhorn will come out.
Posted by (38 comments )
Link Flag
12-18 months to upgrade? Just in time for Longhorn!
So the process can start all over again! Windows XP and a recent version of Office provide most users with the features they need -- there's no compelling reasons (or features) that warrant staying on the upgrade carousel.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly - that's always the case.
You're exactly right and that's always been the case. When I read the article headline, my first thought was: How many companies have actually switched to _XP_?

Companies were slow to adopt Win2K because there weren't too many compelling reasons to move from NT to 2K, especially for smaller businesses. Eventually a lot of them went to 2K just in time for XP. Now there's no great compelling reason for them to switch to XP. I figure more businesses will adopt XP late, like they did with 2K, and then Longhorn will come out.
Posted by (38 comments )
Link Flag
Turnover time
At least we should have several years left before M$ is able to force the switch to Longhorn through forced obsolence as it has with all the others. By then I, for one, will be done with windows and all things M$ permanently.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Turnover time
At least we should have several years left before M$ is able to force the switch to Longhorn through forced obsolence as it has with all the others. By then I, for one, will be done with windows and all things M$ permanently.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.