August 9, 2004 8:54 AM PDT

IBM goes slow on XP update

Microsoft says that the code for its update to the Windows XP operating system is finally ready. But IBM's internal technology department disagrees.

On Friday Microsoft released Service Pack 2 to PC manufacturers after a number of delays. That means it will be available to customers before the end of the month.


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The business end of SP2
For enterprises, mass deployment
of the Windows XP service pack
isn't a practical reality, Forrester says.


But IBM last week told employees to hold off installing SP2 until Big Blue can fully test and customize it. The company's technology department said the delay is "due to known application problems and incompatibility with IBM workstation applications."

Along with various bug fixes, SP2 adds a new "security center" that is intended to provide a beefed-up firewall as well as easy ways to tell whether a PC is updated and protected against viruses. In addition, SP2 includes a pop-up blocker in the Internet Explorer browser and updated support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies.

In the memo to employees, seen by CNET News.com, IBM's internal technology department stated that Windows XP SP2 will "change the behavior of Internet Explorer and cause some application incompatibilities." The memo also noted that some "high-profile, business-critical applications are also known to conflict with SP2."

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IBM's Global Services consulting arm, which works with many companies to design and build information systems, has not yet issued any recommendations to its customers.

One IBM employee in the company's internal technology department characterized the decision as routine. The person said that IBM will need to test and customize the new version of Windows before installing it throughout the company. Big Blue's internal technology department maintains about 380,000 desktop PCs.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has described SP2 as the most extensive free update to Windows ever, and executives have acknowledged that work on the update has delayed other projects, including Longhorn, the next major version of Windows.

The update should be distributed to approximately 100 million PCs through automatic updates during the next two months, Microsoft said. Customers who choose to download manually will be able to do so by the end of August.

While some businesses, such as IBM, are deciding to test the update throroughly before installing it, consumers buying new PCs are likely to get SP2 soon. Microsoft said it is working with computer manufacturers to get them to start using SP2 as soon as possible.

The company had planned internally to release the software earlier last week but pushed it out to fix some unspecified quality issues.

Last week, Microsoft warned that customers using Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Sales for Outlook 1.2 will encounter problems with the software if they install SP2. Microsoft posted a patch to its Web site that it says fixes the problem.

6 comments

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keystone cops vs. the three stooges
In the long awaited release of SP2, There must be
many Microsoft competitors snickering to themselves.
It is well known that many savy PC users have already installed the "new advanced secrity" tools that SP2 is just now making a part of their system.
It seems that Microsoft is playing cath-up ball.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Done entirely in India
That's the rumor why product quality is so high in XP Pack 2.
Posted by waynehapp (52 comments )
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Let's pray
let's hope SP2 is not the same as SP1, I still don't trust Microsoft's package, although they spent lots time on this one. I think I would wait one or two weeks to upgrade my computers
Posted by MediaNoxStella (7 comments )
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Let's hope SOMETHING breaks!
Here's why...

To maintain maximum application compatibility, MS has had to allow Windows to accept some programs that "break" the rules for the sake of compatibility.

It also introduced a whole slew of programming methods that (in hindsight) should not have been allowed to exist in the first place!

If MS did their homework, then locking up these holes should cause quite a few applications to fail.

Granted, something will always break because of patching, this SP should also allow companies to find other applications that should have been programmed more "properly."

Of course, nobody will really know why the applications broke - other than the fact that it did break.

At least that's the perversed point of view I'm looking at it from.
Posted by Tex Murphy PI (165 comments )
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But I thought they were the glue?
The company that is the very glue that lets buisness systems work togeather can't manage a windows service pack? wow.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
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Use a better example than IBM
The fact that IBM is behind on this should come as no suprise to anyone. IBM hasn't even updated their own applications to use Sun's version of Java -- IBM still requires their employees to run Microsoft's Java VM in order to run their internal applications. Microsoft's Java VM hasn't been available for months now. What a joke. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about "big blue"'s inability to manage applications. More on this, though -- IBM is using web page spawns to run many of their applications, and isn't following Microsoft's security best practices. So -- yes -- many of their apps are going to break if their employees run XP SP2. This is to be expected though. They should have RTFM'd. Companies that understand how to write code in the Microsoft space, and who have followed Microsoft's well documented best practices won't have this problem.
Posted by (1 comment )
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