August 17, 2004 8:30 AM PDT

Microsoft delays SP2 auto update

Microsoft is delaying distribution of Windows XP Service Pack 2 via its Automatic Update service by at least nine days in order to give corporate customers more time to temporarily block automatic downloading of SP2 by their employees.

The software maker notified customers of the decision in an e-mail on Sunday, one day before it had planned to make SP2 available through automatic distribution. Microsoft said many big companies aren't ready to make the move and need more time to put in place tools to block automatic updates to SP2 until they can fully test their internal applications.

SP2 now won't be available on Automatic Update for users of Windows XP Professional Edition until Aug. 25 at the earliest, according to the e-mail, which was posted to a number of enthusiast Web sites, including one run by Steven Bink, a software developer based in Amsterdam.

A Microsoft representative verified the authenticity of the e-mail.

The delay largely affects users of Windows XP Professional Edition that rely on Microsoft's Windows Update/Automatic Update services. People running Windows XP Home Edition will get SP2 via Automatic Update beginning on Wednesday. Big companies that use Microsoft's Software Update Services for patch management received SP2 on Monday as originally scheduled.

Microsoft released Service Pack 2 to PC manufacturers on Aug. 6 after a number of delays.

Along with various bug fixes, SP2 adds a new "security center" that is intended to provide a beefed-up firewall and 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.

A rough debut
Compatibility with older applications is a major concern for corporate users. Microsoft on Monday published a list of nearly 50 software applications and games that may encounter problems with SP2. A range of tools are listed in the Microsoft report, including several of the software maker's own products, along with various antivirus tools and Web server software applications.

The auto update delay is unlikely to be a problem for customers. Many companies appear to be in no hurry to install the update. IBM told employees last week 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."

The glitches with existing Windows applications aren't a surprise because SP2's new firewall technology "was inevitably going to cause problems with applications and their ability connect to the Internet," said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with RedMonk.

Few people using Windows at home have firewall software installed, so they will be better off, he said.

But O'Grady took Microsoft to task for SP2's launch to large companies, and in particular for conflicts between the update and Microsoft's own management tools. "IT administrators should have had the ability to granularly and selectively deploy this from day one, and the conflicts with System Management Server in particular don't help there," he said.

Despite SP2's rocky debut, O'Grady said that on the balance the update is worth the trouble. "Given the recent spate of attacks and problems, this update--as painful as it has been--is a necessary evil."

16 comments

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SP2 versus Windows lowest TCO
A simple OS update stops your applications. You have to patch a Service Pack (aka as correcting the correction).
How can anyone say that Windows has lowest TCO than other OS ?
Simple: account all the patch costs in the application budget. After all, is the application that has stopped. Then Windows has indeed the lowest TCO. It is called Enron SP2...
Posted by pietrodelai (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please re-read that article before posting!
If you paid attention to the article, it clearly shows that the majority of the problems are related to the built-in firewall itself denying the apps network access.

Contrary to popular beleifs, most corporations do not have PC-level firewalls (it's handled on the firewall). The fact that many apps are having problems with connectivity means that the firewall is too restrictive for them to operate properly.

Microsoft could have taken the "easy" way out by having the firewall installed with relaxed rules, but they opted to secure the OS first, and deal with the problems that may bring out ahead of time. For that, MS SHOULD BE COMMENDED!

Consumers will have an even harder time once SP2 filters down to them, as a lot of consumers simply are not aware of the need (or care to run) a firewall on their PCs. So there will be a lot of complaints coming out on Wednesday.

This will only serve to highlight the fact that most users do not have firewalls on their systems.
Posted by Tex Murphy PI (165 comments )
Link Flag
Why do consumers have to wait?
I've been with Microsoft since the beginning. Update after
update after update. Just recently did I get smart and buned
everything PC and Microsoft and went with a true technology
leader like Apple. This just proves how much control Microsoft
has on big business and the consumers alike. I've have
destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed and destroyed again the XP
operating system for the last 3 years and this I can tell you.

To this day I cannot explain to my clients; why there are 3 virus'
a day attacking a Microsoft Program, why there system crashes
uncontrollably after a "Critical System Update", and why they
have to wait and extra 9 days to patch the very same systems
that big corportate has.

Why, Bill Gates, do we have to wait? As explained before, I got
smart and don't own a PC. But I do care for the security and
maintenance of my clients and that's important enough for me
to care. Why Bill?
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You Do Not Have to Wait
Microsoft has released Windows XP SP2 to the public. It is a 250MB download designed for IT professionals to update systems. The link is <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=3e90dc91-ac56-4665-949b-beda3080e0f6&#38;DisplayLang=en" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=3e90dc91-ac56-4665-949b-beda3080e0f6&#38;DisplayLang=en</a> to get the file.
Posted by wwoodfordnc (1 comment )
Link Flag
A scenario for you....
Here's one to think about. Let's say that Steve Jobs had decided 20 years ago not to keep his technology so close, and maybe he hadn't pulled back licsense agreements several times as he has. If he had made his computer platform and OS more available to consumers, we would most likely be asking these questions of him.

The answer to your "clients" question of why so many attacks is simple, and if you are in the IT profession it would be obvious; does 95 percent of the market give a clue? If Steve Jobs/Apple had achieved this, it would be him under attack.

No OS is safe from attack, the people orchestrating these attacks have one simple goal...create the most havoc, or cause the most damage. If that were your goal would you concentrate on only 3-5 percent of the market?

Just a thought.....
Posted by tOxiCwaSTe (5 comments )
Link Flag
Yawn
As if this will be the last patch coming too late and breaking things in the process and not turn out to be the definite answer.

At least it'll keep some people busy enough to stop them from looking around.
Posted by arthur-b (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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