April 12, 2005 9:46 AM PDT

Microsoft's SP2 gets pushy

Microsoft is disabling its software tool that prevented Windows XP Service Pack 2 from automatically downloading itself onto business computers.

This means that people who wanted to avoid adopting SP2 may now be forced to incorporate it into their systems.

An e-mailed statement from Microsoft said: "On April 12, a tool blocking the download of Windows XP SP2 via Automatic Updates will expire and SP2 will automatically be downloaded."

The company added that small businesses and home users will not be affected by the change.

SP2 was released last year to bolster the security functions built into Windows XP. The main concern of the forced installment is that SP2 automatically enables the operating system's firewall. For many users and system administrators this makes more sense than having it disabled by default, but it also means that if the firewall fails to recognize an application, it could prevent that program from working smoothly.

"Taking away that option could be time-consuming for administrators," said Alan Phillips, director of training company 7Safe. "One would have thought that Microsoft would have performed sufficient testing for this. It will be interesting to see if there are any stories that come out of this."

Microsoft advised companies still looking to prevent the rollout of SP2 to use a patch management tool such as System Updates Services. But some members of the IT industry were concerned that Microsoft had not provided enough information on this.

"It would have been nice to see Microsoft properly clarifying how this works with SUS," said Paul Simmonds, a global information security director at ICI. "So far, I've yet to see any clarification."

But one ZDNet UK reader believes the move will cause few problems: "I have been installing SP2 on many different machines for some time now, in both business and home environments, and have not experienced any problems. I think the scare stories have put people off, but really, in most cases there is nothing to worry about. The benefits far outweigh the possibility of something going wrong."

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from London.


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Some software will not run with SP2
We have a variety of applications where the vendor has said that under no circumstance should we put SP2 on the machines. For example, some of our scientific equipment has proprietary software that drives it. We've been told that will not function if SP2 is applied. Another is Ecopy, a unit that connects to canon copy machines which allows high speed scanning of documents to PDF. We've been told that also will not work with SP2. (We checked again on 4/8 with no change)

So while our organization may have had plenty of time to prepare for SP2, we are still stuck on a limb when a piece of equipment that may cost a few hundred thousand dollars relies on software that will not function if this update is applied.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Simple solution....
Turn OFF the automatic update feature.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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Clarification about SUS?
That guy needs to learn how to manage his SUS, really. If you have SUS deployed already and it's done right then you just pick what you want your users to have available for updates. The workstations connect to your internal server instead of one operated by Microsoft. So just don't put SP2 on it yet! How much more clarification does the guy need?
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
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