Microsoft stands firm on SP2 downloads

Twenty million copies of SP2 have been downloaded, but Microsoft is still adamant it will reach the 100 million target next month

Microsoft has reinforced its prediction that it will distribute 100 million copies of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP by the end of October.

Despite allegations that downloads of the upgrade were way behind schedule at 20 million copies by mid-September, the company said on Monday that this meant it was on course for its distribution target.

"We're on track to get 100 million copies out there and it's been going well," said Paul Randle, Windows XP product manager. "We've seen around 500,000 downloads every day, but that will go up as more languages come on board. We're going to up the throttle for auto-updates."

Microsoft released SP2 in August to combat the plethora of holes and vulnerabilities that hackers were exploiting in Windows XP. The firm said that most installations had happened via automatic updates and Windows updates.

Many larger businesses are still testing SP2 for fear that could bring their networks to a halt. In anticipation of this, Microsoft has provided businesses with an SP2 blocker – a tool that allows desktops to download updates without installing SP2.

"Smaller businesses and home users have done very well with deployment," said Randle. "But we've advised larger businesses to table a more structured deployment. We've advised them to do thorough testing."

But not everyone is convinced that the SP2 is so easy. Some firms are treating it as an entirely new operating system.

"My concern is that firms will see this as an operating system upgrade rather than a patch," said Richard Starnes, president of the Information Systems Security Association, UK. "This is worrying because it will take time to test and this will give malware writers more time to exploit the code Microsoft is trying to patch.

"Consumers do not have the Q&A option with Microsoft," he added. "So I wonder how much support will be available for them if their systems are broken." Last week, Microsoft said that it would only offer the latest version of Internet Explorer as part of SP2.

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