Lights go out for Microsoft's anti-SP2 tool

Lights go out for Microsoft's anti-SP2 tool

Summary: From today Windows XP SP2 will install itself on any remaining business computers that have avoided the upgrade


Microsoft is today disabling its own software tool that prevented Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) from automatically downloading itself onto business computers.

This means that people who wanted to prevent the roll out of SP2 may now be forced incorporate it into their systems.

An emailed statement from Microsoft said: "On April 12th, a tool blocking the download of Windows XP SP2 via Automatic Updates will expire and SP2 will automatically be downloaded."/P>

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 around Windows XP. The main concern of the forced rollout is that SP2 automatically enables the operating system's firewall. Although for many users and sysadmins this makes more sense than having it disabled by default, it also means if the firewall fails to recognise an application, it could prevent it 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 that companies still looking to prevent the roll out of SP2 to use a patch management tool, such as System Updates Services (SUS). 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, global information security director for ICI. "So far I've yet to see any clarification."

But one ZDNet UK reader said she believes the roll out 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."

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • The cases of problems with the rollout will be scattered but they will exist and some will be major. I ran SP2 in my test environment and found that some web applications on the firm intranet as well the desktop software link to our Avaya IP Office 412 phone system were rendered helpless.The software I use to manage and remote control PCs, Goverlan, no longer functioned. Some issues were about the firewall which was not a real problem. I looked at the firewall log file looked for the entries of blocked packets, and i was back in the game.My other problems were not with the firewall, it was with the adjustments of the COM security settings. Now that I know what caused the issue I am able to create the adjustments in my network without issue. To thoes of you who have made intranet pages which makes calls to COM objects or have software which takes advantage of COM, look for documentation on how to set the COM security for your application. So will there be problems? Yes. Can they be fixed? Yes.