Lights go out for Microsoft's anti-SP2 tool

From today Windows XP SP2 will install itself on any remaining business computers that have avoided the upgrade
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

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."

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