Microsoft has launched a do-it-yourself
kit to help IT professionals assess their software's compatibility with
Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Fears among system administrators and IT managers that SP2 may break homegrown applications have already led to delays in corporate launches. To get users back on track and keep developers' blood pressure down, Microsoft is offering the application compatibility testing guide.
The guide, which can be retrieved from Microsoft's Download Center,
is designed to help administrators "test and mitigate application
compatibility issues." Microsoft adds that the guide is meant for a
network of any size and is "as relevant to peer-to-peer environments as
it is to Active Directory environments."
At more than 100 pages, the guide doesn't make for light reading. It
covers the havoc that SP2 could wreak on machines running Windows XP,
how to go about testing for incompatibility issues and how to fix the
problems that come up. The guide also provides two possible deployment
road maps for businesses unsure about how to launch the service pack.
In the guide, Microsoft warns: "increasing security in the network
environment can result in legitimate applications or features not
operating as expected...Applications that were not designed to meet
these higher security requirements may experience some compatibility
The guide gives advice about how to reconfigure XP to help keep
applications on their feet but adds: "This procedure is not recommended
but may be necessary in the short term." The party line from Microsoft,
however, is that it's the applications, not the operating system, that
should be rejiggered and that security settings should always be left
at their highest level once administrators have finished tinkering.
Microsoft is well aware of how SP2 can affect applications; the software behemoth has already published a list of nearly 50 programs that face problems if the service pack is installed. Microsoft has also had to issue a patch that allows its CRM (customer relationship management) product to continue working once SP2 is installed.