Microsoft is letting customers disable installation of SP2 until they are ready to deal with the multitude of problems it brings.
Users, largely expected to be corporates, can prevent the installation of the newly minted XP service pack while permitting the installation of all other automatic OS updates.
The idea is that smaller organisations may find that the update process overwhelms their resources.
In the Technet section of its site, Microsoft said that, "some organisations have requested the ability to temporarily disable delivery of this update via AU (automatic update) and WU (Windows update) - in order to provide additional time for validation and testing of the update".
The move follows IBM's instruction to its employees not to install SP2.
Microsoft explains three ways of disabling the installation. All rely on the presence of a new registry key originally created for in-house use during the development of the service pack.
However, Microsoft is encouraging companies to use its Software Update Services or Systems Management Server so that users can enable automatic updates which are then redirected to an internal company server.
The option to disable installation of SP2 while leaving automatic updates enabled expires 120 days after 16 August, at which point users will have little option unless they disable all updates.
It is early days for user feedback, although some posts on technical forums suggest that few problems have so far been detected.
However, one user's posting was symptomatic of the general attitude.
"I'm not letting it within ten feet of a rig whose operation is critical. I don't have time to spend four hours trying to coax my system back to life. I'd rather take my chances with the security flaws," it said.
Manek Dubash writes for Techworld.com