Corporate users of Windows XP will, from today, find they are downloading a 100Mbyte Service Pack 2 security update unless they have disabled Microsoft’s automatic update service.
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Many organisations have yet to deploy SP2, which was released in August 2004 with the aim of making the operating system more secure by default.
AssetMetrix Research Labs studied the IT environments of 251 US companies operating 136,000 PCs and found that only 24% of those running Windows XP had installed SP2.
Microsoft said 185 million copies of Windows XP SP2 have been downloaded worldwide by corporate and home users. “We would like to see more, of course,” said Scott Charney, vice-president for security at Microsoft.
When Microsoft first released SP2, the company recommended that enterprise users take the necessary time to test and evaluate the service pack before deployment.
“We are seeing an uptake in the number of enterprise customers deploying or committing to deploying SP2,” a Microsoft spokesman said.
Microsoft said a recent survey it conducted showed that businesses were keen to deploy SP2. The study of 800 enterprise users found that 77% planned to deploy the service pack over the next six months.
Financial services company Merrill Lynch plans to deploy SP2 across 50,000 PCs by the middle of the year.
Charney said, “The goal is for the widest possible penetration. It is a fairly large service pack.” Some organisations will require the complete installation, which is 250Mbytes.
“We have built better technologies, that will download pieces of it to improve the user experience,” he said.
The service pack offers improvements to the Windows Firewall, which is switched on by default, and support for non-execute chip technology, which is designed to reduce damage caused by buffer overflow programming errors.