Microsoft delays automatic SP2 delivery

Microsoft has pushed back automatic distribution of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to allow business users more time to instruct...

Microsoft has pushed back automatic distribution of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to allow business users more time to instruct their machines to skip the update.

The software maker now has different schedules for pushing out SP2 to the two editions of Windows XP. Users of the Home Edition should start getting the update this Wednesday (18 August), while the Professional Edition will not be updated until 25 August, according to an e-mail Microsoft sent to select users over the weekend.

The initial schedule called for Microsoft to begin releasing SP2 via the Automatic Updates feature in Windows to all editions of Windows XP on Monday 16 August.

Microsoft advises consumers to enable Automatic Updates in Windows XP to patch their systems, but recommends businesses use patch management tools, such as its Systems Management Server and Software Update Services, or third-party products.

However, Microsoft was surprised by the large number of business users who rely on Automatic Updates, so last week it made available a mechanism to temporarily block the download of SP2 on XP systems. The updated release schedule is meant to give users more time to put that SP2 block in place.

While Microsoft has been criticised in the past over SP2 delays, this time the schedule change is intended to address the requests of users worried that the update will cause chaos because of compatibility problems.

SP2 makes significant changes to Windows in the name of increased security. As a result, SP2 can render existing applications inoperable. Because of those changes, many businesses are delaying the installation of the service pack and are taking time for testing. Automatic Updates initially did not give users that flexibility.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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