All that's wrong with SP2

by Preston Gralla

A week ago, I warned people that they should hold off for a month before installing SP2 because of the inevitable bugs that'll accompany the initial rollout. Well, the bugs have arrived.

No great surprise - Microsoft has listed nearly 50 applications that have trouble with SP2, ranging from games to anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, network management software, and a host of products from Microsoft itself, including g Visual Studio .Net, Operations Manager, SQL Server and Systems Management Server. For details, see this Knowledge Base article.

Some companies, like IBM, are banning the update for now. Many others are less than enthusiastic about it.

A main culprit is the Windows Firewall, which is turned on by default in SP2. (For some reason, though, it wasn't turned on by default in my installation.) For security, the Windows Firewall is better than nothing, but much inferior to ZoneAlarm and other personal firewalls.

The worst thing about SP2, though, is not what it does, but what it doesn't do. It doesn't overhaul Internet Explorer, which is in much need of updating. True, there's an excellent IE popup blocker in SP2, as well as a safer way to manage downloads. But can't Microsoft do something as simple as let people use tabs for browsing? The fact that Microsoft can't be bothered to add this simple feature shows that it takes its browser market domination for granted.

Still, despite SP2's shortcomings, it's still worth the download. There's greater security, and the popup blocker is one of the niftiest ones I've seen. So wait a few more weeks, then install it.

But it looks like for the real improvements to come, we'll have to wait for Longhorn - and that wait will make the wait for SP2 seem like the blink of an eye.

What do you think of SP2? Let me know.


2004-08-18 14:52:41
Off the mark
Everyone has always known that service pack 2 was never going to be a features update. Service pack 2, from the beginning has always been purely about security. Additionally, it is common knowledge that Microsoft has been lacking in its development of IE over the last few years, but recently has been reassembling its IE team and getting things underway again. The thing is, seeing as this is just a recent occurrence and that service pack 2 has been under development and testing for quite a while now, it's unreasonable to expect that they're going to include nifty but unnecessary little user interface inclusions to the browser in a security update. I think it's both too late premature to be complaining about this. Too late in that people have been complaining about this in IE for ages now, and premature in that seeing as Microsoft is now ramping IE development once again, let's wait and see what they do and then complain if we don't like it, rather than complaining before they even get a chance to work on the real problems, like the huge number of bugs in their rendering engine, which I believe far outweighs the need for tabbed browsing.
2004-08-18 15:45:23
MS should close shop!
Finally the world is waking up and the reality of what a s**t company MS really is is finally becoming apparent to many people. MS should do the world a favor and go away. Trust me, NOONE will miss that junk! God Bless open source, and Apple Computer. REAL technology
2004-08-18 16:01:23
Just getting SP2 is the first problem...
Of course, one the biggest issues has nothing to do with the firewall or IE -- it's the fact that most people either don't have their computer set to automatically download and install updates, or if they do, it's set at the default setting of the 3AM. The people that I know that would benefit the most from SP2, believe in shutting their computers down when they're done. It's what they do with their TV, their stereo and their stove -- it's their mindset. How Microsoft could ship the default setting (at least on my install of XP Pro) for automatic downloads to be at 3AM and expect people to get the update is beyond me. The people whose computers are the most infected with spy/malware aren't reading this site or other tech sites so many (in my informal survey) had no idea what SP2 was, that it was available and what benefit it would provide!
2004-08-18 18:48:15
All that's wrong with XP2
After reviewing the sheer idiocy of Service Pack 2, I was inspired to do some history on Microsoft. If you install Service Pack 2, down goes your commercial firewall, down goes your commercial Anti-virus, and down go all of your configured ports.

If you're running a server and a domain website, you are immediately "Off The Air" until you reconfigure thousands of ports.

My take on this is from my inspired writing, to wit,

Microsoft bug: Microsoft doesn't work

Microsoft has confirmed this to be a bug and it will be fixed in some version.

API Philadelphia "Where we invented the computer!"

The Microsoft OS Performance Team has written thousands of articles about this
bug in an effort to increase the lumberjack industry in Washington State so
they can all get back to an easier, non-thinking job. Now, however,
lumberjacks are concerned that they will be replaced by younger fishermen.

"Not that they really think all that much anyway." states Jan Gray, former
Overseer and Lumberjack from Yakima. "But if I can put my Washington displaced
workers back to work at what they are capable of, I'm all for it."

Hordes of lumberjacks descended on Redmond, Washington for two decades now.
Displaced by the federal conservation laws designed to get lumberjacks out of
the forest and into a place where they could do less harm, led to a massive
influx of re-trained programmers in the early years of Microsoft. California
wages were unacceptible, and the displaced re-trainees of Washington State were
actually paid by the State of Washington out of Federal Funds and thereby
reduced the starting yearly salary in Redmond, Washington, to $00,000.00 "But
lumberjacking is just about fished out." declared Gray. "We at Microsoft are
getting tired of re-training hopeless woodenheads. It is true that they will
take next to nothing in salary just to get in our doors, but we see this as an
indication that fishers and fishermen will take even less. Fishermen don't
like the lumberjacks anyway. Early experiments with fishers led to Team NT,
which soundly whipped the lumberjacks in Team 95. So we're going with
displaced fishermen. The lumberjack crowd is getting old at Microsoft, all of
them are over 25 now and Microsoft does not support long term employment

It is hoped that the specific skills possessed by the displaced fishermen will
lead to an eventual catch of this bug. Unlike the displaced lumberjack workers
who were retrained via the Washington State Unemployment Office because of
massive layoffs when the Forestry Conservation Laws were enforced, it is
presumed that fishers are not hackers, i.e., they will utilize their skills of
bait and hook, as opposed to outright taking something as cumbersome as an ax
to every problem.

What about displaced programmers? "They are not our cup of tea." Gray stated
emphatically. "Using displaced programmers would be like the Pentagon using
U.S. born citizens; it's unthinkable! No, lumberjacks, fishermen, foreignors,
they all do what they're told without conscience. It seems that if you've
never had a real job with real money, you will do anything without thinking.
Again, I'd like to state Microsoft's position on thinking: we won't tolerate
it. We have a longstanding "Just Say NO to thinking" policy here and that's
the way it's going to stay. The thinkers can just go and write working
operating systems like Linux and Unix; we don't want a working OS. We don't
have enough money yet."

What about the time it takes Explorer to refresh the tree screen? "I am
particularly proud of that code, I wrote it. ICompare and Array.Sort were very
troublesome, they were hard to invent as credible ideas. But, like the
Pentagon who I learned from, I figured that if you told people enough times it
was efficient and true, then they would believe it. Everybody believes it now,
even when the delegate GoToLaLaLand is invoked, people just sort of sit there
in a daze waiting for the directory tree to load. We borrowed some code from
'Looker' to flash them into hypnosis via the screen they are stuck at. They
don't even notice the time lapses and losses anymore. And that's good because
we are now teaching the public to "Not Think!" Gray then deferred to Dr. Wirth
of Intel.

"Look, they own us and we do what we're told. When we sell you a 15 gigaHertz
microprocessor, do we tell you that it's the crystal that is only running that
fast? No, we do not! If we were to tell people that their computers are
stilling running at very low megaHertz rates, why they'd call us liars; we
can't have them thinking about the truth. No, like the Pentagon, it's much
better to lie and call it something credible until people believe it through
advertising. I was a fisherman before I did this work you know, just like Sir
Isaac Newton. Einstein was a lumberjack, maybe a programmer, I don't remember
because I don't think anymore. I'm safe at last."

If a Linux programmer fixes the Microsoft bug will he get credit? "Absolutely
not!" says Gray. "We've reverse-engineered all of the source code of Linux now
and we've changed all the words, functions, calls, etc., so that no one can
recognise it and file Copyright Infringement cases and we're not going to start
recognizing real programmers now."

"Look, I'm not saying that our Geos, ahem, I mean Windows Operating System is
the best there is, I'm saying that it is the best there is. Get it? Don't
think, just accept it."

"We're doing everything we can to take the displaced fishermen off the streets
of Seattle and out of the piercing and tattoo shops and give our kids a break!
I mean, how many holes can you put in a person before business goes slack? And
since the Federal Government is going to pay for it, we're going to continue to
get rich off of the American taxpaying public once again. Besides, our fishers
can still work at piercing as long as they don't think while employed by

According to the Western States College Accrediting Association it is a
prerequisite at all Western States Universities that their students do not
think in any way think at all. They consider thinking to be a form of
"downloading of ideas" and do not want to become involved in litigation with
California's Governor Terminator. "It is better to have a blank slate at UCLA
than a working mind; we can deal with blanks, we can't deal with independent
thought." says the Admissions Office of the University of California at Los
Angeles which now offers a degree in Acting with a specialization in Acting
like you're a programmer. The R.I.A.A. and its non-thinkers have approved of
this policy. "Better to have a dumb kid than a smart Author." according to
Hilary Rosen of the R.I.A.A.

For those of you who may think this article is long and windy, I have to say,
just think how long and windy Microsoft is. I think, therefore I am, therefore
I cannot work for Microsoft.

©1994-2004 Terry James

Hope you like it, and I really hope they all sue me; the counter claims for infringing my Copyrights will make me rich, and put them out of a job.

2004-08-19 02:20:14
Off the mark
what's even more off the mark is blaming Microsoft for the failure of 3rd parties to follow published APIs and not go hacking into the Windows internals to hook into unpublished calls which are subject to change without notice.

Of course 2 groups of people will blame Microsoft anyway
1) the clueless
2) the mindless who follow the anti-Microsoft party line because they think it is "kewl" and gives them a sense of belonging to some great rebellion (which is led by the above mentioned clueless, goes to show...).

2004-08-19 04:40:05
published API's
The only way to make any serious windows application work has always been through the unofficial quick and dirty hacks.

There are many software companies that make a business of filling the holes in the documentation and API's that MS endorse.

Then you have all the microsoft experts/specialists with their tips and tricks and hacks and MSDN.

You can't blame 3rd parties when Microsoft moves the goalposts, especially when they were unclear in the first place.

Also what would have been wrong with releasing 2 service packs? If somebody is prepared to do the installation once every 18 months they are probably prepared to do it once a year. The others won't install service packs or fixes regardless of the fanfare or infrequency.

I really don't relish downloading 85MB of unspecified and undocumented changes to my wifes operating system, especially after all the unspecified and undocumented changes already made by every piece of software that we have to install for the camera, scanner, virus-checker, etc to work.

Also why can't I get security fixes and upgrades for old Internet Explorer on windows 98 or 2000, despite all the lies in court, everybody knows that IE isn't really integrated into the operating system so there is no excuse not to treat it as a seperate product and support it properly. If you were cynical, you would think that once they leveraged their monopoly illegally they didn't care about the browser anymore.