To SP2 or Not SP2?

by Preston Gralla

The interminable delay is finally over – SP2 has finally arrived. It's being first rolled out as a network install, and then it'll be gradually rolled out to the rest of the world as well, via Automatic Updates. Eventually, it'll be available as a standalone download.

But just because the update is available, should you install it? I've been beta testing the software for months now, and here's my recommendation - wait and do it in a month.

The update itself is a worthy one. There's a very nice popup blocker, a more useful front-end to wireless networking, better downloading security, and a lot of extra security under the hood.

The much-ballyhooed update of the Windows Firewall isn't particularly worthwhile. It's really just a prettier face on a still not-particularly useful firewall. Almost any other personal firewall, like ZoneAlarm, is far superior. It's now turned on by default, though, which is good for individual users, but could be problematic for IT folks.

All in all, it's certainly worth the download. So why wait? It's this simple: Microsoft rarely gets anything right out of the gate. Expect installation woes and bug fixes. For example, even Microsoft's own CRM package is broken by SP2. So how do you think it'll get along with other applications?

So wait a month and let others be the guinea pigs. By that time, most of the problems should be fixed. It should be smooth sailing from there - or at least as smooth as Windows ever gets.

Have you used SP2 or do you plan to? Why or why not? Let me know.


2004-08-11 03:01:22
heard it before
When SP1 was released there was much shouting on forums that people should not install it because it caused a (minute, less than 1%) performance decrease on their machines when playing some performance hogging games.

Those same individuals came back screaming about all the exploits (trojans, backdoors, etc.) they were getting infected with for months afterwards, all exploits that had been prevented by SP1.

I'm seeing pretty much the same thing happening now, don't people ever learn?

Sure Microsoft (or any other software company/group/developer) doesn't catch every single bug in a 200MB+ piece of software, especially if that problem occurs only on systems with very particular combinations of hardware and software installed (there's probably as many differently configured machines running XP as there are machines running XP in total, it's impossible to test all possible combinations).
But should that mean you should wait? Or does it mean you should be cautious and provide a rollback point (after all, that's what XP provides...).

I think the benefits far exceed the risks...

2004-08-12 01:06:34
Exceeding the risks..
When you talk about "exceeding the risks" it implies that you have done a risc-analysis. When you have a "bet the farm" application on windows, that is your risk; that application not running.

The advice of waiting a month is an easy option but when action is depending on risc-analysis, you have to do the work or otherwise you may find yourself looking for the proverbial peddle.