Windows XP Service Pack 2 Network Installation Package released

After several well-publicized delays, Microsoft has released the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Network Installation Package. Should you deploy it?

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is a complex update with many ramifications for IT pros. TechRepublic's Windows XP Service Pack 2 Quick Guide drills down on critical SP2 need-to-know areas, with sections on fundamentals, changes that occur after installation, deployment procedures, problem areas, and removal.

It has been a long time coming, but Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is now available in a network installation package designated for IT professionals and developers. A well-deserved thank you is expressed to TechRepublic member Joseph Moore, who sent along the link in the Discussion Center.

However, this is not the version Microsoft wants you to use for individual PCs—that version will be available at the normal Windows update Web site in the near future.

The network installation package gives network administrators the opportunity to configure the SP2 deployment to match the needs of the organization and the systems involved. The numerous changes included with SP2 will not always be compatible with installed systems and proprietary applications. Careful consideration of what to deploy and how will be essential to success.

Breaking eggs to make omelets

The reason network administrators have been given the opportunity to configure the SP2 installation was summed up by John McCormick in a previous Locksmith article: "It can break things." Microsoft itself has conceded that as many as one application in 10 will experience problems due to the upgrade. Arguably the most obvious problem area will come with a change in the default behavior of the Windows XP firewall, which was previously turned off by default. Now, the default setting for the firewall will be on after SP2 installation.

In a corporate environment, the firewall could cause problems for users trying to connect to network resources. The firewall will also now activate much earlier in the boot cycle, even before the network stack is enabled. On shutdown, it will now remain active until after the stack is disabled.

Avoid headaches

Because the default installation configuration for SP2 is not likely to be the best configuration for any network, it is essential that network administrators and other IT professionals use this network installation package to deploy Windows XP SP2 in their organizations. Relying on the default configuration will only lead to problems.

TechRepublic Member Poll

When (if ever) do you plan on installing Windows XP Service Pack 2?

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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