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

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?

When it’s available in Automatic Update
When we get it on CD
We’re going to wait to see the experiences of other companies

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