Sunday, May 16, 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Get on top of it now!

Last week I did a presentation for the .NET user group that I run with Dan Green in Sydney. I was surprised by the unhappiness of a lot of the attendees about the SP2, and the overall consensus of those that spoke up was that SP2 wasn't a Good Thing. Maybe those that loved SP2 were being real quiet, but the criticisms of the anti-SP2 crowd are certainly not without merit, so I though it would be worth addressing them. The main criticisms were:


  1. Too much code will be broken.

  2. Calling this upgrade a "Service Pack" is misleading.

  3. No one told me Windows was going to change like this.

  4. Its too big.



My reaction/ response was:

  1. Start testing your apps right now to avoid this. The company where I'm currently consulting isn't the most cutting-edge development house (they still ship some 16-bit apps), but we've gone through SP2 testing there. Is most cases, changing Windows Firewall settings will be sufficient to keep apps working correctly, and as these settings can be pushed out to all the Windows boxes in an enterprise using Group Policy, those who invest is some preparation will be fine. For home users, most firewall related breakages can be corrected by the user responding in the affirmative to the prompt that comes up from the firewall when an app starts or opens a port

  2. This is true to some extent, but many network admins (and particularly those that don't keep up with their profession and don't know about SP2) won't go out and install an "Option Pack" or "Security Upgrade". Calling it SP2 is more likely to get the software out onto more boxes, which is ultimately a good thing

  3. That's why I'm writing this, and that's why every Microsoft conference I've been to over the last six months has covered SP2. I think Microsoft are also considering some type of campaign to improve SP2 awareness, and for developers, keeping up with things like this is your job.

  4. I would expect SP2 to be on every CD that ships on a magazine cover in the free world. 280MB is too big for those on dial-up, but the CD will also be available from most Microsoft regional offices at some nominal postage cost. SP2 uses delta compression technology to make post-SP2 patches smaller, so this issue is addressed going forward.



The slide deck from my presentation is available on-line, and this contains a list of resources for those interested in checking out SP2.

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