As widely reported over the past few days, Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP. I commented on this last week, and today I installed the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version that’s available now to beta testers. The RTM version is what will be available via Windows Update from 10 August and on a CD you can request from Microsoft. Other means of getting hold of the update will likely be available; check the Windows XP SP2 website for more info.
The installation of the final-release version went without any hitch. I have been beta testing SP2 for much of this year and can say that it is definitely worth having, greatly improved security being the Number One reason to upgrade.
There’s a good concise review on the Neowin website of installing SP2 – Neowin.net – Where unprofessional journalism looks better – Comments on Windows XP Service Pack 2
On the subject of security, one great feature in SP2 is the new Security Center which gathers together in one place information about your firewall, Windows update options and antivirus protection and where you can make changes as required. I still have one little problem about how SP2 treats antivirus software as reported in the Security Center.
On my test PC, I have Norton Antivirus 2004 installed. As with prior beta versions of SP2, the Security Center says “Norton Antivirus reports that it is installed but its status is unknown.” The only way to stop alerts on this is to disable NAV monitoring. Not good.
A visit to Symantec’s website today produced a lengthy message on SP2 compatibility. They say it’s not fully implemented yet and to check back on their website on 10 August. See the announcement: Symantec Norton product update for Windows® XP Service Pack 2.
In reality, this niggle is minor and will be fixed by Symantec, as they say. So, whatever antivirus software you use, I’d get SP2 now.
Additional comment 10 August:
Commentary from Forrester Research reported in CNET News – For consumers, enabling the software’s Automatic Update feature will schedule an automatic download. Customers can also call Microsoft to get a CD. But for enterprises, mass deployment of SP2 isn’t a practical reality, and companies should treat SP2 as an operating system upgrade and not just a service pack update. During the deployment, companies need to use the same procedures and tools as a full-scale operating system upgrade–including maintaining dual SP1 and SP2 images and using client management systems to deploy the new operating system to the desktop.