awaiteddreaded Service Pack 2 for Windows XP has reached Release Candidate 2 stage. This means that it won’t be long.
Woody’s Windows Watch summed it up like this:
Service packs often introduce almost as many new wrinkles (to put it kindly) as fixes.
Service Pack 2, more than any of its predecessors, is a seriously risky patch job. That’s because Microsoft’s almost exclusive focus in SP2 is security. Security first. Ahead of backwards compatibility.
It means I can almost guarantee you that some of your existing applications are going to break when you install the service pack. Some may break just a little and will be easily fixed; others will break hard. Even some of your hardware may not work correctly once you install SP2..
The delays we’ve seen so far are partly to give Microsoft time to respond to feedback by beta testers, and partly to ensure that third-party software makers test SP2 thoroughly and ensure it works with their software.
Those delays are good for you and me, as the extra testing and tweaking will hopefully minimize problems when SP2 hits the real world. Don’t think it’s going to eliminate the problems — it won’t — but Microsoft is doing the right thing by taking its time over releasing SP2.
Despite the difficulties, upgrading to SP2 is a must. Unless you know one of your critical apps is at risk, you shouldn’t let that deter you. With threats of all kinds — viruses, phishing scams, browser hijacking, operating system exploits, data theft, and so on — increasingly common, your will most assuredly want this service pack. And other, non-security features, such as the enhanced wireless networking support, increase SP2’s desirability. Chances are, with a little tweaking you can get all existing programs working again, and you can always turn the Windows Firewall off and revert to your existing, well-tested firewall instead.
The question isn’t if to switch to SP2 but when. The prudent course is to wait a few weeks after the final public release of SP2 – let other people and companies be the guinea pigs. Give other software makers a chance to update their products to full SP2 compatibility and install those updates before you install SP2.
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