Skip the navigation

Users stall in testing Win XP Service Pack

Say security-focused update adds too much

By Carol Sliwa
June 21, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. last week sent beta testers the latest trial version of its Windows XP Service Pack 2, but so far some of them have balked at testing the updates.
Eight of 12 users with at least partial XP deployments contacted by Computerworld last week said they had yet to begin evaluating the security-focused service pack due this summer -- one that's been highly promoted by Microsoft and that contains a lot more code than previous service packs have delivered.
"We're concerned about testing because we know it's not just patching that they're putting in there," said Bill Lewkowski, CIO at Metropolitan Health Corp. in Grand Rapids, Mich. "It just seems that Microsoft doesn't quite understand how difficult this is to do."
Unlike traditional Windows service packs, SP2 doesn't simply roll up bug fixes that have come out since the prior release. It also includes new security features and enhancements designed to combat the spate of viruses and other threats that have hit the operating system. Other additions include a new Media Player and DirectX components.
"I almost prefer just fixes, because if they start putting in new functionality that developers have to test their code against, it adds a lot of complexity for us," said Randy Truax, a technical services manager at Metropolitan Health.
About 15 months ago, Metropolitan Health migrated 1,300 users to Windows XP and later upgraded to SP1. Such moves are costly and time-consuming, in part because the organization has more than 400 Windows-based applications to test.
"We can't do unplanned, unbudgeted service pack releases that are very similar to putting in a whole new version of an operating system," said Lewkowski. "I'm frustrated with Microsoft."
But Matt Pilla, a senior product manager at Microsoft, said users don't need to view SP2 as a "whole new version" of XP. He said it will be a significant amount of code and a large download, but it builds on the existing operating system. Pilla was unable to provide an estimate of SP2's size.
One company engaged in an enterprisewide upgrade from Windows 2000 to XP is so confident about SP2 that it will soon have 1,100 PCs with Release Candidate 1 and 100 with the new Release Candidate 2. The CIO, who declined to be named due to the confidentiality requirements of Microsoft's early-adopter program, said the update files and executables for RC2 are 280MB, but what his company normally distributes to users via Microsoft's Systems Management Server is much smaller.

"We have been comfortable deploying the SP updates via SMS automated updates, which don't require PC



Our Commenting Policies