Microsoft details conflicts in new XP update

It also delayed the automatic delivery of Service Pack 2

Microsoft Corp. has published a list of nearly 50 applications and games that may not work correctly after installing Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP.

The list, published in a knowledge base article on Microsoft's Web site, includes developer and backup tools, antivirus software and a file transfer protocol client. The applications may not work correctly after installing SP2 because the update installs and enables a new program called Windows Firewall.

"After you install Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), some programs may seem not to work. By default, Windows Firewall is enabled and blocks unsolicited connections to your computer," Microsoft said in the recently published knowledge base article, available online. The firewall in Windows previously wasn't enabled by default.

Applications on the list include several Microsoft products, as well Ghost Server Corporate Edition 7.5 and AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0 from Symantec Corp., ColdFusion MX Server Edition 6 from Macromedia Inc. and several eTrust products from Computer Associates International Inc.

Users can change Windows Firewall settings to allow the applications to work correctly by allowing traffic for specific applications to pass through. The knowledge base article details how to make the changes.

In the months leading up to the SP2 release, Microsoft warned that the service pack could break applications. The company issued warnings that its CRM product and Baseline Security Analyzer tool need updates to work with SP2. Other Microsoft applications that may not work correctly with SP2 include Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 and Systems Management Server 2003, according to the knowledge base article.

There have been no reports of IT chaos since Microsoft began the staged rollout of SP2 a little over a week ago, but SP2's effects may be delayed as users wait to install the update.

On a related note, Microsoft said it has pushed back automatic distribution of SP2 to give business users more time to instruct their machines to skip the update.

The software maker now also has different schedules for pushing out SP2 to the two editions of Windows XP. Users of the Home Edition should start getting the update on Wednesday, while the Professional Edition won't be updated until Aug. 25, according to an e-mail Microsoft sent to select users over the weekend.

The initial schedule called for Microsoft to begin pushing out SP2 via the Automatic Updates feature in Windows to all editions of Windows XP today. As implied by the edition names, Windows XP Home Edition is meant for home users, while the Professional Edition is aimed at businesses and more demanding users.

Microsoft advises consumers to enable Automatic Updates in Windows XP to patch their systems, but recommends that businesses use patch management tools such as its Systems Management Server (SMS) and Software Update Services (SUS) or third-party products.

Taken off guard by the large number of business customers who rely on Automatic Updates, Microsoft last week made available a mechanism to temporarily block the download of SP2 on Windows XP systems. The updated release schedule is meant to give users more time to put that SP2 block in place.

"Last week, we received feedback from our corporate customers that they would like more time to put this temporary blocking mechanism into place. Based on that feedback, we have altered the delivery schedule of Windows XP SP2," Microsoft told its customers.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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