Friday, 06 August 2004

Rumor was that SP2 was supposed to RTM on Thursday, but that didn't happen. Microsoft Watch reports it's still right around the corner. Others say this month. I hear the same thing. Apparently, there are a few last-minute things that need to be worked out, which is about what you'd expect with a service pack that makes the kinds of changes this one does.

The RC2 version of the service pack was removed from the web on August 2nd, in preparation for release of the final version this month, according to the TechNet web site pages dedicated to XP SP2 information:

Aug 2, 2004: Windows XP SP 2 Release Candidate 2 (RC2) Removed from the Web

This signifies the end of the pre-release distribution program in anticipation of the final release of SP2. Windows XP SP2 remains on schedule for release this month.

The process of implementing SP2 in the real world is more complicated and sensitive than previous Windows service packs, due to the security changes in areas like firewall, DCOM, Java Virtual Machine, Active-X and other aspects of the new code. Testing in individual environments is critical except in the most plain-vanilla situations.

End users in managed environments will need to check with their IT departments before they download the service pack, and IT pros will certainly need to evaluate the service packs in their environments closely for application and network issues, so they can be remediated prior to roll-out. Group Policy attributes new with SP2 can assist administrators of Active Directory networks in deploying, configuring and enforcing consistency in the service pack roll-out, as well.

Developers who rely on SP2 platform security and certain other areas of functionality will need to be thinking ahead, as well. Even Microsoft's recently-released CRM v1.2 functionality breaks when XP SP2 is applied, so they'll need to supply a patch for that product. We can expect this to be a common - but ultimately necessary - occurrence.

Web site designers will certainly need to make sure their implementation of applets using the JavaVM, Active-X controls or embedded content, and pop-ups are reviewed and changes made where necessary.

Microsoft has made a number of documents available recently regarding the service pack and how different people need to plan for its arrival and use.

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