Microsoft delays automatic XP SP2 delivery to businesses

Responding to customer complaints, Microsoft on Monday said it would delay the automatic rollout of Windows XP Service Pack 2 to most corporate users until the end of the month.

The company sent a memo to its corporate customers saying the delay was in response to feedback from those customers who said they need more time to install a registry key on desktops that will block the automatic delivery of XP SP2. Users want to block the automatic installation of the service pack so they can have adequate time to test their applications against security changes in XP SP2.

“We made this decision on Friday based on feedback from corporate customers," says Barry Goffe, group product manager for Windows product marketing. "They asked for more time to put into place the temporary blocking mechanism."

But Goffe said, "we also do not want to slow down deployments via Automatic Updates, so this was the best compromise that we could find."

Last week, Microsoft released a set of templates and scripts for users of Automatic Updates, an operating system feature for automatically installing new patches and updates, that would block XP SP2 but required configuration changes to the desktop OS.

Microsoft Monday was scheduled to begin automatically pushing the service pack to corporations and others who were using the Automatic Updates feature on their desktops.

Microsoft Australia Windows product manager Danny Beck said Australian corporate customers with the pre release versions of SP2 will, if they have had their Auto Updates turned on, have had SP2 “trickle down to their machines” since August 11. He said these corporations will have already been testing the release candidates for several months.

The rest of the Australian corporate users, those not on the Microsoft testing program, but using Windows XP Professional, and having the Automatic Updates feature turned on, will begin receiving the update from next Thursday, August 26.

Finally, XP Home users, with Automatic Updates turned on will get the updates earlier, on Thursday, August 19, Beck said.

Corporate users were caught off guard when Microsoft recently decided to deliver XP SP2 via Automatic Updates after saying as late as December that it would not use Automatic Updates to distribute service packs. The change in policy had the potential of robbing companies of time to test the service pack against their applications given warnings that XP SP2 could break some of those applications.

Microsoft, on the other hand, underestimated the number of corporate users who rely on Automatic Updates to keep desktops adequately patched.

Last week, those users inundated Microsoft with complaints about the automatic upgrades decision. Microsoft responded by creating the registry key to block XP SP2 upgrades.

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