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By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-11-11 Print this article Print

Of course, its easy for me to sit here and tell you to put in development work, but if the alternative is for you to continue to run Windows XP SP1, then youre going to have to think seriously about it. SP1 is not an acceptable alternative anymore.

Weve already seen many security problems pop up in Windows XP SP1 (and Windows 2000 and other earlier versions of Windows) that do not exist in SP2. This is because Microsoft actually thought seriously about security in writing SP2 to the point that they were willing to break applications that used undesirable techniques, quite a departure for Microsoft, which has in the past been far too tolerant of customers doing stupid stuff.

This last week we got our best example yet of SP1s danger. A worm that infects you just by your viewing a Web page. SP2 hasnt been perfect certainly, but life with Windows has been a whole lot less scary for SP2 users since it came out.

This isnt going to be the end of it either. There are going to be more of these SP1-only bugs, and IT managers will have to deal with the consequences of them. I think its an easy case to make that they should instead deal proactively with the application compatibility problems in SP2.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog. SP2 is the best real-life example of how testing is a critical function of IT these days. If youre concerned you will have application problems in SP2, test and find out. Ask for volunteers to be guinea pigs and run it, and have SP1 systems available for them as backups. Fix the problems you find. But get to it already. Youre late and SP1 isnt getting any better.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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