Hi, Im SP2 and Im Moving In

Opinion: Like it or not, ready or not, SP2 is landing on customers' machines. And the results will (mostly) not be pretty. Brace yourself for a lot of phone calls and a lot of incompatibilities. (The Channel Insider)

Today, April 12, is the day. Like it or lump it, Microsoft is pushing Service Pack 2 to your XP machines even as youre reading this.

If your customers have Automatic Update turned on, ready or not, here it comes.

Now for many of you, this is going to be just another day. Youll probably be more concerned with Microsofts other patches which are scheduled to come out today.

But, then again, there are going to be some of you—OK, a lot of you—who are going to be having fits today as your customers call in to report application after application breaking down.

By the way, Microsoft, come on! A major patch Tuesday and making SP2 downloads mandatory on the same day? Are you really sure your servers are up to this? And what makes you think IT staffers will be up to the challenge?

You see, AssetMetrix, a service provider that also analyzes IT infrastructure, recently found that about 38 percent of business PCs are now running XP, and of those only 24 percent were running SP2.

Let me do the math for you: about 27 percent of your customers PCs may be acting goofy on Tuesday.

Oh boy.

So, what can you do when your phone starts ringing?

First, Dont Panic!

Most of the problems youll be seeing will not be real incompatibility problems. Theyll be problems with applications running headlong into XP SP2s Windows Firewall.

The short-term fix is just to turn the firewall off. That defeats its purpose, of course, but at least the applications will be running again. You can spend Tuesday evening reactivating the firewall so it can do its job while letting the appropriate programs do theirs.

For a full description on how to go about doing that, see this Microsoft Knowledgebase article.

At the bottom of that same article, youll also find a list of known applications that have issues with SP2. For many of them, like Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 8.0, the fix is simply a matter of opening up the right network ports.

Dont think, by the way, that just because you run nothing but Microsoft software youre safe. Microsoft programs, like SQL 2000a and Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, can break under SP2 if the firewall settings arent right.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts SP2 deployment.

I really hope that you dont have spyware on your systems. Bad, bad things can happen when spyware thats already resident tangles with SP2. If your systems are having real fits after SP2 lands, run several recently updated anti-spyware programs—no single one catches all of them—to try to clean them out. Then reboot.

Now, if one of your homegrown applications, especially one that relies on Internet Explorer, starts breaking...Well, let me just give it to you straight. Unless its a firewall problem, you may be hosed.

It took months and several attempts for one company I know of to finally track down and eradicate an application-killing bug that kept wrecking its content management system.

There are programs that can help your developers find these bugs. Ive heard strong recommendations for Identify Softwares software-execution logging programs for this kind of job. But, come on, if you have to go that far, youre well beyond a quick fix and into a serious development effort.

So what can you do if your customers are stuck with a non-working vital application? Well, youre going to need to roll back the operating system to XP SP1.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead the full story on The Channel Insider: Hi, Im SP2 and Im Moving In