When the Study-Funding Tables Are Turned

Opinion: Microsoft gets a taste of its own FUD medicine with an SP2 study commissioned by an independent software vendor.

Microsoft partner SupportSoft sure has a funny way of showing its support for Microsofts Windows XP SP2 (Service Pack 2).

Redwood City, Calif.-based SupportSoft sells software that automates the SP2 migration process. Earlier this year, SupportSoft commissioned and paid for an SP2 study, which was performed by Stamford, Conn.-based market researcher InsightExpress. The results cast SP2 in anything but a good light.

The InsightExpress study—the first findings from which were published earlier this year—found SP2 to be the most difficult Windows upgrade ever. The study quoted IT managers claiming their "blood pressure rises just thinking about it [SP2]."

On Wednesday, SupportSoft is slated to release yet more conclusions from the InsightExpress SP2 study. In this go-around, SupportSoft will highlight the finding that 50 percent of the 100-plus IT managers surveyed expect SP2 to "have a negative impact on business continuity at their company."

Interestingly, despite these concerns, 79 percent of the IT managers surveyed by InsightExpress still plan to deploy SP2 within the next six months. And 49 percent of those surveyed expected that the biggest SP2 benefit they would accrue would be better protection against viruses and worms.

Microsoft should hardly be surprised by the InsightExpress findings. The SP2 rollout has not been a smooth one. Application compatibility problems continue to dog many IT shops interested in deploying the upgrade.

Some users have reported that SP2 has resulted in sluggish system performance. Others have decided to stop Microsoft from automatically updating their systems with SP2 by using a blocking tool supplied by the Redmond software maker.

Our take: Microsoft cant really call foul on this one. As in the case with SupportSoft, Microsoft has found a way to spin the findings of "independent" researchers work to further its own message.

Microsoft officials have stated repeatedly that the company has not only the right but the duty to commission market-research studies as part of its "Get the Facts" anti-Linux campaign.

"Our strategy was the right strategy," Martin Taylor, Microsofts point man on Linux, told Microsoft Watch a couple months ago when asked if he had any regrets about Microsofts decision to fund many of the Get the Facts studies.


To read the full story on Microsoft Watch,

click here.