Microsoft will help users in Smith's position, said Barry Goffe, a group manager in Microsoft's Windows group. The software maker plans to offer simple ways to set a unique registry key on XP desktops that will instruct the systems to skip Service Pack 2, but still download other critical updates through Windows Update and Automatic Update, Goffe said. "We want to give customers some breathing room," he said.
Nevertheless, Microsoft urges all users to install SP2 as soon as they can, Goffe said.
"This is not about fun and games. SP2 is about improving the security of our customers' infrastructure. We have spent a lot of time making sure that this delivers a lot of value to all our customers. We're urging all customers to deploy SP2 as soon as possible," he said.
Business users obviously need to test, but Microsoft can't be blamed if users are now unpleasantly surprised by SP2, said Michael Cherry, a lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft Inc., in Kirkland, Washington.
"Microsoft has been more than forthcoming about the number of changes in this service pack and making it available for testing," Cherry said. "I would say to IT departments that they want to get their testing done quickly because there are significant improvements in this service pack and I am not sure you would want to forego those."
A first beta of Windows XP SP2 was released in December, followed by Release Candidate 1 in March and a second release candidate in June. Hundreds of thousands of developers and IT professionals have already tried out the software. The service pack represents one of Microsoft's most broadly tested products to date, the company has said.