Users of Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition are scheduled to begin receiving Service Pack 2 via automatic update starting today. But delivery of the Professional Edition has been delayed at least a week while Microsoft and its users grapple with compatibility problems.
Microsoft has released a long list of programs that are affected, including many of its own products. Even administrators of sophisticated networks are having a hard time making their way through the update, security firm Secunia's CTO Thomas Kristensen told NewsFactor. "People really should be very careful" about this mega-patch, he stressed.
The problems, according to Microsoft, are caused by the Windows XP Firewall, which is set to block certain Internet connections. SP2's firewall settings are configured by default to a high level of security, which prevents certain data from being transmitted to and from the 50 applications which are listed by Microsoft. Among the affected applications that conflict with SP2 are the Microsoft Web server, FTP clients, multimedia streaming software, and new mail notifications in some e-mail programs, writes NewsFactor.
Microsoft said it is revising its timetable to give organisations more time to test SP2. The release, which made its debut as a beta back in March, bundles major security revisions and a new Windows update procedure.
Microsoft is placing great store in SP2's ability to protect users against hackers and worms; but the upgrade is going nowhere near as smoothly as Redmond may have hoped.
Microsoft has released a list of about 50 games and other packages that clash with Windows Firewall, which SP2 turns on by default. More seriously, it has released a list of 210 applications that "behave differently" after users install Win XP SP2. The list of applications with compatibility problems with Win XP SP2 includes games (e.g. Unreal Tournament), security packages (e.g. McAfee VirusScan 7) and even some flavours of Microsoft's own Office applications, reports The Register
The Inquirer explains that most of the fixes and updates are to networking aspects of XP with 138 focused on the base operating system. Nearly a hundred are listed as security fixes. SP2 corrects problems in Internet Explorer, the shell, Outlook Express, multimedia, COM+, IIS, MDAC, Media Centre edition, printing, program compatibility, Remote Desktop, RPC, setup, video, and Windows Management Instrumentation.
Not bad for a bit of software which was marketed as the most secure operating system available when it was first released.