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Deploying Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Earlier this month, Microsoft finally released the long-awaited Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP. SP2 presents a number of challenges to system administrators. Several of the security fixes introduced by this service pack, while enhancing system security, have significant side effects. I discussed these side effects in detail in an earlier article (TK: LINK). Here, I'll provide some specific advice to administrators on how to deploy SP2 with minimum system-wide downtime.
Controlling the SP2 Roll-Out

Microsoft has been advertising SP2 availability, and is making the service pack available to end-users through Windows Update. This raises the possibility that you'll find yourself with some users moving to SP2 before you've had a chance to test for compatibility and provide appropriate support mechanisms in your organization. To prevent this, you'll need to temporarily disable Windows Update on computers in your organization. Microsoft has instructions for this on their web site:

It would also be a good idea to advise users (via e-mail memo) that SP2 is being evaluated but is not yet supported by your IT staff"if they choose to install it on home computers it's strictly at the user's own risk. Some users will likely complain about this. Keep a record of them"they're candidates as test users when the time comes for an initial test deployment!

Testing for Compatibility

The next step is to determine the impact of deploying SP2 in your environment. This is easy: Start by installing SP2 on a single test-bed computer (or just a few) in your IT shop. Use a typical end-user setup and the standard SP2 installation. This is available from Microsoft's web site:

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