Windows XP Service Pack 2 held up ? again

Microsoft Corp. yesterday delayed yet again its oft-delayed Windows XP Service Pack 2, this time postponing the patch's distribution through the company's Automatic Update service.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant sent an e-mail to its enterprise customers notifying them of the delay, which is intended to give organizations more time to prepare for the download. Microsoft said it would make SP2 available on Automatic Update Aug. 25.

SP2 fixes various bugs and includes several security updates to the Windows XP operating system. Among the major enhancements is a security center designed to improve firewall protection and to better alert users to vulnerabilities in their systems.

In its e-mail, Microsoft said it made its decision after receiving feedback from IT groups saying they hadn't had time to implement a tool for temporarily blocking the automatic download of SP2.

Microsoft has documented roughly 50 software applications that may conflict with SP2, including the corporate version of Symantec AntiVirus, Veritas Backup Exec and several of Microsoft's own management tools. As a result, the company published a tool that would allow IT shops to hold off on upgrading through Automatic Update until they had time to test their current software on SP2.

The latest delay affects enterprises running Windows XP Professional and using Automatic Update to manage systems. Organizations using Microsoft's Software Update Services patch management service can now download SP2. The update will be available for XP Home users starting Aug. 18.

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