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Three quarters of corporate PCs shun SP2

Holding back as 12 April deadline looms

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Website security in corporate America

Only a quarter of corporate PCs running Windows XP have upgraded to SP2 (Service Pack 2), according to a survey out this week. The study by asset management outfit AssetMetrix - published days before the deadline for holding back on SP2 installation expires on 12 April - paints a picture of a lack of preparation for a major change in corporate computing infrastructures.

AssetMetrix surveyed more than 136,000 PCs across 251 North American corporations and found only 24 per cent of Windows XP PCs had been upgraded to SP2. When Microsoft launched its heavily-touted security upgrade in August 2004 it offered firms the opportunity to "hold off" the automatic installation of SP2 while still receiving security patches for eight months. That suspension expires on 12 April, when Microsoft's Automatic Update service will deliver SP2 to firms.

"Microsoft allowed a significant period of time to accommodate companies' demand to test and validate Windows XP SP2 within their IT infrastructure," said Steve O'Halloran, managing director of AssetMetrix Research Labs. "Based on our research, a substantial number of companies have yet to decide whether to accept or embargo Windows XP SP2. To date, we have observed that 40 per cent of companies using Windows XP have actively avoided upgrading to SP2, and only 7 per cent have actively accepted it. The other 52 per cent of the companies showed no direction or policy towards SP2, and may find themselves having support issues by allowing multiple editions of Windows XP to exist in their infrastructure."

Users still reluctant to deploy XP SP2 after then will have to stop using automatic updates after 12 April but that creates a number of possible issues, including possible incompatibilities with future products such as Internet Explorer 7, or a potential support gap when Microsoft support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 is withdrawn in September 2006. ®

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