This link to the first page of an eight-page Microsoft document for developers about Changes to Functionality in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 indicates:
“This document specifically focuses on the changes between earlier versions of Windows XP and Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and reflects the current thinking of Microsoft about Service Pack 2 and its implications for developers. Examples and details are provided for several of the technologies that are experiencing the biggest changes: such as remote procedure calls (RPC), DCOM, Windows Firewall (previously called Internet Connection Firewall or ICF), and data execution prevention.”
Though you may not be the type who likes to read documentation, and least of all documentation intended for developers of software programs, one of the things that commends this series of reports is that it follows the same format when discussing each of the changes that SP2 makes, and it does so in depth. Specifically, here are the questions it addresses about each change:
You’ll note that one of these questions, What works differently or stops working?, is something that we end-users will be very interested in. So if your education taught you to scan documents selectively looking for specific material, you’ll be able to scan this one to get an idea of what may be “broken” by this Service Pack. (I suppose that in the interest of not adding to the hysteria I should point out that “broken” in this sense only means that the operating system, Windows XP, will respond differently to the code in which affected programs are written — not that your computer will be broken in any way.) Remember that this document is addressed to developers of software programs, so it is telling them “here’s what going to change, what that change will affect, and how you can re-write your code so that your program will continue to work after the Service Pack 2 has been applied.”
For end users like you and I, these explanations will help us be armed with a bit of information that can reduce the anxiety we feel about the “problems” that may be caused by the application of the Service Pack. Just like looking under the bed helped to prove to us there weren’t monsters there when we were children, so knowing what is coming can help lessen our fears about applying the Service Pack.
I’m much relieved after having read these 8 pages this afternoon. I think references to “chaos” are exaggerations of the actual impact on those of us who are home users. If there is “chaos” it is more likely to occur within business networks that are running Windows XP as their primary operating system, and any chaos seems likely to be of the type that occurs when people panic so that their frightened actions cause more problems than the nature of the problem warrants. True, some home users who haven’t bothered to learn about what is being changed by SP2 may face questions they don’t know how to answer, but the choices they make in answering those questions aren’t likely to be irreversible. They may mean you have to call a computer-savvy friend or a help desk to help you sort them out, but they can be fixed in my opinion.
Of course, “Time will tell. It is the true test of everything!”