Evaluating Windows XP Service Pack 2 RC2

Okay, I know keeping up with Service Pack 2 (a.k.a. SP2) can be confusing enough without having to also deal with various iterations of this revision to Windows XP especially when references are made to acronyms like “RC2” but all RC2 means is “release candidate 2.” It is the second version, i.e. “release candidate,” of Service Pack 2, and Microsoft is distinguishing between this version and the earlier one, presumably RC1 (though I don’t think it was ever called that until it became necessary to have a second version), because the earlier version wasn’t ready for prime time and just couldn’t be released in its original form. It is one thing to release a modification to a product like Windows XP; it is another thing entirely to not get it right with the modification and have to modify it later. And regrettably, Microsoft has some history of having done that. It’s better for us to wait until the beta testers have tried it out and given their blessing to the modifications before it is let loose on those of us who aren’t IT managers or system administrators.

In an informative five-page article in Information Week, aimed at those IT managers and system administrators, Scott Finnie writes: “Windows XP Service Pack 2 is jammed-packed with both invisible and visible improvements to Windows XP.” In the interest of being informed about what changes are coming in Service Pack 2 in September, I commend the article to you in its entirety, but if you are a bottom line kind of person, here is what Mr. Finnie concludes:

The fact of the matter is this: No matter how annoying or substantively lacking in any real advantage other than increased security, there should be no debate in business or home circles about whether this one should be installed. Just do it. We have enough computer security problems without people getting stubborn about whether this upgrade takes away some of their computer liberties. It really doesn’t. There are some mostly minor adjustments required. And, for some of us, those changes may be nearly transparent. Corporate IT managers and users may have a bit more to wade through at first. But all in all, this shouldn’t be heavy lifting. We’re all in this security mess together, and this service pack strikes a blow for the good guys. It should be a no-brainer.

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