Microsoft has recently reminded to the users of its Windows XP operating system that the 240-day grace period for delayed Service Pack 2 (SP2) upgrade comes to the end on April 12.
The message appears on the page, which instructs users how to temporarily disable delivery of SP2 to their computers, and reads: “Time is running out! Please note that the mechanism to temporarily disable delivery of Windows XP SP2 is only available for a period of 240 days (8 months) from August 16, 2004. At the end of this period (after April 12, 2005), Windows XP SP2 will be delivered to all Windows XP and Windows XP Service Pack 1 systems.”
In spite of its innocent name, Windows XP Service Pack 2 is in fact a set of major changes in the core Windows code mainly aimed to improving security. SP2 introduces “No Execute” – a protection mechanism against buffer overflows, a new version of Internet Explorer with a built-in pop-up blocker, a firewall, Windows Security Center, email filtering in Outlook Express and more security-oriented features. In a response to the fears of system administrators that some of these massive changes may create conflicts with existing mission-critical applications, Microsoft allowed to temporarily block delivery of this update via Automatic Updates (AU) or Windows Update (WU).
The grace period had been set to 120 days in August 2004 but was extended short afterwards to 240 days following customers’ feedback. Microsoft is expected to stick to the current schedule, which means that all Windows XP and XP SP1-based systems with AU or WU enabled will soon get the controversial upgrade installed.