Business users have been slow to make the upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2, according to AssetMetrix Research Labs, a vendor that helps companies analyze their computing infrastructures. But analysts said the survey may not tell the entire story.
Of the 251 surveyed North American corporations, consisting of over 136,000 PCs, a mere 24 percent have implemented SP2. The news comes only days before the deadline for holding back on SP2 installation expires on April 12.
“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. “Based on our research, a substantial number of companies have yet to decide whether to accept or embargo Windows XP SP2.”
Looming Support Issues
To date, AssetMetrix has observed that 40 percent of companies using Windows XP have actively avoided upgrading to SP2, and only 7 percent have actively accepted it. The other 52 percent of the companies showed no direction or policy towards SP2. O’Halloran said that 52 percent may wind up with support issues by allowing multiple editions of Windows XP to exist in their infrastructure.
AssetMetrix reports that companies choosing not to deploy SP2 will be faced with a host of potential 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.
“In general, we at AssetMetrix Research Labs recommend that companies deploy Service Pack 2, and we recommend proper testing and verification before the April 12 deadline,” O’Halloran said.
Savvy Corporations Secure
IDC analyst Al Gillen told TechNewsWorld that while the adoption rate may be a little lower than expected, there is another factor in this equation that should be considered in the security aspect of the SP2 discussion: corporate firewalls.
“XP in corporate environments typically sits behind a firewall,” Gillen said. “So XP security inside a corporate network is probably not as prone to compromise as a system which is handled by an individual user.”
Gillen said most companies that were concerned about security had already found ways to build much of the same functionality that SP2 would provide to the desktop prior the release. The study, then, may not be such a dramatic revelation after all, he said.
“The corporate users are among the most savvy, experienced, and capable of configuring a system in a secure way,” Gillen said. “That probably meant putting some third-party software in the machine, but they have the capability and the motivation to do that.”