Operating Systems

Retail App Flap Stalls XP Service Pack

Instead of releasing the third service pack to its Windows XP operating system on Tuesday, Microsoft said it will delay the launch due to the discovery of certain compatibility problems.

Microsoft attributed the delay to a compatibility issue between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (MD RMS) and XP’s Service Pack 3 (SP3) as well as Vista Service Pack 1. The company said it intends to install filters to prevent Windows Update from offering XP SP3 to RMS users, then release SP3 to the Web.

Service Pack Gremlins

MD RMS is a retail chain management solution for small and midsize customers.

“It’s a retail point of sale application. It does not come with XP or Vista and would only affect retail businesses that run this particular software application,” explained Gary Chen, a Yankee Group analyst.

Although the software runs on a relatively small number of systems, Microsoft pulled the new service pack “in order to make sure customers have the best possible experience,” said Chris Keroack, release manager for Windows serviceability, in a post on the TechNet forum Tuesday.

In addition to filtering out Microsoft Dynamics RMS users, the company is also working on a fix, according to Keroack. That will be made “available once that process is complete.” With the fix, MD RMS customers should be able to run both service packs for XP and Vista.

However, until that time, Microsoft suggests that MD RMS users refrain from installing either service pack. Those who already have XP SP3 and Vista SP1 running on systems with MD RMS should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services for additional information, Keroack added.

Catch It Before It Goes Out

To the casual observer it may appear that the delay of XP SP3 is another hash mark in the con column for Microsoft. that is not necessarily the case, Although Microsoft has faced problems with the releases of its service packs in the recent past, Yankee Group’s Chen downplayed the significance of SP3’s delay.

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal,” he told TechNewsWorld. “People are pretty happy with XP in its current state, there isn’t a huge clamoring for SP3. A small delay isn’t going to change much,” he pointed out.

“What they are doing with SP3 is the right move. Kill the problems before they get released. So in that sense it will help their reputation. With Vista SP1, the problems came after the release, which does negatively affect their reputation,” Chen added.

The glitch will also affect Vista SP1 users running MD RMS, but once Microsoft releases the filter on Windows Update, the problem should be solved there as well, he noted.

Chen acknowledged that Microsoft’s service pack-related issues appear to add validity to the case often made in Apple’s PC v. Mac commercials — that Windows is a bug-plagued system full of annoying problems — but he added that no software of this size makes it onto store shelves glitch-free.

“In some ways, yes [it does support the commercials], but it’s somewhat exaggerated. Apple has its own glitches as well, they just aren’t vilified as much in the press. With the complexity of software today, be it Windows, Mac or Linux, you’re going to have patches and some glitches here and there. No one is immune,” he said.

Looking ahead, Chen called for more of the same preemptive actions if Microsoft wants to correct the impression that its software is riddled with problems.

“Keep being proactive like with SP3,” he advised. “If there is a problem, take care of it right away even if it means a small delay.”

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