Microsoft's long-awaited overhaul for Windows XP is now available to home users.
The software updates Windows XP and is intended to make computers less susceptible to viruses, worms and hackers.
It was first promised in 2003 but was only released to manufacturers and businesses earlier this month.
Early reports suggest that the update can cause problems with internet access and may cause some programs, including anti-virus software, to stop working.
Have you installed the Windows update? Have you had any problems? Should Microsoft have released this update sooner?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
The update has worked flawlessly on all eight of our company computers.
Don Book, Pittsburg, KS, USA
I'm impressed with it. As a PC technician I am constantly using Windows XP and I think it tidies up some irritating problems that I used to encounter and adds some good extra security. The firewall does not choke the system as other third party firewalls can do so I was pleased with that.
Reece Gale, Baldock, England
As an XP Pro user that tries to stay on top of latest updates I tried to download SP2, but the Windows Update site now crashes when I visit it! The site used to work fine, but not since they rolled out V.5 for the SP2 release.
Randy Laughlin, Hellertown, PA USA
I'm not touching it with a bargepole. I counted 17 applications on the list that would stop working or work differently under SP2, and seeing as I shelled out for ZoneAlarm about six months ago, my computer's fine without the upgrade.
Dave, Sydney, Australia
When Windows 95 was initially released, the joke was that "Windows 95 equals Mac 87." The reference, of course, was to the fact that Apple had pioneered the user-friendly desktop nearly a decade before Gates' people figured out how to do it on PCs. It's still the same. Windows is an inferior OS but like VHS (a technology inferior to Beta), the marketing is better and the rest is history. Would not be surprised, though, to see massive movement to Linux offshoots in the next few years and a resurgence of Macs.
Sam Davis, Dayton USA
I value my freedom, hence I'm learning LINUX.
I downloaded the full corporate version of SP2. I am running Norton A/v & Firewall. SP2 installed perfectly. No problems at all, even after several days use. I switched off the Windows firewall. Norton is much better.
Terry Iso, Selsey, West Sussex
Don't blame Microsoft for the problem, blame the hackers who spend their time trying to destroy our PCs and steal information for advertising purposes. Something really needs to be done about the constant stream of spyware that everyone seems to be getting. I have been using PCs since the age of 4 (18 years) and have a lot of trouble despite my firewall and software protection. God help anyone who isn't a PC expert...
Dave, Slough, UK
Nothing is perfect and all this keeps us in a job
Once again Bill Gates proves why he is the world's richest man. What would life be like without Windows? We'd all still be living in the dark.
As soon as gaming becomes compatible with Macs, I' pushing my PC out the window of my tenth storey apartment.
Blake Murphy, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Been running SP2 for just over a week now. System has never been more responsive or secure.
Although software bugs are annoying I don't see why people get so upset about these important service packs. No software is bug free, especially an operating system as large and complicated as XP, so as the product evolves it is natural to issue fixes and improvements. If people complained as much about all the changes to cars as they've done with Windows then ABS, airbags, seatbeats etc would never have appeared.
Simon, Manchester, England
I'll install SP2 after a reformat for minimum hassle. Taking this long for what is effectively the next version rather than just an update was the right way to go. Plus some of my apps on the blacklist were patched months ago for other issues and need retesting anyway.
Ken, London England
Installing XP SP2 was a painless experience - full credit to Microsoft for finally making it available. The only issues I found were to do with the firewall blocking almost everything by default - which is just like starting with the 'safety catch' on. Definitely the right thing to do!! This should help the less technically minded user stay protected from malicious internet viruses/worms/malware without requiring (much) technical knowledge - got to be a good thing in my opinion.
Ian, Nottingham, UK
Since I've heard several horror stories about this download, I believe I will put it off and rely on my Norton Anti-virus software, at least for a while. Plus, who would want to have to deal with Microsoft's sorry customer service dept?
Kenneth , North Carolina, USA
What people seem to be forgetting here is that a large number of people still connect to the internet through a modem and could never consider downloading the full 266MB install file from Microsoft. A file that size would take somewhere between 15 and 20 hours to download. Not to mention the fact that most modems are cut off every two hours by the ISP to stop that kind of downloading!
James, High Wycombe
I have been using Windows Professional XP SP2 now for over two weeks, and I have encountered no problems what so ever, and most of my applications are internet based. I think any criticism against Microsoft's SP2 update is unjust. Microsoft has looked at the problems with their Operating system, and corrected them adding new brilliant features in the presses. We are the first to pounce at Microsoft when something goes wrong with their OS, but how many of us complement them when they correct the problems and add new fantastic features? Good on you Microsoft.
Chris Overall, Norwich, UK
If you're using an illegal version of XP, you're going to have problems. For the rest of us, the SP2 update is a must install - there is much more being fixed than just adding a firewall and switching it on by default. The firewall actually starts much sooner in the boot process which is really important as some viruses started to work before most firewalls kick in. There are loads more things, so take a look at the Microsoft site for more details. Look on the bright side, if it were your car, would your garage fix it for free?
Considering the huge amount of changes that Microsoft have made to XP "under the bonnet" in service pack 2, I am stunned it's working as well as it does. I have installed it so far on 5 systems, all of which upgraded without a hitch. I have found 1 incompatible program, of which there is a update from the vendor. The additional security measured are well overdue, and very welcome, and all the systems I have installed the update on seem to run much smoother than before.
Mark Gillespie, Weymouth, UK
The patch says it will interfere with my firewall, popup blocker, alternate browser - in fact, all the things I had to install myself to ensure that my system was secure. Not only have Microsoft taken years to get around to the problem of security, they then ignore the fact that every sensible user has looked to their own security! Microsoft have hundreds of people working on this product - surely at least one of them is capable enough to have spotted the potential problems. So why haven't they fixed them before sending the patch out?
Ian, Cambridge, UK
I downloaded SP2 today. I installed it and so far I have had no problems with it at all. All the programs that are supposed to be messed up by it all work fine. MS released it at the right time I think because with all this talk about hackers and the recent fluctuation in viruses like MYDoom something had to be done before it gets out of hand.
Carl, Swindon, UK
Microsoft seem very shy to mention the fact that Service Packs are not just for security issues, but also for bugs in the OS itself. However, the fact that they are still discovering security holes after three years says something about how it was written. Windows is inherently an insecure OS and all Microsoft do is paste over the holes. I recommend people switch to Linux - fundamentally it's much more secure (and free too).
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany
As Windows XP has an estimated 80 million lines of code, there are clearly bound to be problems. People who think using Linux will save them are kidding themselves, there are countless vulnerabilities found in it every day and countless that the discoverer keeps to themselves.
I see a lot of negatives posted, but this service pack is aimed at businesses that have the resources to test and if anything goes wrong, fix them. Home users should wait for the recommended home user patch. Also, I have had no problems installing on 16 different machines, all networked and running crucial applications. You have to ask yourself is the patch messing up your PC or is the user unaware of how to install the patch properly?
Paul Sands, Glasgow
This update will finally open people's eyes to the threat posed by the internet to privacy. Windows users have got to wake up and start taking responsibility for their own data security, and not depending on Microsoft. We all need a firewall, now with SP2 we've got one. Good call, Microsoft.
Alex Toft, Leeds, West Yorkshire
I tried installing the update onto an XP Home machine. It started okay, but then told me it could not continue and the computer shut down. I was unable to get it to restart properly normally via safe mode. Eventually, I had to do a complete format and reinstall of XP, but now computer thinks there are two copies of XP on machine (which there aren't). I'm going Mac the next time.
Hilton, Bath UK
Hilton, Bath UK; This isn't a tech board, but what you described can't happen. The way they designed XP it is easy to think you have formatted your hard drive without actually doing it. Once you format your hard drive, nothing from the previous instillation will be there, and nothing (besides damage to your hardware) can prevent complete formatting.
Brent, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Microsoft can't win! They produce an open system that people can use, but unfortunately hackers can hack, so they then produce a patch that closes everything down, and people complain that their software no longer works. Most of the issues are caused by the firewall being turned on. Well, you should already have a firewall on you PC, and if you don't, you deserve to have problems....... Joe
Joe Adams, Bromley, UK
Hooray, I say... At last Microsoft is taking a serious stance on PC security. Preventing indiscriminate network access between a home PC and the Internet is a good step on the road to secure computing. Home users will now need to explicitly accept that opening a network port to the internet on their PC is the equivalent of leaving a window (no pun intended) open when you leave the house, someone might break in. This update is a vast improvement on the previous situation where our poor Microsoft home owner found themselves without doors, windows and a wall or two missing here and there.
I'm an IT professional and the firm I work for has had this now since the first release of SP2 last week. I have had no problems at all on any of the 4 PC's that the service pack has gone onto. All of which are different. The only issue I had was getting used to the new configuration details for firewalls and popup blockers but that was easily done and configured to my own preferences. Any users having problems with 3rd party applications should refer back to the company that makes it for information on compatibility. Although, for the record, the most common cause of error is user error!
I installed SP2 RC2 about 8 weeks ago and it trashed my laptop forcing me to rebuild it!. After I rebuilt it I again installed SP2 RC2 and then my applications on top and it all worked fine. Last week my Laptop downloaded the released version of SP2 and I suffered only one major problem with outlook, but I resolved this and now it's all working fine. I think all users should be very careful if they are considering installing this update, it will cause you more problems than it will resolve!
Tim Cosson, Hastings - UK
I think I'll give it at least 6 months for things to settle down, and all the issues to be ironed out before I apply the service pack. I only wish I could get some of the minor security fixes separately; without downloading 80MB worth of unnecessary bloat and incompatibilities!
Paul, Northumberland, UK
Lack of competition brings incompetence, and Microsoft is getting away with way too much. On the other hand standardisation is great for computing. It is about time standards for operating systems were defined outside the private sector and companies had to adhere to them. Only that will create a level playing field without slowing down developments. Computing is too important socially and business-wise to simply leave things in the hands of a corporation. Until then, Linux.
This has always been the Microsoft key to success - market new products early and fast, before they have been fully tested. That way you get the jump on your more thorough competitors and can add patches later. And to be fair, ordinary consumers haven't seemed that bothered. As long as the problems aren't fundamental and the patches come along within a reasonable time, then no harm done. What happens though when something more fundamental is flawed? The Microsoft method breaks down and everyone suffers. The vital question for Microsoft is whether we are all so used to Windows that we'll take it for the sake of familiarity.
Katherine, London, UK
This is a great move on the part of Microsoft, even if it is long overdue. Turning on the Windows XP firewall by default will do much to slow the spread of malicious worms; those most in need of protection are frequently those least likely to know how to turn the firewall on for themselves. There will be some initial teething problems with certain programs, but the end result will be worth it.
Oliver, Cambridge, UK
Microsoft should NOT have released XP until it had a sound and solid product. Their constant stream of operating systems and updates to them clearly indicate that they are releasing products to the public too early. Soon we will be invited to buy (no less) another new operating system, which will be sold as being so much more reliable. Someone is being taken for a ride here!
John F., Bristol, U.K.
A number of small applications stop working, but nothing a bit of a sort out could not fix. The benefits that SP2 have provided, far outweigh its short comings...
All the software I produced worked under the new SP. However, internal networking is a nightmare with none of the computers talking with the built in Firewall. Disabling and installing Zone Alarm fixed the problem. All my mission critical data and apps are under SUSE Linux so Windows problems are merely annoying rather than fatal.
Jonathan Selby, Aucklans New Zealand
Oh good, although I don't use windows, my inbox constantly fills with spam from unpatched windows machines. Hopefully this will fix that (ha!)
Paul Weaver, London, UK
We run a computer repair workshop and have been applying the new Service Pack 2 for the past week. So far no major problems to speak of, however on two occasions, we have been unable to log back onto the system after applying the fix. This problem is easily remedied by renaming a dll, removing the service pack and re-applying.
David Hall, Birmingham, England
I have installed SP2 several times on different machines and apart from two 3rd-party applications, I've had no problems. Updating the operating system will always cause a few issues with applications (especially an update this big) - the 3rd party manufacturers have had plenty of chance to test their apps/drivers and have just been slow to update.
It seems that every time there is a service pack release for any Microsoft Windows product we all get foisted with yet more headaches. Over 200 applications suffer problems with SP2 (according to technology sites) and as of this morning apparently there were two new security vulnerabilities disclosed. It seems Microsoft are incapable of putting out solid, quality software. At this rate it is inevitable people begin to diversify away from Windows to the ever maturing Linux desktop, and also to Apple's compelling OS X platform.
Peter Laurens, Jersey, United Kingdom
This update automatically enables options in Windows, for example after you have installed it the firewall is automatically on. This, you might say, is no problem but it is. It makes retrieving email difficult and the internet connection far slower. Sort it out, Microsoft!
Robert Carwardine, Worcester, Great Britain
Like many users, I have learned to work around the security holes in Windows XP by running my own firewall, spyware detector, and virus protectors and by being cautious, cautious, cautious in my behaviour online. Though I welcome this update I will wait for several months at least before installing it, until at least the second version of the patch to correct the bugs in this upgrade. The first reports appear to show this is the best strategy. In all fairness, considering the amounts of money Microsoft pours into R&D, it's baffling to see them time after time release half-tested products, with barn-door sized security holes. If I was in Bill Gates's shoes, I wouldn't be too happy with my programmers.
Simon, Amsterdam, Netherlands
XP was released years ago, yet Microsoft are still releasing free updates like this. People shouldn't underestimate how important this is when other software vendors start charging for updates, or don't update at all. Windows XP is the most used software product in the world, and with that comes massive demands. So what if it's late? It's here now, and that's what matters.
I run Linux, both at home and for my business. Never had a single virus or spy-ware. On top of that it is free, which saves my (small) company about £2500 a year in licence fees, let alone the cost I save by not having a windows engineer. People who still use windows are simply robbing themselves.
Matt, Plymouth, Devon
Most of the problems have been caused by XP's firewall being turned on automatically after installation, especially if a user is already has a third party firewall installed. The best thing to do is turn off this feature ONLY if you have already got another firewall installed and running. Gamers will notice they will no longer be able to play online until this feature has been disabled.
James Bond, Norwich, Norfolk
Does Bill Gates have a special version of Windows that doesn't keep crashing? Or is he as irritated as the rest of the World?
Rob Watson, Winchester, Hampshire
To Rob: Bill Gates uses a Mac.
James B, Sheffield, UK
No probs here. In fact my system has become much more stable. I like the new security features. I downloaded the whole patch.
Adrian, Bristol, UK