Mike's XPSP2 links

Disabling Delivery of XP SP2 Time is running out!


UPDATE: 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.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) contains major security improvements designed to provide better protection against hackers, viruses, and worms. Windows XP SP2 also improves the manageability of the security features in Windows XP and provides more and better information to help users make decisions that may potentially affect their security and privacy. Because of these significant improvements, Microsoft views Windows XP SP2 as an essential security update and is therefore distributing it as a “critical update” via Windows Update (WU) and the Automatic Updates (AU) delivery mechanism in Windows. Microsoft strongly urges customers with Windows XP and Windows XP Service Pack 1-based systems to update to Windows XP SP2 as soon as possible.

How to safely upgrade to Windows XP SP2

How to SAFELY upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2

Well, I guess it's time to finally upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2. Here's how to do it safely:

1. Get a copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2 on a CD-ROM.

Trust me on this one, folks: XP SP2 is so large that you don't want to try to download it over even the fastest Internet connection. Besides, when your computer crashes sometime in the future and you have to reinstall Windows, having XP SP2 on CD-ROM will speed your recovery process.

How can you get XP SP2 on CD-ROM? Well, go to the computer section of your nearest big box retailer and ask for a copy. Microsoft shipped massive amounts of free XP SP2 CD-ROMs to Circuit City, Best Buy, and places like that. All you have to do is ask.

If you can't find a copy of XP SP2 in your local tech store or, even worse, if your local tech store tries to sell it to you [something that happened to at least one Best Buy customer in the Chicago area a few weeks ago], hop on over to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/sp2/cdorder/en_us/default.mspx. This page lets you order the XP SP2 CD-ROM directly from Microsoft. Free.

2. Once you have the XP SP2 CD-ROM, scan your computer for viruses

Personal experience shows that unwanted stuff on your computer like viruses or spyware [see step 3] can wreck havoc on ANY software installation, especially a major operating system upgrade. And while you may think your current antivirus software is doing a good job of scanning your computer for and protecting your computer from viruses, over 60% of broadband users aren't running the latest version of their antivirus program. [Source: http://www1.us.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/security?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs]

So, just to be extra safe, before you even THINK about putting that XP SP2 CD-ROM into your CD-ROM drive, let's have Symantec scan your PC for viruses online. Open Internet Explorer and go to http://www.symantec.com/cgi-bin/securitycheck.cgi.

[Unfortunately, Symantec's free online virus checker only works in Internet Explorer.] When the page loads, click on the orange Go button. This opens a pop-up window. Click on the red Start button under Virus Detection to start the virus scan. You'll be asked if you want to install and run three small plug-ins. Click Yes all three times.

The scan will take a while, but it is well worth the wait. If Symantec says your virus status is safe, continue on to step three. But, if Symantec finds a problem, expect to spend a lot of time at http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/index.html downloading the appropriate removal tools.

3. Scan your computer for spyware and other malware

Spyware seems to be the number one cause of problems when upgrading to XP SP2. So, in addition to scanning your computer for viruses, you also need to scan it for spyware. But you need to make sure you are using the latest version of your antispyware program when you do this.

How? Well, in Spybot Search & Destroy, go to Help > About. There you'll see the version number. The latest version of Spybot is 1.3. If you have an older version, head on over to http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html and download the latest version.

If you have AdAware, look in the bottom right corner of the AdAware screen. If you don't see "AdAware SE Personal, Build 1.05," you don't have the latest version and you'll need to download a new copy at http://www.download.com/Ad-Aware-SE-Personal-Edition/3000-8022_4-10045910.html?part=dl-ad-aware&subj=dl&tag=top5

Once you have the latest version of your antispyware program, check for updates and then scan your computer. If you find any spyware, nuke it.

4. Update your software firewall

If you are running a software firewall like ZoneAlarm or Sygate Personal Firewall, you may need to update your software firewall so that it will fully work with Windows XP SP2. This usually involves downloading a simple patch that you can get from your software firewall’s manufacturer's website.

5. Get the latest PC manufacturer updates for your computer

If you have a name-brand computer, check the manufacturer's web site and download any software or driver updates they recommend. For example, Dell recommends that its users update their BIOS before upgrading to XP SP2.

For a list of the XP SP2 upgrade sites for most of the major PC manufacturers, check out http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/oemlinks.mspx

If you can’t find your computer manufacturer’s web site, call the company or store that sold you your computer and ask them if they know of any issues with upgrading your make and model of computer to XP SP2. By waiting to install XP SP2 until today, you’ve given the folks in tech support enough time to figure out what computers upgrade well and what computers have issues.

Sloth pays.

6. Backup any files you cannot live without

If media and blog reports are any indication, you should be able to upgrade to XP SP2 without any major problems. But sometimes things go awry. That's life.

Just to be extra safe, make sure to copy ALL of the important stuff on your computer to a CD-ROM, DVD, thumb drive, external hard drive, or whatever. You can never have too many backups.

In particular, make sure to backup your:

Again, you'll probably not need this backup. But you can never be too safe.

7. Make a system restore point

Yeah, I know. The XP SP2 installer does this for you automatically. Do it by hand just in case.

8. Restart

No, I don't mean go back to step one. I mean restart your computer. It's usually a good idea to flush the decks, so to speak, before you install any major program or operating system upgrade on your computer.

Wait at least five minutes after you restart your computer before you proceed. That just gives all of those icons down in your task bar plenty of time to load and call home for updates.

You might also want to disable your antivirus program, but that's completely up to you. [I accidentally installed XP SP2 without first turning off my antivirus and nothing bad happens

9. Find a local guru

Step nine is probably the hardest step of them all.

If you follow steps one through eight, step nine is probably completely unnecessary. But, sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes, although not often, XP SP2 installations go horribly awry. If that happens, you're going to want to talk to someone who can help you un-kludge your computer.

You are always welcome to send me email asking for assistance, but I have to warn you that I get so much email that it is almost impossible for me to keep up. I wish I was kidding, but it's now November 22nd, 2004, and I am currently working on answering the emails sent to me during the week of October 11th...FIVE weeks ago! If your computer goes kersplat during the XP SP2 installation process, you're probably going to want to speak to someone who can help you fix your computer in minutes not weeks. Hence my recommendation that you find a local guru who can help you if anything goes awry.

Again, if you follow steps one through eight, finding a local guru is probably completely unnecessary. But, as I have said throughout today's post, you can never be too safe.

10. Install XP SP2

You've prepped your system. You found a local guru who can help you if things go wrong. Now it's time to install XP SP2. Pop the CD-ROM into your CD-ROM drive and follow the on-screen prompts.

That's it.

No, really. That's it. Pretty anticlimactic, isn't it?

Once the upgrade is done, you'll be asked to restart your computer.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Windows XP Service Pack 2.

11. Run Windows Update

After you have successfully installed XP SP2, immediately run Windows Update. There have been more than a few critical updates released since your XP SP2 disc was pressed, and you need to download those updates to ensure your computer is fully protected from the internet nasties.

12. Tweak XP SP2

Finally, after you've installed XP SP2 and run Windows Update, point your favorite web browser to http://support.microsoft.com/xpsp2installed. This page contains dozens of handouts and videos covering topics such as configuring Internet Explorer's new pop-up blocker, using the new Windows Security Center, and so on. Plan on spending a little time here getting acquainted with the new security features in XP SP2.

Troubleshooting XP SP2

What if the XP SP2 installation doesn't go so smoothly on your computer? As I hinted at earlier, that's what the local guru is for.

But, if you want to try to fix things yourself, check out http://support.microsoft.com/xpsp2getinstall. This page has links to some of the more popular Microsoft Knowledge Base articles to help you diagnose and fix the most common XP SP2 setup and installation issues. If that doesn't help, try a Google search. Chances are you aren't the first person to have this problem.

And, if push comes to shove, you can always uninstall XP SP2 and roll back your system to that restore point you created back in step seven. You can find the instructions on how to do this at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;875355

I hope this helps!

Thanks to; TOURBUS

==== New Features in Windows XP SP2 ====
by Mike Otey, mikeo@windowsitpro.com, InstantDoc ID 43866

With all the hoopla surrounding the new Windows Firewall, you might think that the firewall is all that's in the long-awaited Windows XP
Service Pack 2 (SP2). You'd be wrong. Although Windows Firewall is undoubtedly the most significant feature, the service pack also
contains many other noteworthy enhancements. In this month's Top 10, I run down the 10 most important new features that SP2 adds to XP.

10. Security hotfixes rollup--One of the least talked about--but most important--points of XP SP2 is that it contains a rollup of the
      previous XP security patches. For users who are spotty about keeping their systems patched, the security hotfixes rollup is reason
      enough to install SP2 right away.

9. Security Center--One of the most prominent new features in XP SP2 is the Security Center. Appearing as a shield icon in the system tray, 
    The Security Center provides a graphical indicator that shows the current state of your system's antivirus protection, firewall, and Automatic
    Updates settings. It also provides links that let you change these settings.

8. Internet Explorer (IE) Add-on Manager--IE's new Add-on Manager lets you easily see all the add-ons that you've installed to enhance the
    functionality of IE and lets you enable or disable any of them. You access the Add-on Manager from IE by choosing Manage Add-ons from 
    theTools menu.

7. Outlook Express image blocking--Like Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, Outlook Express automatically blocks the display of images in message
     preview windows after you install XP SP2. Image blocking prevents rude Web sites from running uninvited code on your system and
    surreptitiously retrieving your personal and system information.

6. Popup blocking for IE--Another nice enhancement in SP2 is the Pop-Up Blocker for IE. After you install SP2, when you visit Web sites that
    attempt to send pop-ups to your system, Pop-Up Blocker suppresses the pop-ups and displays the message "Pop-ups were blocked" in the IE

5. Data execution prevention (DEP)--Designed to put an end to buffer overflow exploits, the XP kernel was recompiled for SP2 using the No
   Execute (NX) flag. The NX flag lets XP mark memory as either executable or nonexecutable, preventing malware such as MSBlaster from
   running in memory that's designated as nonexecutable. Both AMD 64-bit processors and Intel's 64-bit Extended Memory 64 Technology
   (EM64T) processor support the NX attribute.

4. Integrated Bluetooth support--XP SP2 Bluetooth supports multiple devices, including cell phones, printers, keyboards, and mouse devices,
    as well as Palm and Pocket PC devices. You install Bluetooth devices using the Control Panel's new Bluetooth Devices applet. Of course, 
    Your system must have Bluetooth hardware to take advantage of this support.

3. Improved wireless support--The new Wireless Network Connection dialog box is another welcome networking enhancement. This dialog box
    provides a user-friendly view of the available wireless networks and lets you connect to or disconnect from them. To view the dialog box,
    Select the View available wireless networks option on the Network Connection dialog box.

2. Secure wireless configuration--The XP SP2 Wireless Network Setup wizard walks you through the creation of a Wired Equivalent Privacy
    (WEP)­or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)­secured wireless network and can save the configuration to a USB key, which you can then use to
    configure compatible network devices. To start the new wizard, open the Wireless Network Connection dialog box and select the Setup a
    wireless network option.

1. Windows Firewall--Unlike the old Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) found in pre-SP2 XP, Windows Firewall is both useable and essential.
    Some of the important features of Windows Firewall are that it's turned on by default, prevents system access at boot time, and prompts you to
    enable access on a per-program basis. You can learn more about Windows Firewall in "Meet Windows Firewall," May 2004, InstantDoc
    ID 42293."Fine-Tuning Windows Firewall," June 2004, InstantDoc ID 42594, and "Windows Firewall Update," July 2004, InstantDoc ID 42931.

60 Useful Windows XP SP2 Links
You have questions about Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), and Microsoft has at least some answers.
By Scot Finnie

- Pre-Install Must Reading
- Installation Issues
- SP2 Problems/Solutions
- Uninstalling SP2
- Internet Explorer
- Outlook Express
- Windows Firewall
- Networking/Wireless
- Miscellaneous
- Microsoft Knowledge Base Searches

AFFECTED PROGRAMS & after-effects of SP2
Here it comes....the after-effects of SP2.
Some important MS articles the you need to read and check out to see which of your programs and
applications are affected so you can seek out the fixes first before jumping into installing SP2:

Programs that may behave differently in Windows XP Service Pack 2
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 884130

Some programs seem to stop working after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 842242
This lists some of the programs affected by SP2.

You receive a "Data Execution Prevention" error message in Windows XP Service Pack 2
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 875351
This also lists affected softwares.

Hardware and software vendor contact information, A-K

Hardware and software vendor contact information, L-P

Hardware and software vendor contact information, Q-Z

Troubleshooting Windows Firewall settings in Windows XP Service Pack 2
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article - 875357

Windows® XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) Information Center
This page answers the most frequently asked questions about SP2 and your Norton antivirus and firewall products:

Preliminary reports on SP2/ Norton implementation:

When SP2 was installed along with Norton, internet access was disabled. Disabling Norton Firewall allows internet access.
Although Microsoft Firewall is OFF Microsoft Security Center still showed the Norton Firewall.
Norton users, take note.  Symantec XPSP2 FAQ;

NeoWinNet's review

Sophos has published information for customers using its products who are considering upgrading to
Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

Top 10 Reasons to Install Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)

Windows XP SP2 Stuff:  
What is Windows XP SP2? A Q&A

Is it a new version of Windows? No.

What does it cost? It's free to download, but there will probably
be a nominal charge to get the update on a CD. (The download is available now.)

What is SP2? Service Pack 2. The first Service Pack was released about 18 months ago.

What is a Service Pack? It's a collection of previously released bug fixes,
plus some new additions to Windows.

If I've been updating Windows (via the Windows Update service), do I still need SP2? Yes.
In addition to the collective updates, SP2 also includes some new features that improve
Windows security.

Is it a required update? No.

What will I miss if I don't update?
Firstly you'll probably miss a lot of bugs and incompatibilities, things that invariably
happen when you update an operating system. Beyond that you'll miss a few new
features that impact the security of Windows.

What should I do? Wait. Give the update a month.
Then take the plunge if you think that the update will help you and you're certain it
will not compromise your computer system.

When I'm ready, what do I do?
You can get the update via the Windows Update service.
Or, in a few weeks, update CDs should be available any place computer software is sold.
Should you upgrade to Windows XP SP2?

The short answer: No. I don't recommend any upgrade for any operating system.
I do have exceptions, of course. I recommend upgrading to Windows XP from Windows ME,
for example. And if you're running Windows XP with a firewall (other than Windows) and
anti-virus software, you're addressing many of the security issues that plague the operating
system. But should you upgrade? Again, no.

My advice is to wait. Give the upgrade two weeks to a month to sink in elsewhere.
By then the horror stories will emerge (or not), and you can make a judgment whether
the upgrade is worth it based on those stories.

After a month, I will have upgraded my test machine and will report the results in one of
my newsletter in early September or so. You can wait a month, can't you?

Windows update ready to go!

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