Windows XP Service Pack 2 worth it?
September 19, 2004 4:30 AM   Subscribe

This earlier post has made me wary about getting Service Pack 2 for XP. What are your experiences with SP2?
posted by Termite to Computers & Internet (26 answers total)
No problems at all. Zero.
posted by sageleaf at 4:40 AM on September 19, 2004

”How many of you were around when SP1 was released? If your memory of that event has faded, allow me a moment to remind you about all the problems that accompanied the SP1 release. After installation some things broke, others didn't work as expected, and the winds of user discontent were howling. In all fairness I'll be the first to admit that it's normally only those users that have a problem that say anything. Those that experienced no problems, by far the majority, just keep on working quietly.

The point is that as long as you are current with Windows Update, have a firewall installed, and your virus protection is up to date then there is no rush to get SP2 installed. For crying out loud, it has been almost two years already so what's another month or so? Let the early adopters and fools such as myself go ahead and install it and be the guinea pigs. Believe me, it won't take long for new problems to surface. They will be addressed quickly and a month or so down the road you'll get a much more stable and well tested product.”
– sez The Elder Geek

posted by Termite at 4:46 AM on September 19, 2004

Seems to be a bit of line-draw fallacy in that last post, but to answer the question: It's very good from what I can tell – native bluetooth support and a more configurable firewall for two; lush.
posted by ed\26h at 4:50 AM on September 19, 2004

For my needs it's been a pain in the ass, honestly. Installing it over my existing installation broke 3D Studio MAX R3 (old app, though), and the way a few new things haven't been split off into their own seperate services fucked with my usual 8-services-or-less configuration (I run a VERY tight ship over here). I had to play 'set the random service to manual and punch start (repeat) until the program works' whackamole for a few hours.

I ended up formatting, reinstalling XP, updating and THEN installing 3D Studio MAX R3 after the fact, and being a little less zealous in my pursuit of excess services. Works fine now.

First thing I did though was turn off the firewall - I have my own dedicated OpenBSD firewall which is far superior, thank you very much - and security center. I suppose that means I've disabled the vaunted 'benefits', but I was just in it for the bugfixes anyways.
posted by Ryvar at 4:59 AM on September 19, 2004

Ryvar: I recommend nLite.
posted by ed\26h at 5:02 AM on September 19, 2004

Mostly good but I think it broke sharezzaa, I haven't bothered to fiddle with it enough to see if I can get it working.
posted by Mick at 6:08 AM on September 19, 2004

I've had no trouble with it at all, and I like it, too. I'm an IE user and it's nice to finaly have built-in popup control. But, even better, I love the "Manage Add-Ons" menu.

The problem with sharezzaa might be the new limit on rate of outgoing connections. Note that though the rate is throttled, it's not the case that new connection requests above that rate are discarded...they're queued. Given a little bit of time, it should work itself out. But there's a hack to alter the cap.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2004

I installed it on my desktop and laptop and had no troubles, aside from the new security wizard complaining that my computer didn't have a virus scanner when it just didn't give it time to start up. So I just disabled the wizard. It's for noobs anyway.
posted by crunchland at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2004

The firewall in SP2 is irritating. It automatically turns itself on and blocks everything, which meant that the VNC setup I arranged for a client 1200 miles away didn't work. I had to talk them over the phone into fixing the problem. Fixing a problem blind, over the phone, in a control panel you've never seen before? Not fun. The stupid thing should have done a localhost port scan and come up with a list of active services to see which we wanted to block and which we didn't.

The pop-up blocker, too, is over-zealous. On one site, it considers the "where do you want to save this file" pop-up to be necessary to block. The files are XML files, the site is private. Stupid.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:51 AM on September 19, 2004

I've only had one problem but the solving it was pretty simple. a few days after I installed sp2, suddenly my computer began to crawl. the only clue was that whenever I shut down my computer osa9.exe, which is microsoft office's startup assistant. so I just deleted that from my startup folder, rebooted, and everything has been fine since. I rather like sp2.
posted by mcsweetie at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2004

I held off until just a few days ago, being a little nervous that it would somehow screw up the computers. Well, I scanned for ad and spyware first and I have installed it on one computer now. So far no problems. I tried lots of different things like burning CDs etc. and all seem to be working fine. However, it has only been a few days.
posted by caddis at 8:22 AM on September 19, 2004

I installed SP2 with no hitches.

I've seen some performance improvements, particularly on disk access.

And they FINALLY got around to changing the wireless network task tray icon to distinguish it from the wired one.
posted by Caviar at 8:48 AM on September 19, 2004

I hesitated for a week or two but I finally installed it and everything has been fine. It reinstalled Windows Messenger on me, but that's to be expected. Haven't really noticed any particular benefits. The firewall is definitely more talkative.
posted by frenetic at 9:55 AM on September 19, 2004

I've installed it on two computers - both without a hitch. The updated wireless client works with one of the computers where it didn't work before (allowing me to finally dump Buffalo's slow proprietary software), but I haven't really been affected by most of the other changes. The IE improvements are nice though, if you actually use IE, and the security improvements are good to have.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:10 AM on September 19, 2004

I installed it, but apparently there is a "known issue" that causes my network card to stop working; so I rolled back to SP1
posted by falconred at 10:27 AM on September 19, 2004

My computer locked up on me during the installation, and I would up having to remove SP2 and install it again. Then, it broke my wireless connection.

So, I uninstalled it again and haven't looked back.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:47 AM on September 19, 2004

'Nother question: microsofts download center suggested that I only really needed the .NET framework patch; does that handle all the security problems?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2004

Y@N: Well, maybe sorta not really. I'm sure it fixes some issues having to do with .Net programs, but I don't think that's THE security patch
posted by falconred at 11:51 AM on September 19, 2004

I've had zero problems with sp2. the firewall is a plus, although I already had one. Sure it's kind of a pain to unblock stuff but firewalls always are.
posted by bob sarabia at 1:16 PM on September 19, 2004

No problems on Vaio desktop or Presario laptop, but some annoyances. It may also have killed my Shareaza (I wasn't using it much before; skallas, do you mean that changing the port used will fix it?). The firewall seems ok, but I will probably disable it as unnecessary.

The pop-up blocker, too, is over-zealous.

Yes, I had to turn it off because it wouldn't allow sidebar links such as the classic MetaFilter bar (and there's no way to make an exception for it: if you're at when you click on your sidebar link, only "always allow popups" will let it open).

OTOH, I wish the Google toolbar popup blocker would cover the popup blocker gap without getting "over-zealous"—there are too many it doesn't block.
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:24 PM on September 19, 2004

Still holding off.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:16 PM on September 19, 2004

No problems at all and several nice bugfixes and speed improvements (although some annoying bugs remain in explorer.exe). If the firewall breaks your programs, just turn it off. And turn off the annoying security center if it bothers you.
posted by azazello at 6:25 PM on September 19, 2004

Are any of you who have dl'ed SP2 Yahoo Messenger users? MS noted it breaks YM on their website. Did it for you?
posted by Lynsey at 8:54 PM on September 19, 2004

actually, just today sp2 has been seriously misbehaving. winamp and zsnes have both been closing themselves shortly after running. this is most displeasing!
posted by mcsweetie at 9:17 PM on September 19, 2004

hum. i dropped the pre-public release (full network install) of SP2 onto 12 different computers - dells, gateways, HP laptop, and my home-built AMD machine. no problems so far. i love the firewall - we were running blackice before, and the goddamn thing would just randomly forget ALL of it's settings, defaulting to wide open and allowing anything. i just didn't trust it any more, and the idiotic level of popups in the free zonealarm wasn't worth the effort.

the IE plugin-thingy seems ok, i don't use that browser for anything except web testing so i'm not sure how annoying it would be. mozilla popup blocking works fine for me, thanks.

it did break nero6 - but there was a patch. and it breaks endnote8, so i'm glad i'm still running 6, no issues.

ethereal - tell me more about this outgoing connection cap. i've noticed that my damn FTP upload speeds have gone from multiple (up to 10) transfers at a time to like 2, which is pissing me off when doing a full website update (although it doesn't seem to happen while at work, just at home...)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:31 AM on September 20, 2004

CLF: if you're hitting the new limit, you can tell because it will generate a system event:
EventID 4226: TCP/IP has reached the security limit imposed on the number of concurrent TCP connect attempts
The new limit is the rate of ten concurrent connection attempts per second (not max connections, whch is still a TCP/IP setting and controllable via the registry). This is a throttle; and it's my understanding that (as I said) the TCP/IP stack queues the connection attempts that exceed this limit, supposedly given a bit of time they'll be processed.

The reason this limit was created was to combat worms and trojans, since the worst of them just go hog-wild in creating outbond connections.

To some people's disgruntlement, but for obvious reasons, there's not a simple registry setting which controls this throttling. If you want to change this, you actually have to hexedit TCPIP.SYS. This really isn't a good idea. And it shouldn't be necessary because, as I said, you'll get those connections, it'll just take more than a few seconds. Some people are hitting the limit with some P2P apps where, when initializing, it tries to connect to all the other peers with pieces of the file at once.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:34 AM on September 20, 2004

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