RealTime IT News

Enterprise Foot-Dragging on XP SP2

A study released Tuesday found that 50 percent of U.S. businesses expected installation of Microsoft's XP Service Pack 2 to disrupt their businesses.

Around 73 percent of the IT managers surveyed said their biggest concern about migrating to SP2, Microsoft's security-oriented operating system service pack, was compatibility with other applications. These IT managers were right to be worried: A third of them run more than 100 applications inside the corporate firewall.

In the survey, 49 percent of IT managers thought that better protection against viruses and worms would be the biggest benefit from migration to SP2. Another 37 percent believed the company would benefit from the overall security improvements.

But even though security may be a critical reason for large businesses to upgrade, they've been stalling, with 79 percent of respondents not having upgraded yet, but planning to deploy SP2 within the next 6 months.

"IT managers want to embrace SP2, but they might feel like they're grabbing a cactus," said Bruce Mowery, vice president of marketing for SupportSoft, the company that paid for the survey.

"The number one reason why enterprises are hesitating on deploying XPSP2 was software incompatibility," Mowery said.

He said that while Microsoft offered a list of applications that it had tested internally and knew would be incompatible with XPSP2, most large companies run customized versions of applications, which are unknown quantities in an upgrade. "The issues there are much larger and more complex," he said, "along with the fact that many are related to business process use, applications that are vital to keeping the whole enterprise running."

Long before Microsoft released XP SP2, it warned developers and Windows customers to test their applications to see if they were compatible with SP2, which closed many of the security holes in the Windows OS. To that end, it provided an online training course for developers.

The survey of 117 IT managers at large U.S. companies was conducted by independent research firm InsightExpress on behalf SupportSoft, a Redwood City, Calif. company that sells software aimed at easing the pains of application upgrades.

SupportSoft's new software offerings, released last week, include Endpoint Automation Suite, which inventories hardware and software assets; Self-Service Suite, which lets end users try to resolve post-rollout problems on their own; and Intelligent Assistance Suite offers tools for tech support personnel to fix problems.

Mowery wouldn't disclose how many SupportSoft customers were using its products in XP SP2 upgrades, but he said it was a big topic of conversation at the company's recent user conference.

"Everyone has to cross this bridge sometime in 2005," he said.