Time's About Up For Windows XP Service Pack 1
Microsoft Corp. will ship at least six patches later today to fix problems in its Windows operating systems, but those fixes will be the final set of security updates released for XP users who are still running their systems under an outdated patch roll-up known as Service Pack 1.
That's because Microsoft will end support for Service Pack 1 on Oct. 10, a deadline that has long been looming. The current patch roll-up for Windows XP is Service Pack 2, a bundle of updates and security enhancements that Microsoft released in Sept. 2004. Under the company's stated support policy, Microsoft "will provide 12 months of support for the previous service pack," support that "may be extended to 24 months for service packs if Microsoft believes customers will need additional time for testing and deployment." I checked with a Microsoft spokesperson: SP1 users will be able to download patches this month, but next month: no dice.
If you're using XP and have delayed installing SP2 for any reason, these next few days and weeks are a good time to stop procrastinating. Before you install, however, I'd strongly recommend backing up any and all data files, and making doubly sure that your system is free from spyware or adware, as many of the problems people previously reported in upgrading to Service Pack 2 were related to existing spyware infestations. You might also want to consult Microsoft's tips on upgrading.
By the way, the next Service Pack for Windows XP -- SP3 -- isn't due to be released until sometime in the second half of 2007.
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