Look Before You Leap Dept, Windows Version:

Programs that may behave differently in Windows XP Service Pack 2: Many who use WinXP can be forgiven for the temptation to apply Service Pack 2, especially if they are reading any of the media paeans to how indispensible it is. The Washington Post technology pundit went so far as to proclaim that any computer manufacturer who doesn’t upgrade the Windows installs they provide with new machines to SP2 isn’t fit to market PCs. What SP2 is supposed to do is largely to close interconnectivity security holes (it turns on the Microsoft firewall by default… duh!) and (finally! they decry) add popup-blocking to Internet Explorer. However, before you decide to apply SP2, read the list of programs which may ‘behave differently’ (read: ‘stop working’?) afterwards. While there are alot of games on the list, such heavyhitters as Symantec and McAfee products, Nero Burning ROM, the ZoneAlarm woftware firewall, Adobe Pagemaker, and many of Microsoft’s own Office components can also be found there. So I don’t think I’ll be applying the upgrade after all, especially since I already use effective ways of protecting myself in the manner Microsoft boasts of doing with SP2 — the aforementioned ZoneAlarm (plus a hardware firewall) , both server- and client-based spam blocking, and the built-in pop-up blocking in the Mozilla and Firebird browsers. No matter how improved Internet Explorer is, why bother?

And the reports that will emerge of what Microsoft has inevitably ‘broken’ in implementing this ‘fix’ are probably just beginning. [Yes, yes, I know, this whole discussion is really irrelevant, since the real issue is that Microsoft’s OS is such an imperfect creature overall, and those of you out there using Linux or OS-X are sitting there smirking smugly…]