Should I install XP Service Pack 2 (RC2)?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Vicki S. writes:

" I've been reading up on next major release from Microsoft (Windows XP Service Pack 2). From what I understand -- and, as with all Service Pack releases -- there are major security issues addressed in the upcoming release.

I'm a bit confused: I understand the Service Pack 2 is not due to be released for a while yet, however, Microsoft is offering 'Release Candidate 2' [RC2] of Service Pack 2. My question is, do you think RC2 will work for me? I have Windows XP home edition, a cable modem, and Norton Internet Security 2004, not to mention all the other programs I have installed on my machine. Any help would be appreciated! PS: I really enjoy you newsletters and have learned a lot from them!"

My response:

When software is developed, it is said to be in its "beta stages". In a beta stage, only a select few are allowed to test the software (referred to as beta testing). When software in development is close to the final stage, it is released to the general public for further testing and is referred to as the 'release candidate' (RC) stage. After all the bugs have been worked out, the final release becomes available to the general public.

It is worth noting that the Release Candidate 2 of Service Pack 2 is in fact available on the Microsoft web site, however, there is a warning which reads: "WARNING! This technical preview is unsupported and is intended for testing purposes only. Do not use in production environments."

So, here is my advice:

If the stability and functionality of your system is absolutely critical, I suggest you wait at least 2 ~ 4 weeks after the final version of Service Pack 2 is released. This should provide enough opportunity to hear about rants and raves from thousands (millions?) of PCs around the world after they've installed SP2 (final) on their machines.

Back when Service Pack 1 was released, everyone rushed to install it because there were reports that it resolve major security issues that could allow a hacker unprecedented access to your PC. If you recall, however, there was also a great deal of recourse from users (especially with Outlook / Outlook Express denying email attachments).

In short: it's better to be safe than sorry!

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