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Windows XP SP2 is nearing completion as this article is being written. Pre-release versions are available for download and testing.
The question is, should you?
My advice? Wait. Even after it's been released, give it a little time.
I'll tell you why ...
The pre-release XP SP2 download site has this warning:
WARNING! This technical preview is unsupported and is intended for testing purposes only. Do not use in production environments.
Granted, that's Microsoft covering their corporate fanny. But still, that warning should be enough to let you know that SP2 isn't ready for prime time. Unless you're in a position to re-install your system when you uncover some fatal flaw in SP2, it's clear you should wait.
But what about after it releases?
Windows XP Service Pack 2 promises several important security related updates. Microsoft's provided several pages detailing the changes. Of particular interest are changes to Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Messaging Service, as well as changes throughout the system, all focussed on increased security.
What this means is that there are some fundamental changes going on - changes that could affect daily usage of the system.
Unless I discover a specific need for it, I plan to let SP2 "mature" in the field before I install it myself. I do that for two reasons: first, any additional bugs that will naturally be found from a mass deployment should become known, and workarounds or fixes made available. Second, because of the nature of the security changes happening in this service pack, I'm concerned that usage scenarios I care about might be affected. I'd let the ramifications be better understood before I take the leap.
So I suggest you do the same, for now. How long? I'd wait anywhere from a week to a month after its release before installing SP2. And even then I'd pay particular attention to news and information about how SP2 is actually behaving in the field.
Return here, and I'll let you know when I've installed it, and any important ramifications I end up caring about.
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