August 26, 2004
SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. is starting to ramp up distribution of its massive security update for the Windows XP operating system, but analysts say they still expect the company to move at a relatively slow pace to avoid widespread glitches.
With only a small percentage of users running the product, analysts say they aren’t seeing any unexpected problems so far. But some expect confusion to mount as more people begin installing the update.
‘‘Microsoft realized that a lot of people are going to have some level of problems, no matter how good a job they did with it,’’ said Steve Kleynhans, a vice president with META Group, based in Stamford, Conn.
‘‘When you start tweaking with security . . . you’re bound to break applications. It’s always been true and it always will be true.’’
The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker completed work on the update, called Service Pack 2, in early August.
But Greg Sullivan, a Microsoft lead product manager, said that a ‘‘relatively small percentage’’ of users have received the update so far, mainly through an automatic download service.
Microsoft is expecting to gradually increase the rate of distribution through automatic updates, with most receiving it within two months.
Beginning Wednesday, Windows XP users also will be able to download the upgrade directly from Microsoft’s support Web site, or order a free CD version.
Businesses who use Windows XP Professional also will begin receiving the update through an automatic download, if they have agreed to that service.
Many big businesses are expected to take months to install the upgrade, because the changes may cause compatibility problems with customized business applications.
Consumers also may need to update favorite programs, such as security software or other Web-based applications.
Some companies, such as SBC Communications, have sent out e-mails to users who need to download updates. But Kleynhans said it’s hard to count on people to actually read those e-mails and make necessary changes.
SBC said it had not heard any reports of customers having problems with Service Pack 2.
Microsoft also has posted a list of products that may experience problems with the security upgrade, prompting some companies to scramble to come up with fixes.