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Commentary: XP update's small splash

Gartner says Microsoft's Service Pack 1 offers modest improvements that will not affect most companies significantly.

By Michael Silver, Gartner Analyst

Don't let all the issues swirling around Service Pack 1 for Windows XP confuse you. SP1 offers modest improvements that will not affect most companies significantly.

See news story:
XP makeover highlights antitrust tweaks
Some security-conscious companies may have delayed XP deployments. Although SP1 includes few new security features, it may send a signal that it's all right to proceed with those deployments. In any case, Gartner never recommended that most companies wait for that reason.

Three other issues will have minimal impact on companies. First, SP1 will let PC makers swap out some Microsoft "middleware" applications--the Internet browser, media player, instant messaging and e-mail clients, and Java Virtual Machine. PC vendors will thus get more flexibility in how they configure their machines, and they can use this to strike deals with other software vendors and generate extra revenue. But Gartner doesn't think users will ultimately see much lower prices.

The second issue is the .Net Framework. Microsoft has added it to Windows XP to increase the pool of potential users for .Net services. However, companies that get SP1 don't have to install that framework if they don't want to. It is also available separately.

Third, even with the additional anti-piracy features in SP1, piracy controls are still a non-issue for companies as it was in the initial release of XP. Those with any kind of volume-license agreement don't have to implement anything extra. The anti-piracy features will affect only consumers who have bought certain pirated versions of XP.

In short, Gartner believes that SP1 is pretty straightforward. The final release will probably occur in September or October. Gartner's standard advice for companies applies:

• Wait a couple of months to install it until a few other companies have done so and the bugs have been worked out.

• Test that it doesn't break anything in the company's system before rolling it out to everyone.

Gartner has recommended that companies deploying Windows 2000 can continue to do so, but they should consider switching to XP for new machines in early 2003.

(For a related commentary on Windows XP, see

Entire contents, Copyright © 2002 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.