Is Windows XP Service Pack 1 worth the effort?

Microsoft has released the first service pack for Windows XP this month, although the verdict from many test engineers is not entirely enthusiastic.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  September 14, 2002

Microsoft has released the first service pack for Windows XP this month, although the verdict from many test engineers is not entirely enthusiastic.

Service Pack 1 (SP1) combines over 300 security, system and bug fixes for XP, along with Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and a number of changes intended to appease the US Department of Justice, but at a cost.

The service pack is a massive 134MB download in total, and requires from 434MB to 717MB of memory to install-but, according to CNET, doesn't provide that noticeable a performance increase.

There is a 20-30MB version, available for those that are already up to date with the security and bug fixes, but otherwise it is a long download or $10 for the CD version. While SP1 is supposed to smooth out some of the rough edges in XP, and is obviously recommended if only for security reasons alone, the CNET engineers report very little visible performance increase.

JVM is only intended as a short-term addition, which will allow proper viewing of more Java-based web pages, but unfortunately will be removed from XP by 2004.

Even the features that will allow users to hide Microsoft proprietary applications such as Internet Explorer, Windows Messenger, Outlook Express and Windows Media Player, only allow you to hide, not remove these applications if you wish to use alternatives, and even then setting non-Microsoft applications as defaults caused CNET engineers some problems because of a lack of third party support for XP.

While the management of service packs has become a regular part of OS maintenance, the spacing between packs is too great for users to safely rely just on them to update their security.

This means that service packs have to offer some improvement to performance or functionality to make it worthwhile for users to bother to download them. Of course, people will get SP1 just for security and bug fixes, but at around 500MB for a typical installation, SP1 is just not offering a lot of bang per byte.

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