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Small firms will be hit hard by SP2

One in 10 PCs will have compatibility issues with XP SP2 and smaller companies are twice as likely to have problems than large ones

One in 10 PCs will have compatibility issues with Windows XP Service Pack 2, a report claims. Smaller companies are also twice as likely to have problems than larger ones, according to research from Canadian company AssetMetrix.

An average company using Windows XP will encounter compatibility problems on 10.3% of its XP-based machines, according to AssetMetrix. The research firm based its findings on the examination of more than 44,000 Windows XP-based PCs from 342 different companies in various sectors. It looked at the installation of software applications which Microsoft is warning may have various compatibility and functionality issues with SP2. Microsoft has identified 60 such applications that may not work properly after SP2 is installed.

The size of the company is also likely to determine how much of a problem it faces with the SP2 upgrade, with companies with less than 100 XP installations having an average impact of around 12% while larger companies taking only half the hit, with around 6% of PCs affected.

AssetMetrix identifies a number of reasons why smaller companies are more likely to be affected than their bigger brethren. Firstly, smaller companies generally keep less up-to-date with their software purchasing, and will have older versions of applications which are more likely to be affected. Also, as smaller firms don’t get as good discounts on their software purchasing as larger, they often buy applications that aren’t marketing leading, some of which, such as Corel WordPerfect Office, have been listed by Microsoft as likely to cause problems.

Despite these problems, small firms should still go for SP2, AssetMetrix claims. “Though smaller companies may encounter a relatively higher cost to address compatibility and functionality issues, the security value that SP2 addresses far outweighs the efforts required to ensure software compatibility; companies should not hesitate on deploying SP2,” it states.

Currently, Microsoft is allowing businesses to hold of deployment until they have tested SP2, but that moratorium runs out in December, when they will have to install it. AssetMetrix recommends that firms carry out a software inventory to identify the size of the potential impact; keep an eye out for any updates from Microsoft on what applications are affected; and ensure that image originals for XP are updated appropriately so that affected software is not re-deployed in the future.

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