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The announcement that Windows XP with SP2 (Service Pack 2) will be preloaded on computers when they’re delivered to customers is causing some concern in the reseller community. The concern isn’t about SP2’s importance. Rather, it’s about custom applications that reseller customers may want to run on those computers.

“I guess it’s really mandatory,” said Oliver Rist, president of FB2 Corp. in Lake Success, N.Y. FB2 is an integrator selling into the real estate management market that has custom applications for its customers. “It’s risky if you don’t test,” Rist said. He added that his company would be testing all of its applications on new platforms for SP2 compatibility.

Eric Jans, systems engineer at CDW Corp. in Vernon Hills, Ill., agrees. “It could be good or bad,” Jans said. “If you’re not testing, it could be disastrous.”

Jans said it makes a big difference what kind of user would be buying the computers with SP2 preloaded. “For a smaller company just using Office, e-mail and Internet access,” he said, “it will work fine.”

Jans is worried about larger customers, however.

“When you get to custom apps, that’s where you run into problems,” he said. Jans said he worries that some customers with custom applications might try to deploy their new computers without first testing to make sure everything works. He said that’s a bad idea and added, “We’ve all heard the stories.”

Despite the potential for problems with custom software, both Rist and Jans said they think SP2 is necessary. “It’s probably mandatory,” Rist said, pointing out that the increased security and improved support will make things easier for customers in the long run.

“It’s less work down the line,” Rist said, adding that the other choices aren’t good. “Either you do it in a roll-up like this, or you’ll do it later manually,” he said.

Rist also said companies with well-designed, well-managed networks probably don’t have a lot to worry about. “If you’re running a tight network ship, then it should be OK.” Rist said that as long as a company’s network is fairly homogeneous, there should be few surprises.

Jans echoed Rist’s comments. “Once this gets out there and everybody gets used to it, you won’t hear anything more about SP2,” he said.

Microsoft has changed its tune on porting SP2 fixes. Click here to read more.

Jans went on to say that the biggest challenge for companies is learning how to turn new features on or off so that their needs are met. Rist, for example, said his company is turning off the built-in Windows firewall and instead using Sygate or ZoneAlarm firewalls because of their superior security features.

Overall, however, both Rist and Jans said they see the SP2 move in a positive light. Despite the fact that there could be problems, Rist said he thinks companies making custom software will have to accommodate SP2. Jans agrees and thinks companies will get used to it. “It’s a good update for Microsoft,” Jans said.

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