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Microsoft: 106 Million Downloads of Windows XP SP2

It was an ambitious, self-imposed goal -- distribute 100 million copies of Windows XP Service Pack 2 within two months of the critical security update's release. On Wednesday, Microsoft declared success.

"In just two months, more than 106 million copies of Windows XP SP2 have been distributed around the world," a company spokesman said in an e-mail to reporters. "Approximately 90 million were downloaded via Automatic Update, Windows Update and the Download Center. Another 16 million were distributed via CDs, either ordered from Microsoft or distributed by Microsoft via various venues."

The spokesperson said that while Microsoft is "pleased" with the broad uptake, the company "recognizes that its work isn't done." Microsoft's effort has reached about 40 percent of the installed base, which market researchers at IDC estimate at more than 255 million Windows XP users.

"Customers need to do their part as well. They should download Windows XP SP2 as soon as possible," the spokesperson said.

SP2's full name is Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies. Microsoft's decision, made public a year ago, to redo the service pack with a security focus came in response to the major security problems of the summer of 2003.

The massive service pack includes a new security dashboard, called the Windows Security Center; a rebuilt, renamed and on-by-default personal firewall, the Windows Firewall; support for no execution flags in newer processors; and enhancements to security configurations in the browser and e-mail client.

Despite the needed security improvements and Microsoft's aggressive deployment campaign, many corporate customers have balked at the application rewrites and client reconfigurations that are required to get many custom and some commercial applications to work with the Windows Firewall and locked-down Internet Explorer. Tools to help corporate customers prevent the automatic downloading of SP2 have proven popular.

In the statement, the company also acknowledged the other half of its Windows client installed base -- all the Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 98 and Windows 2000 clients that aren't eligible for SP2's protections. The company recommended that customers on other Windows clients use a firewall, get regular software updates and use up-to-date antivirus software.

Microsoft gradually increased the rate of SP2 distribution over Automatic Update and other channels in the two-and-a-half months since Windows XP SP2's release to manufacturing on Aug. 6. Although the company discussed the 100-million goal on that date, Microsoft apparently marked the start of its two-month counting period with the posting of SP2 for Windows XP Home Edition to Automatic Update on Aug. 18.

In disclosing its progress toward the 100 million goal at its halfway point, Sept. 17, Microsoft had distributed 20 million copies.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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