Reticence reins over SP2 installs

Von Siobhan McBride

Nine months after the release of Microsoft Corp."s voluminous security upgrade Service Pack 2, Australian IT managers remain reticent about installing the product.

Microsoft claimed a November 2004 survey of 800 enterprise customers showed 77 percent planned deployments during the next six months.

However, customers like Bata Shoes IT manager Steven Barrett remain unwilling to bet the farm on what SP2 will do.

"I"m just taking the softly-softly approach. Historically we"ve had some issues with service packs - things like bugs. I heard some stories which made me wary."

Barrett is also worried by cross compatibility across machines.

"It"s a big service pack and so far has taken longer that normal to install. I"ve decided not to march blindly into this one," he said.

Barrett said issues also have made him one consider alternative options - including Linux.

"We"re stuck with Microsoft, because we"re supported by Bata Shoes overseas, but I do think there would be a place for something like Linux in our environment; it"s always something at the back of your mind," Barrett said.

"It"s just that it"s hard to get away from Microsoft because it dominates everything."

Similarly, IT manager for billion-dollar rail transport operator Pacific National, Norman Arnott, has also delayed SP2 upgrades - but he remains sceptical about switching to Linux.

"I think there"s far too much hype generated about Linux; I just don"t see any advantage in moving to open source. It"s not as free as people think," Arnott said.

Arnott said no part of his organization has yet deployed SP2 because of the time and cost involved, but added he isn"t any anticipating problems.

"We don"t have sophisticated applications and we don"t play with things, so there shouldn"t be any problems," Arnott said.

"I think a lot of issues arise when people start trying to be too clever with their software. We make it a rule not to play too much with Microsoft; it"s just easier that way."

IT manager for clothing retailer Harris Scarfe, Jeff Hobart also prefers not to fiddle and still uses Windows 97 and 95.

"But we have purchased laptops that already have SP2 on them," Hobart said.

Hobart said Microsoft has learnt its lesson over the years.

"It"s realized (how wide the impact is that) it can"t afford to get things wrong," Hobart said.

"Four years ago it was a different story, Microsoft used to go in with a hammer, and I think it caused a lot of pain and suffering."

Microsoft Australia"s security product manager Ben English conceded compatibility issues remain with SP2 and certain applications, but urged customers to make the upgrade in the interests of better security.