Details of Changes in Windows XP Service Pack 2

There’s been alarm expressed in certain quarters following reports like this one suggesting that Windows XP Service Pack 2 could break some existing applications. I wanted to counter this somewhat, or at least provide some potential remedies for those of you who are developing software today that needs to be tested against this new release.

  • Firstly, we’ve made a whole wealth of resources available online that provides training on how to modify your applications accordingly. One of those resources, known as the Book of XPSP2, lists every single change, the potential impact of that change for your own code and workarounds as necessary.

  • Secondly, Windows XP Service Pack 2 is available for download to MSDN Subscribers. I’ve heard from a few of you that would like to see it more broadly available, and I can certainly empathise with that request. Equally though, the purpose of MSDN is to provide exactly this kind of resource: monthly updates of our developer platform and tools. If you’re doing professional software development for Windows, MSDN is the single best resource for beta and released software, SDKs, support and documentation.

  • Thirdly, we do have a formal beta programme for all service packs these days to ensure that they are at least as well tested as the major releases on which they’re based. Unfortunately I think the XPSP2 beta programme is now closed to new nominations as the release date is drawing ever closer.

  • Lastly, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as people are fearing. The changes that are being made protect end-users from the increased threat posed by worms, trojan horses and spyware today, and for most applications will go unnoticed. Once you read the specifics about the changes made, you’ll hopefully agree that only a very few niche applications will require modifications to work in the new environment.

Comments (17)

  1. Anonymous says:

    LSN WebLog » Details of the changes in windows xp SP2

  2. CC says:

    "Some application behaviors are expected to be incompatible with execution protection. Applications which perform dynamic code generation (such as Just-In-Time code generation) …"

    I hope this doesn’t kill my Java VM ?:)

  3. MSDN subscriber says:

    The XP SP2 package in MSDN seems to be an older version of SP2 instead of the new one released few weeks back. It is dated December last year.

    Could anyone confirm this! When will subscribers get the new SP2 package.

  4. Robert says:

    I received my new update build 2088, but via download. I did not get my CD but with the first release instead. You have to unistall the old build before you install the new update.

    Just be patient. All will go well in the end.

  5. DuncS says:

    Echoing the concerns of "MSDN Subscriber" — the MSDN download looks a bit old – could you do a little prodding to get the latest version up there, Tim?

  6. Tim Sneath says:

    The build that’s posted there is the official beta release. We’ve made some interim releases available to beta testers, but the next release published on MSDN will probably be the release candidate, which is due fairly soon now.

  7. Adam says:

    Im impressed with the interim build

    Its the most stable beta service pack ive ever used

    Security center is also very cool 😉

  8. Johan Gillis says:

    SP2 Beta broke our program. It’s a VB6 program using ‘Remote Automation’ (introduced in VB4) as communication platform between computers. This doesn’t work anymore. Anyone who knows a solution?

  9. Tim Sneath says:


    That’s probably because of the RPC lockdown in XPSP2. Remote Automation is not the most secure mechanism for doing distributed communication. You probably already know that it was superseded by DCOM and then .NET Remoting a long while ago, and your best bet is to migrate off it if at all possible. Still, have a look at the Book of SP2 link in the main article – there’s a description of the RPC changes and how to re-enable the relevant functionality.

    If you still need additional help, you might want to try a post to the OLE newsgroup here:

    Cheers, Tim

  10. Tim Sneath says:

    As mentioned elsewhere in the blog, XP SP2 RC1 is now available at – hope this helps those of you who aren’t MSDN subscribers.

  11. Ed Hornsey says:

    Tim, thanks for the timely SP2 RC information. Going off to test to see how it works in our test environments.


  12. Tim Sneath says:

    Brief update – this looks like quite a promising webcast if you’re wanting to understand these changes in more detail:

  13. Tatham Oddie says:

    Tim, you seem to know a lot about the service pack – perhasp you’d be able to answer some of my queries posted here:


  14. Rajiv says:

    I dont know what happened , but my OS crashed after installing the Service Pack 2 , I tried an uninstall as I ahd done a backup and I restored eveything, I am scared to do it again , but I know its needed, Taking help from a friend now !

  15. Eric says:

    Wheee. SP2 rocks.

  16. Digging .NET says:

    After playing with XP SP2 RC1 for a while I still have a few things which bother me.I had a look at group…