Programs "Seem" to Break Under Windows XP SP2, Microsoft Says
by Alex Woodie
Microsoft has published a Knowledge Base article that contains a detailed list of the first 50 or so programs from Microsoft and independent software vendors that are having problems working with the new security-focused release of Windows, XP Service Pack 2. As expected, the list is populated with many popular Telnet clients, in addition to a number of firewalls and antivirus offerings, and a good chunk of Microsoft's own Windows Server System as well.
For weeks preceding the delivery of Windows XP SP2 on August 6, the buzz had been about what programs may or may not work well with the update of the popular operating system. Some vendors, like Norton, took a proactive approach and announced that there would be some minor incompatibilities with the new security features in XP SP2, but that its software should keep running. Microsoft said its CRM package would need to be patched to work with XP SP2, and major incompatibilities were forewarned by vendors of Telnet clients, which Guild Companies told you about in early July (see "Host Access Vendors Wary About Windows XP SP2").
Microsoft isn't ready to say that any programs will flat-out stop working with Windows XP SP2. In the company's Knowledge Base article number 842242, which features the nuanced title "Some programs seem to stop working after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2," Microsoft presents a list of the programs that seem to fail following an XP SP2 upgrade and the steps users can take to make them work.
The Windows Firewall, which is enabled by default with XP SP2, appears to be causing the majority of the problems. Microsoft is encouraging people to first use the new Security Alert dialog box to unblock programs. The Security Alert dialog box shows up for unrecognized inbound network traffic; the Windows Firewall does not monitor outbound traffic. The Knowledge Base article also details the steps needed to add a non-responsive program to the exceptions tab of the firewall. Lastly, programs that need an open line to the Internet can be unblocked by opening up certain ports, but this can involve technical steps performed outside of the GUI comfort zone, at a command line, and Microsoft appears to prefer to have people re-enable their seemingly broken applications using one of the other two methods.
The network applications that "seem" to break under Windows XP SP2 are installed on an untold number of corporate and government desktops across the country. Many of the programs, such as Telnet and FTP clients, provide vital links to servers, especially for employees working at remote locations, where internal tech support is an airplane ride or a hotel stay away.
Microsoft says that the following Telnet and FTP client products "seem" to break under Windows XP SP2:
- Attachmate Extra! Personal Client 6.5 and 6.7; Extra! Enterprise 2000; Extra! Bundle for TCP/IP 6.6; and KEA! 340 5.1
- Esker Software Smarterm Office 10 and Smarterm 11
- GlobalSCAPE Cute FTP 5.0 XP
- Hummingbird Host Explorer 8
- NetManage ViewNow 1.0 and 1.05
- WRQ Reflection X 10 and 11; Reflection for IBM 9, 9.03, 10; and Reflection X 10 and 11
- Quest Software Aelita ERdisk for Active Directory 6.7
Other third-party programs that are having problems with XP SP2 include:
Microsoft says some of its own software products are having trouble with XP SP2, including:
- Visual Studio .NET
- SQL and SQL 2000a
- Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 Server
- Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 (client)
- Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2000 SP1
- SNA 4.0 SP3
Third-party patch management vendors that compete with Microsoft's SMS and MOM offerings are jumping at the chance to steal some business from under Microsoft's nose, as corporations prepare their Windows XP SP2 roll-outs. "Get prepared for a wave of help desk calls," warned Citadel Security Software on Monday in announcing a new product, called Hercules, that can assist with mass XP SP2 installations. "Microsoft has been urging users to allow their machines to automatically install patches via Automatic Update and Windows Update," says Citadel's chief technology officer, Carl Banzhof. "As a result, administrators may find XP SP2 creeping onto their networks via user applications before they have been able to properly test it. This could cause an increase in support issues as users alert administrators that their critical applications no longer function."
Similarly, ScriptLogic says its Enterprise and Desktop Authority Version 5.6 is helping its customers implement Windows XP SP2 in an orderly fashion. Symantec also announced that ON iPatch Version 1.1, the latest release of its patch management utility for Windows and other operating systems, would be available in mid-August, in time for the bulk of Windows XP SP2 downloads and installations at shops that have chosen not to use the new Automatic Update features that Microsoft is pushing people to use with Windows XP SP2.
The Automatic Update feature basically allows Microsoft to control the download and installation process for any service pack, update, or security patch without manual user intervention. However, many large PC users, including IBM, have expressed concern over users downloading and installing Windows XP SP2 before their system administrators have had time to adequately test it. Microsoft has addressed such concerns by posting to its Web site a tool that allows the Windows XP SP2 upgrade to be temporarily blocked on machines that have Automatic Update activated. The tool can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site.