My Windows XP SP2 installations went flawlessly!
Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed with zero problems on both of my XP computers. The install takes about 30 minutes per machine, including the download time.
Microsoft recommends running a spyware killer such as the free version of Ad-Aware before installing SP2. You also might want to run a program like Norton SystemWorks One Button Check-Up, to fix any existing problems too.
The Windows SP2 Service Center has much info on installing SP2, including this list of programs that may operate badly under SP2.
When you’re ready to install, go to WindowsUpdate.Microsoft.com and download the files. Warning. These are big! On my XP Home machine, the download was 80 mb, and on my XP Pro machine, 110 mb. This is much larger than a dial up connection can handle in any reasonable amount of time so, if you have a dial up, you’ll have to send for the installation CD.
If you have a software firewall, it might alert you to programs that have changed during the SP2 install, asking if you give permission to use them. Click Yes or Permit.
Once SP2 installs and re-boots, you may get a screen asking if you want Automatic Updates. I chose Automatic Updates On. You can tweak the setting later in Windows Security Center. My choice is always ‘Notify me but don’t download or install.”
Upon booting, you should have a Windows Security Center icon in the taskbar. I suggest you do not use the inadequate Windows Firewall, and instead use either the SyGate or ZoneAlarm firewalls, both of which are free.
To disable the Windows Firewall, open Security Center. At the bottom, you will see “Manage Security Settings”, click “Windows Firewall”, then click “Off (not recommended).,” Do this *after* you have installed another software firewall, of course!
One of my computers has Norton Internet Security 2004. Upon rebooting after the XP2 install, it asked if I wanted to use Norton as the default firewall, and not the Windows Firewall, which is a useful feature.
If you have lost access to the Net, it might be because your software firewall is blocking access. Check this article for more info.
I had no problem with network configurations or with printing, contrary to previous warnings, including those from Microsoft itself.
Summary: Much to my surprise, SP2 installation was simple and easy, with no problems at all. Microsoft has done a remarkable job in making this as painless as possible.