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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Windows XP SP2 finally hits the shops

After winding its way across the internet, Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) is finally heading to retail shelves.

Microsoft last week started the process of swapping out all of the boxed copies of Windows XP with the updated version, with a triangle in the upper corner touting SP2 and its security enhancements. US Retailer OfficeMax is among those promoting the change, advertising that it will have XP SP2 on sale starting today.

Over the next month, Microsoft hopes to swap out the bulk of all boxed copies worldwide. Retailers can, through their distributor, exchange their existing Windows XP boxes for the update.

"We were able to do it in fairly short order," said Matt Pilla, a senior product manager in the Windows Client unit. "It normally takes us a minimum of three months when we are refreshing the packaging."

Microsoft itself is not doing a lot of promotion of the new boxes, although some retailers, such as OfficeMax, are taking the opportunity to promote XP. OfficeMax is offering a free 128MB flash drive and anti-spyware software to customers buying an XP upgrade.

Although it is not marketing SP2 heavily, Microsoft does have a fall advertising campaign around Windows XP, but it has yet to kick off.

The company is also stepping up the rate at which it is providing automatic updates to XP users who have the feature turned on. As of the end of September, the company had provided 40 million, up from 20 million copies as of mid-month. The company has also completed all of the various local language versions of XP SP2.

Microsoft has a goal of delivering 100 million downloads via automatic update in the first two months. The company first started offering SP2 for automatic update on 18 August, but Pilla said it may be the end of October before it hits the 100 million mark. Still, he said the company is roughly on track despite having delayed the release of SP2 for XP professional customers and given tools that allow businesses to delay installing the update.

"Clearly 100 million is a very lofty goal," Pilla said.

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