Yesterday, Microsoft provided a second method for blocking Automatic Updates and Windows Update automatic downloads of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). The method, which uses a VBScript script, is designed for IT administrators who want to temporarily block the SP2 download while they prepare their environments for the massive upgrade. Microsoft earlier provided a separate mechanism for delaying the SP2 download. 
  
"This script runs against multiple computers to remotely block or unblock the delivery of Windows XP SP2 from Windows Update Web site or via Automatic Updates," a note on the Microsoft Web site says. "The code uses the StdRegProv class of the Windows Management Instrumentation Registry provider. The ability to block delivery of Windows XP SP2 will be available for a limited time only." The script uses a comma-delimited text file that contains the names of machines the IT administrator wants to block. The script is available for download from Microsoft's Web site.
  
The fact that Microsoft is so quickly providing ways to prevent SP2 installations might seem odd, but the update's massive download size could hobble businesses when their client machines try to download and install SP2. The situation is particularly problematic for US universities, which were just starting their fall semesters when Microsoft unleashed SP2. "The timing is extremely unfortunate," Anne Agee, deputy chief information officer at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, told "The Washington Post." "It wouldn't be so bad if we had gotten this more than a month ago, because at least then we would have had plenty of time to test it and make a decision about how we want to correct for this." George Mason University, like many other universities, has decided to temporarily block the SP2 download.
  
For users who are still waiting for SP2, this week marks another milestone in the upgrade's slow rollout. Tomorrow, Microsoft will release the download to XP Professional Edition users who have enabled Automatic Updates.