Microsoft Calls SP3 Fixes Fake

According to a PC World story, “Microsoft Exec Warns of ‘Fake’ XP Update” by Elizabeth Montalbano of the IDG News Service, a employee is warning against downloading an unauthorized version of Windows XP Service Pack 3 that has surfaced on a popular Web site that provides software patches

To paraphrase the folk standard, “How Can a Poor Microsoft Customer Stand Such Times and Live?”

Can Microsoft’s own bug fixes be trusted? Not until Microsoft has the opportunity to sell you its “new” system first. If you still want to use Windows XP after the Windows Vista rollout, Microsoft will grudgingly provide it in a service pack unofficially called SP3. Until then, the company not only disavows these fixes, but officially condemns any other vendor that supplies them.

Here is how Microsoft treats its customers: You can get specific “hot fixes” for bugs in its system and applications software directly from Microsoft’s support line, but the company won’t acknowledge these fixes or allow others to provide them, nor will the company package these fixes into a service pack until Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn) ships in late 2006 or 2007.

Mike Brannigan, an enterprise strategy and senior consultant at Microsoft, announced in a post on Google Groups that an unofficial version of Windows XP SP3 provided on The Hotfix.net would likely harm your computer and put you “out of support from Microsoft” because it is not an official Microsoft package. “You would be well advised to stay clear of this fake SP3 package,” Brannigan wrote. “It is not suitable for testing as it is NOT SP3. …Anyone who installs this thinking they are getting SP3 (even as a preview) is being grossly mislead and is posing a significant potentially non-recoverable risk to their PC and data.”

Ethan Allen, the creator and administrator of The Hotfix, asserts that though the version of Windows XP SP3 provided on his site is not necessarily the official version, it is a reasonable preview of what will appear when the official service pack is released. “Our pack is indeed a preview to what the official service pack will be, as these hotfixes will be in Service Pack 3 as proven by Microsoft’s own knowledge base,” according to a post by Allen on TheHotfix.net. “Each of these hotfixes can be obtained for free from Microsoft by calling their support lines.”

Allen also wrote that while there is a possibility the SP3 on his site will make a user’s machine less stable, it is not the fault of The Hotfix, because the software came from Microsoft, not the site itself. Duh. And yet, Allen is criticized for providing the software. You, the hapless consumer, must wonder where you fit into this picture. Should you try any of these fixes, or wait until Microsoft blesses them… more than a year from now?

The HotFix.net site has since posted the following message:

All hotfix downloads are linked directly to Microsoft. These are 100% official downloads. None of these are promised to be in SP3.

Good luck figuring that out.

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