Windows XP SP 2, Microsoft CRM Conflicts Revealed
Users of Microsoft CRM who want to install the new Windows XP Service Pack 2 should expect to encounter a range of issues
Last week, Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), a product update some analysts have called the software giant’s most important deliverable ever. Like all Microsoft service pack releases, SP2 delivers a healthy dose of bug fixes, but its biggest selling point is without a doubt the back-to-basics security overhaul it gives the Windows XP operating system.
There’s just one problem, however: Microsoft has said that SP2’s significantly enhanced security model could break compatibility with some applications, especially software from third-party vendors.
Better include Microsoft applications in that list of incompatibilities: Several users of Microsoft Business Solutions’ (MBS) CRM suite have expressed reservations about pulling the trigger on an SP2 upgrade because of interoperability problems between CRM and the software giant’s newly minted service pack release.
“OK, so am I understanding this correctly? If the server is running on Windows 2000 and the clients have XP and then install SP2, some of the [Web browser] functions will no longer work. Correct? So we have to update the server and the client with the fixes I have read about,” wrote one contributor to Microsoft’s Microsoft.public.crm USENET group.
To be fair, MBS provided CRM customers with advance notice about potential problems. The software giant had, for example, long maintained that its CRM 1.0 product would not work with SP2, and instead advised users to upgrade to CRM 1.2. Furthermore, some time before it delivered SP2, Microsoft told CRM 1.2 customers the update could cause problems.
“I have a client that just got an e-mail message from [Microsoft] Business Solutions group telling them not to load the SP2 upgrade or it will break the [existing] CRM load,” wrote one USENET poster more than a week before Microsoft made the SP2 download available to IT administrators.
What’s more, some users also reported issues with CRM 1.2 after testing it with the SP2 release candidate as far back as April.
“I’ve installed CRM 1.2 to [evaluate it] and the [Windows XP SP2 release candidate 1 and a] test PC cannot get past the first page, the window hangs,” explained one user. “Other machines are fine, so I’m guessing it’s one of the new COM, RPC or other security ‘fixes’ in XP SP2 that’s bust[ed] it.”
To Microsoft’s credit, the company provided an SP2-friendly update for CRM 1.2 well in advance of the availability of that service pack release (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=95ed89d0-8b99-4458-b798-90ad5400923e&DisplayLang=en). While this should work for the majority of users, several have expressed misgivings about the software giant’s proposed workaround.
“With the announcement that XP SP2 is unsupported with MSCRM 1.0, this presents us with a problem: Many of our users are supported locally by university systems and have no control over their OS requirements. They therefore will be forced to implement XP SP2 at which time out MSCRM 1.0 system will no longer work,” wrote one user last week.
An upgrade to CRM 1.2 for this user and others—while possible—wasn’t exactly in the cards. That’s because Microsoft has said it will introduce a substantially improved CRM 2.0 offering next year. As a result, many CRM 1.0 shops have put off upgrading until the CRM 2.0 timeframe. Given the importance of SP2, however, these CRM 1.0 hold-outs may be forced to accelerate their schedules.
Even users who plan to skip the crucial SP2 release could encounter problems. That’s because the SP2 update will be available via Windows XP’s Automatic Updates feature, which downloads crucial security updates in the background and then prompts a user to install them. It’s conceivable, some CRM administrators speculate, that more than a few users will do just that.
“Will SP2 be presented as a Automatic Download, that an unsuspecting user might click on and therefore break their CRM?” asked one user.
To help these users, Microsoft has made available a pair of tools to prevent Windows XP client machines from automatically downloading SP2 at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/maintain/sp2aumng.mspx
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.