Meanwhile, classes at George Mason start the week of August 30, and university officials are still debating whether to block students from installing the upgrade. For the time being, Catholic University in Washington, D.C., has decided to block downloads of SP2, according to chief information officer Zia Mafaher.
A hundred miles to the south, officials at the University of Richmond made the same decision.
_____On The Web_____
Windows Update Site: The SP2 download is available from Microsoft's Web site.
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___Tech Policy/Security E-letter___ Written by washingtonpost.com's tech policy team, the e-mail version of this weekly feature includes an original news article and links to policy and cyber-security stories from the previous week.
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"Microsoft's timing really couldn't have been worse for us," said Chris Faigle, a security administrator at the school, where classes start today. "For the faculty and students, we simply won't be able to handle all of the additional issues that would almost certainly come up in addition to just getting the students registered on the network."
Other schools across the country are taking similar action. The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., for example, will bar its 10,000 students from installing SP2 until it finishes testing the program on its network, said Gary Dobbins, the school's director of information. "[We] didn't want SP2 to land on machines here at the same time the students descend on the campus."
The University of Michigan's medical school is blocking campus computers from automatically downloading the Microsoft update, choosing instead to deploy the fix using its own internal computer servers.
"Our primary concern is the impact this will have on our network and the length of time it would take to get from Microsoft directly," said Damon Palyka, a computer security technician at the school.
A number of schools that have built systems to register computers on their network plan to periodically probe student PCs to ensure they contain the latest antivirus updates and Microsoft security patches.
But SP2 can interfere with those automatic inspections since it turns on the Windows firewall, said Jack Suess, chief information officer at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. So UMBC plans to bar computers owned by its 4,000 students from automatically downloading the update until the school is ready to roll out its own tweaks.
"We estimate that between 5 to 10 percent of the student population will have pretty serious problems after installing this update and will require help from us," Suess said. "Add that to inquiries from faculty and staff and allowing this go forward at move-in time could be a real challenge."
Microsoft had already delayed a scheduled July release of SP2 so it could fix several other kinks in the upgrade. The company did not want to push the release date back again because of the chance that another severe Internet attack could occur in the meantime, said Matt Pilla, Microsoft's senior product manager for Windows.