As you read this, Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) has been generally available for about 24 hours. SP2 has been in the hands of Premier customers since Monday, so by now, they'll likely have reported any obvious problems or major flaws. Here's how Microsoft describes SP2:
"SP2 is a well-tested collection of updates that focuses on a variety of customer-reported concerns with the Windows 2000 operating system. The Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 incorporates customer feedback and enables continuous product improvement."
You can download the 101MB service pack here and, as usual, if you don't have a high-bandwidth connection, you can order a CD-ROM. The same service pack runs on all versions of Win2K Server and Professional, including Datacenter, although Datacenter customers must get the service pack from their Datacenter OEM. You should also be able to do an Express installation of SP2, which downloads only the necessary files to your computer (23MB for Server and Advanced Server, 10MB or so for Professional). If you have more than one system to upgrade, download the full installation and upgrade your systems from a network share.)
I've already installed SP2 on two Win2K Pro systems. One is my primary workstation; it has dozens of applications installed plus a variety of storage devices and connections for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and cameras. So far, everything continues to work properly, and I haven't noticed any behavior or performance changes. Paul Thurrott, in WinInfo Daily UPDATE, has reported that the service pack will install only with 128-bit encryption, but because all my systems are already set up that way, I wasn't able to see whether that was true.
The second Win2K Pro system I updated has a couple of applications that have been known to cause problems in the past: Adaptec EZ-CD Creator and Real Audio Realplayer. Both applications have continued to work correctly (even though Windows Media Player 7—WMP7—is installed on the same machine), and I've been able to burn CD-ROMs and play back Real media content just as I did before the service pack update.
My USB satellite modem continues to work correctly, as well, though I was concerned because I had heard that the DirecPC software was sensitive to system changes. This sensitivity was one of the reasons I installed the service pack with the uninstall option. If you're short of disk space on your system partition, this solution might not be an option for you because the uninstall folder takes more than 140MB of disk space.
In short, SP2 looks like a stable system upgrade. And although I'm rarely supportive of gratuitous system changes, keeping your system updated to the current service pack level usually makes good sense. I don't think you'll see applications in the future that require Win2K SP2 as the base level of the OS installation, but the collection of all the fixes and user updates that SP2 represents should probably be your standard level of Win2K updates.