Deploying XP SP3 to remote workstations, best method

(imported topic written by cemmel91)

We have a significant number of laptops that rarely, if ever come into the office. A portion of them are still running Windows XP SP2, and we would like to get them all up to SP3 in short order. We are now in the process of deciding the best method of doing so. Our options:

  1. Use the BigFix-provided SP3 task to silently deploy SP3 to these machines. In most cases, the machines have a big enough pipe to handle the download, but there is some concern that if a machine reboots as the patch is being installed, it could potentially hose the machine.

  2. Create our own task that installs SP3 in passive mode (no user input, but a GUI that displays status) and make it an offer, allowing our users to choose the best time to install it.

What are your thoughts on these two options? What is the real risk of “hosing” a machine if they reboot during the silent install of SP3? Has anyone had first hand experience with a scenario like this happening? Is the offer option a valid one? If so, how would you recommend going about doing that? What documentation is available for setting up an offer?



(imported comment written by BenKus)

My take on this:

  • Of all patches, my experience is that the OS SPs are the least forgiving for restarts (and can lead to big issues).
  • If you deploy the SPs silently, then sometimes it prompts people to restart (because they aren’t sure what is going on with the activity).

If I were doing this, I would:

  • send the action to all the users to deploy SP2
  • show a message before running AND a message while it is running
  • I would NOT mention the restart in the message (or at least be very careful with the wording)… it is funny that we have had many reports that the users don’t properly read the message boxes, but it they see the word “restart”, then they try to restart their computer, which is exactly what you don’t want
  • I would allow them to postpone the action for awhile
  • I would trigger a restart after the install

Offers would work too and you can see the offer documentation in the BigFix Console guide.