updated 8/17/2004 5:55:25 PM ET 2004-08-17T21:55:25

Microsoft Corp. has delayed automated distribution of a major security upgrade to its Windows XP operating system, citing a desire to give companies more time to test it.

The update, dubbed Service Pack 2, won't be available to companies that use Windows XP Professional until at least Aug. 25, Windows product manager John Murchinson said Tuesday. The rollout had been scheduled for Aug. 16.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Microsoft has told companies it's important to test the update before deploying it throughout their networks, Murchinson said. Earlier, the company released a list of about 50 games and other software found to have problems working with SP2.

"We've gotten some feedback that some corporate customers need additional time to complete that additional testing," Murchinson said.

Large companies that use Microsoft's patch management service, in which a company's computer staff distributes such updates for its employees, got the update on Monday as scheduled. The delay affects distribution through an automatic update service, in which individual computers are set to obtain such updates directly from Microsoft.

People running Windows XP Home Edition will start getting the update on Wednesday if their computers are set to receive automatic updates, Murchinson said.

Microsoft released SP2 to manufacturers on Aug. 6 after several delays .

Perhaps the biggest change with SP2 will be a host of new alerts the user will suddenly get, offering more detailed information about what programs are trying to contact the computer and giving the user more chances to accept or decline.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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