Installed XP SP2 (click here to find the download, but install at your own risk) on my Vaio R505 home machine last night. Aside from the fact that it took about 35 minutes from the time I double-clicked the package to the time I restarted, there are no real adverse effects that I have noticed. During the boot-up from the restart following installation, you do get sent into a wizard that prompts you to turn on Automatic Updates (or not) before the first SP2 boot cycle can even complete. What is interesting to me is that I already had Automatic Updates turned on in SP1, but apparently Microsoft wants to make a big deal out of the whole Automatic Updates feature because my previous choice certainly did not translate through.
I am running the free year of Computer Associates EZ Armor (click here for the link to the 12 month promo), so I did not get any of the pop-ups from Windows regarding my virus detection or firewall.
Checking in the network adapter settings, the Windows firewall is activated across all adapters for almost every available check box. I do know that when I installed the latest version of SecureClient from Checkpoint last week on my work machine it prompted me with a dialog box to deactivate the Windows firewall; I haven't tried installing the latest version at home, so I'm not sure what will happen will SP2.
Just to verify what I had heard, I tried re-installing AdAware. AdAware is not digitally signed and SP2 is not especially friendly to unsigned application installs.
Internet Explorer is very beefed up. One of the obvious major additions is the pop-up blocker that is now integrated into the software. I still had Google toolbar installed when I booted IE, and I neglected to see if the Toolbar counter was registering blocked pop-ups or if IE was blocking them before the Toolbar even had a chance to notice they existed. One major thing that I did notice: I have been using the "New Window" tag on some of the links on this blog and IE very effectively blocks them so all links on this blog moving forward will open in your default window unless you right-click and designate an alternate opening path -- definitely want the blog to be SP2 friendly.
There seems to be major improvement in the Wireless Network Connection interface. Right-clicking on the wireless icon in the tray brings up a much more user friendly interface for selecting wireless networks to connect to and generally configuring wireless networking settings. If you may remember my previous post regarding Windows XP and WiFi, there was a documented problem with Windows XP SP1 and WiFi and SP2 was supposed to correct the problem listed in my post. I have not been able to verify if the problem has been fixed through my own extensive use, but there does seem to be better latency with a Linksys access point with which I used to have horrible problems (of course my Sony is not Centrino-powered so it is using a separate wireless card meaning that I can disqualify the Centrino-certified access point problems right off the bat).
All in all there seems to be no negative impact on the home machine. The IT department at work plans on testing SP2 for at least a month, so I won't be able to provide tons of hands-on feedback from my daily work. The one thing that I do find interesting about SP2 is how Microsoft packaged the SP2 upgrade with the major TabletPC upgrade (more details about the Tablet PC upgrade here). The SP2 file is about 250MB, which is a hell of a download for someone on dial-up and I do have to wonder how much of that overhead isn't even used when installing on a non-Tablet PC.