Microsoft has given in to its users' demands over SP2 and has doubled the time that a special registry key will prevent PCs from automatically downloading and installing the mammoth update.

The company had already launched a tool that allowed users to set a Windows registry key that instructed the system to skip downloading and installing SP2 for 120 days. Microsoft has now doubled that period to 240 days, and the blocking mechanism will now prevent Automatic Updates (AU) and Windows Update (WU) from delivering SP2 to Windows computers until 12 April 2005.

The extension is Microsoft's latest move to help users deal with SP2. The software maker earlier postponed automatic distribution of the service pack to PCs running Windows XP Professional Edition so users had more time to install the blocking mechanism. Microsoft has also published many documents detailing the changes SP2 makes to Windows XP and potential application compatibility problems.

Microsoft had labelled SP2 a "critical" update and urged all Windows XP users to install it as soon as possible, however there were initially some problems with the update The software maker expects about 100 million PCs to be updated by October via Automatic Updates alone.