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Windows XP SP2 also added in a lot of security features which quite heavily modifed the core system. As a result, initially a number of device drivers and software components would not function with this until the manufacturers caught up and released updates and patches. Am not gonna start flaming Microsoft, but generally their code contains a lot more bugs than Linux does, or at least, a lot more apparant bugs, and generally they always have an archive function before applying service packs to quickly restore the system. Guess they know problems are likely to occur and so build a way to restore the system! Only needed it once with Sp2, and once on a Win 2k machine after applying SP4, but their base design structures do seem to differ anyway.
But I still don't understand why there needs to be so much core modification? I have Linux for over two years now and not once did I need to update anything "core". You've got the kernel that needs minor tinkering now and then, but by far, almost virtually all security issues don't change any part of the core.
Almost all Windows upgrade effect the core. Ever wonder why you have to reboot when you install a driver or software? It is because those programs and drivers write over critical OS files (.dll and such).
This is in my opion is the major difference between Windows and UNIX type OS. I honesty do not know why Windows was built like that and I do not know why they still do it. Why would you let someone else write a core part of your OS? There is no control or should I say overwatch of what is being wrote.
Like you said, when you install a driver or program (short of a kernel patch), the driver or program does not write to the heart of the OS. Also I think there is a lot to do with a big company and the amount of people working on the OS. Windows 3.x ran stable. Then MS started to get big and worried more about money than doing the job right. The guys that work in most open source prodject do it with a lot of pride. I believe that they feel their work represents who they are and they take pride in it. Or maybe they are out to prove something. But pride in your work has a lot to do with things being done write. It is mor than just collecting a pay check. I could go on and on.
Can someone please explain to me why the service pack 2 for windows XP recommends backing up the system and take many precautions just in case it does not work?
On my Slackware OS, updating packages and security are all modulized and unless you're recompiling the kernel, the system operation is never compromised. Why is Windows XP different?
You've answered your own question, windows recommends backing data up incase the upgrade doesn't work. Mr Bill Gates is probably covering himself too, if someone turns round and say "I updated my system to service pack2 and then the computer crashed and I lost all my pictures from last Christmas, I'm gonna sue you" then Mr B. Gates can turn round and say "We told you to back your data up first". Of course it doesn't work quite like that, but you get the idea