For those who can wait SP2 will be mounted on the CDs of these magazines in November: PC Pro, Computer Buyer and 3rd issue of Custom PC. I am sure PCA has similar plans ahead also although this has not been confrimed. Hope this info is useful to some.
From a reputational point of view, surely it is in Microsoft's best interests for all XP users to install SP2 as soon as possible by whatever means. Obviously it would be preferable for honorable PC mags to distribute it rather than risk corrupt versions from dubious sources. Surely it will put a lot of pressure on MS servers for downloads and sending out CD's free will put a huge pressure on resources and costs.
I hope Microsoft aren't planning to release a service pack 3 anytime in the near future, I think the excitement would be too much to bear. anyway, must dash - having some mates round for a few beers and a security patch downloading party. Only kidding ;-)
Speculation re. PC Advisor or cover disks in general? Personally speaking, I will wait till it is mounted on a cover disk and buy the first mag that has it unless it is PC Pro which I am subscribed to.