Windows XP service pack 2: Majorupgrade is not for everyone
3 September 2004, WASHINGTON - Windows XP Service Pack 2 is the first major upgrade to the world's most popular operating system in well over a year. It's available now for free to any registered user of XP, but despite Service Pack 2's enticing features, some would be well advised to think carefully before applying the patch. The update provides a host of new features that put it more in the league of a new release of the Windows operating system than a simple bug fix. And so far, many early adopters are
3 September 2004
WASHINGTON - Windows XP Service Pack 2 is the first major upgrade to the world's most popular operating system in well over a year. It's available now for free to any registered user of XP, but despite Service Pack 2's enticing features, some would be well advised to think carefully before applying the patch.
The update provides a host of new features that put it more in the league of a new release of the Windows operating system than a simple bug fix. And so far, many early adopters are enthusiastic.
"Installation was a snap," Margaret Sleep, an Information Technology talent scout in Washington, D.C., told the German Press Agency dpa. "Just a couple of button clicks, and I was there."
But Sleep is holding back on installing the service pack on the computers of her technology business, since any incompatibilities could harm productivity. Microsoft itself has warned corporate users that some custom applications may not run properly under the upgraded XP.
"I've learned from the past that you tread very carefully with these large updates," Sleep added.
She's not alone. Many businesses and educational institutions are currently performing their own evaluations of the service pack, wary of how a large-scale deployment could interfere with existing systems.
Microsoft, for its part, has already tested the service pack extensively, yet the software maker acknowledges that there will likely be incompatibilities with some of the wide range of applications on the market today. Already officially identified are some 50 programs that may be incompatible with XP 2, including games, e-mail clients, and antivirus programs. You can download a compatibility guide from Microsoft for free (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9300becf-2 dee-4772-add9-ad0eaf89c4a7&displaylang=en)
Yet the banner features of service pack 2 are likely compelling enough for home users to look at the upgrade as enticing.
--- Improved firewall
Service pack 2, above all, addresses computer users' number one concern these days: security. Spearheading that focus is a beefed-up firewall that, by default, is turned on and protects users connected to a network against possible attacks. The firewall even offers protection while the computer is booting when connected to a network, something that the previous firewall in the standard Windows XP did not offer.
Using the firewall is simple. When a malicious application attempts to connect your computer, the firewall will pop-up a message identifying the application and ask you whether to keep blocking it or allow access.
--- Improved Internet Explorer
With XP 2, you can finally get rid of your third-party pop-up blocker, thanks to a built-in pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer. You'll be able to configure exactly how Internet Explorer blocks pop-ups by using the Privacy tab in the Internet Options dialog box, available either from Internet Explorer itself or from the Windows Control Panel.
But blocking pop-ups is by no means the only new trick that Explorer knows. In keeping with the security theme, Microsoft has taken lots of measures to plug the holes that hackers and virus makers have exploited in Internet Explorer over the past months to make Windows itself a much less secure operating system than it should be.
A new add-in manager, too, gives users more control over Internet Explorer. Too often in the past, applications have installed Internet Explorer "add-ins" - applications that run whenever Internet Explorer is started - without the user's knowledge. The add-in manager gives you an easy way to know exactly what is started whenever Internet Explorer runs. You can disable or enable any add-in.
--- Security Centre
To make using the many new security features in Windows XP a breeze, Microsoft has introduced Security Centre in service pack 2. Security Centre is an applet available from the Windows Control Panel.
Within Security Centre, you'll get an easy overview of exactly which security features are running - including the firewall, virus protection, and automatic updates. Even though Microsoft itself does not create or include antivirus software within Windows XP, the Security Centre is supposed to be able to monitor the presence of third-party antivirus software. Whether this actually works will depend in part upon whether the third-party manufacturers have implemented the new code necessary to make their applications "visible" to Security Centre.
--- Little things mean a lot
There are many little improvements in service pack 2, including hundreds of bug fixes.
A new wireless networking wizard makes setting up wireless networks easier than before. Wireless networking has taken off around the world, so this feature should go some way toward making wireless easy to set up for home users.
Thankfully, the Windows Messenger instant messaging service is now turned off by default. Its presence in the Taskbar of Windows XP was an annoyance to those who never used it, and it presented yet another opportunity for hackers to exploit the system.
You'll probably also notice other little improvements throughout, including a cleaner look to the Add/Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel.
Given that the update is free, it makes sense for home users especially to try the upgrade. As always, create a full backup of your existing computer before performing the update. You can always undo the upgrade using the Add/Remove Programs option in the Control Panel.
Corporate users may wish to wait. Particularly those with custom applications developed by their firms will need to check with their company's information technology department before implementing service pack 2. Download XP service pack 2 directly from Microsoft ( http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/maintain/winx psp2.mspx#XSLTdivision120120124121120120).
Subject: German news