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Windows XP Service Pack 2

8 August 2004 19:05 UTC
It's 475 MB [sic] - what does it do?

The release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 is imminent.

It's been posted to the MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) site.

And it's a monster - 475 MB. What does it contain?

In short brush strokes, the following.

  • 'Windows Security Center'.
  • Firewall turned on by default.
  • Internet Explorer gets a (minimal) popup blocker.
  • Better handling of email attachments.
  • Protection against exploits through buffer overruns.

Windows Security Center checks the status of your firewall and A/V software and checks for new Windows updates. The firewall could have been turned on with previous versions of Windows; now it's just on by default. Having even a minimal popup blocker for Internet Explorer (doesn't do anything fancy like handling flash stuff) is a light year leap for that decrepit browser. Avoiding pitfalls with email attachments (presumably in Outlook) is long awaited.

How Microsoft claim to deal with buffer overrun exploits is unclear. Other platforms have long had specific methods to prevent code execution on the stack, but what Microsoft are up to, if anything, will take some time to reveal.

Things were getting a bit embarrassing for the Redmond giant - as if they could ever get worse - when the release was pushed back time and again. (It originally was supposed to come out last year.) For dial-up users downloading won't be much of an idea, despite Microsoft's assurances their update system can carry on a huge download like this over a great period of time.

The service pack will be incorporated into mainstream XP by October with XP users able to purchase a CD with the monster patch around then.

See Also
High Hopes
Service Pack 3

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