Call windows XP Service Pak 2 the
on of the most involving projects that Microsoft
has ever undertaken in its history.
The initial release date for SP2
slated June 2004 was moved twice with Release
Candidates filling the gaps in between. Most of
the glitches it ran into were due to
compatibility issues with third party and
Microsoft's own software's. An extensive list of
applications that "totally don't work" and "some
work partially" with SP2 is now posted on
Service Pack is a collection of
all security patches issued after the initial
release of an Operating System. Apart from
fixing the holes, they may also upgrade existing
programs, add more functionality or change the
way OS works in short. You can get SP2 as a
whooping 266MB single package or use Windows
Update to get it in increments (recommended for
At first, the setup asks you to
backup before proceeding and inspects your
configuration during installation. It takes
approximately half an hour to install and once
completed, you can confirm the new status by
checking System Properties. There was no visible
change or warnings under Device Manager.
You won't notice any dramatic
visual changes because there aren't any. It's a
new OS; most of the changes update the system
(kernel) files and not the GIU.
This is what you get with SP2 in
Security Center in Control Panel.
Improved secure Internet
Improved Windows Firewall (now on
No Execute (NX) technology.
Updated Bluetooth support (MS
Bluetooth Client 2.0).
Wireless Network Setup Wizard.
Changes to Outlook Express.
Updates (Media Player 10, Movie
Maker 2.1, DirectX 10).
The Security Center is a whole
new way of alerting and protecting you. Added as
an icon in the Control Panel it shows the status
of your Firewall, Automatic Updates and Virus
Protection from a single panel.
IE finally gets a long due pop-up
blocker and still no tabbed browsing, something
which comes by default in Opera, Mozilla and
Firefox. The security settings have been pretty
beefed-up though in the default settings. On
trying to run an application from the web? IE
blocks all ActiveX components by default. It
then asks whether to proceed with the
installation or not. A cream information bar
appears just below the address bar flashing a
warning. To over-ride this, click on the bar to
IE also gets an Add-on Manager
which displays all the plug-ins, toolbars and
ActiveX components installed. To access it,
click Manage Add-ons under Tools drop list from
the Menu Bar.
The new Windows Firewall
(previously known as the Internet Connection
Firewall) is improved but does not match likes
of Zone Alarm, Norton and other commercial
firewalls. By default, the ports, not in use,
are shut and traffic on the ones that are open,
can be monitored for abnormal activity.
Also Windows Firewall starts as
soon as you boot your PC even before you are
prompted for a password--something that was
surely lacking before. One thing to note is that
Windows Firewall gives you inbound protection
but can't stop your system from transmitting
data to the Internet (outbound) and possible
help in spreading worms!
The rest of the updates install
newer versions of Windows applications such as
Media Player, Movie Maker and DirectX all of
which are available as separate downloads as
Banks, mission critical centers
and organizations running custom software must
first try out SP2 on a pilot project for
simulation purposes. If all goes well only then
deploy it at large. If you are a home user, what
are you waiting for? Go get it, turn on
Automatic Update or visit the Windows Update
Site to download on installment. Corporate users
include institutions must get the network
package (266MB) and use it to install on