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Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview - PCSTATS
Abstract: Once your PC is updated with Windows XP Service Pack 2 there are a few things you'll need to know about its new features and security options.
Filed under: Operating System Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Microsoft Aug 17 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Operating System > Microsoft Windows XP

Adjusting to Service Pack 2

An extra dialog has been added the install procedure for executable files. If the file is not Windows certified, it will warn the user before beginning the installation of the program. This is similar to the warning that was previously present only on applications that were attempting to install over the Internet.

The add\remove programs application has been tweaked to no longer show updates and patches by default. This results in a less cluttered display of programs, so we like it. A 'show updates' button overrides this if needed.

The automatic update feature will now download more than just 'critical' updates to the operating system. Other items like service packs and driver updates may become part of the process.

We noticed no performance hit during our testing of the new service pack. Booting for the first time after installation took a considerable amount of time, but after this first slowdown, boot times returned to normal.

Another question lingering in our minds was "how would Service Pack 2 affect the computers performance?" To find out, PCSTATS ran a standard 2.4GHz PC through several trials with Bapco's Sysmark 2004. Beginning with a standard Windows XP install, the system was updated to Service Pack 1 and tested, then updated to Service Pack 2 and tested again. As you can see from the results shown below, the impact of Service Pack 2 on a computer's performance is very minor, if not negligible for the most part.

WinXP SP1 SP2
Internet Overall: 178 175 173
3D Creation: 176 173 168
2D Creation: 210 211 210
Web Publication: 168 167 172
Office Overall: 164 160 161
Communication: 172 168 172
Document Creation: 171 170 168
Data Analysis: 158 161 158

Other Service Pack 2 Changes

The single biggest adjustment users are going to face after upgrading to Service Pack 2 is the newly activated firewall. Though Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make the service play nicely with other applications, inevitably it's going to require some configuration, especially if you host or plan to host a web or FTP site. The new firewall's slightly illogical control layout only complicates things.

The best way to get around this potential snag is to be prepared. Know in advance what to expect and what you will need to be able to pass through the firewall and you will be alright. For more background on firewalls and firewall configuration, see PCSTATS' articles here and here, and our section on the new XP firewall earlier in this article.

Microsoft has released a list of programs which have compatibility issues with Service Pack 2. Take a look through here to see if you will be affected by the upgrade.

Other than this, it should be smooth sailing for your PC after the upgrade. Of course, compatibility problems are bound to surface in the next few weeks after the release as millions of users upgrade, but these will no doubt be duly patched.

What if you don’t want Service Pack 2?

For those of you who use Windows XP’s automatic update service, but don’t want to have Service Pack 2 automatically installed for you, Microsoft has made a tool available on their website. This program makes a minor registry alteration which will stop the automatic install of SP2. You can get it here.

Why should you care?

Because Microsoft is finally taking Internet security seriously enough to make it an integral part of their operating system. Previously, using Windows XP safely on the Internet involved supplementing the basic operating system with a number of products and fixes, as detailed in this article. A basic Windows XP box with a broadband connection would be hacked, infected with virus software or infested with spyware within days or hours of connecting. To be fair, the Internet was nowhere near as dangerous an environment when XP was originally released, but Redmond could have seen where things were going.

With the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Microsoft has dramatically reduced the potential vulnerability of millions of Internet connected systems. As they point out in their own documentation, if this pack had been available before the release of the infamous 'blaster' worm, the number of systems infected would have been a fraction of the actual toll.

Of course, this brings up the sore fact that many of these features should have been instituted in XP to begin with, but no matter. Downloading this service pack in combination with a decent virus-scanner provides every XP user with the holy trinity of Internet security: A firewall, anti-virus software and regular updates. And best of all, it requires little effort or prior knowledge. Despite its flaws, this is enough to get a solid thumbs up from us.

If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the PCSTATS Forums. Find out about this and many other reviews by joining the Weekly PCSTATS Newsletter today! Catch all of PCSTATS latest hardware reviews right here.

PCSTATS
-RSS Feed Setup & Subscriptions
- Windows XP Service Pack 2
- Firewall Setup and Configuration
-Eliminating Spyware and Hijacker Software
- Diagnosing Bad Memory
- 101 Tips and Tweaks for WindowsXP
- Burning CDs and DVDs
- Optical Drives & Recording Formats
- Securing Your Wireless Network
- Little Known Features of WindowsXP
- Ergonomics & Computers
- Annual PC Checkup
- Installing WindowsXP
- Encryption and Online Privacy
- Home Networking and File Sharing
- Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods
- Preventing Data Theft from a Stolen Laptop
- Creating a Weblog / Blog
- Installing RAID on Desktop PCs
- RAM, Memory and Upgrading
- Ten Steps to a Secure PC
- Flashing A Motherboard BIOS
- Windows XP Safe Mode Explained
- Upgrading Win98 to Windows XP
- USB Memory Drive Projects
- 104 Great Tech Tips for Windows XP
- Unattended Windows 2000/XP Installations
- Linux Part 2: Installing a PC
- Understanding and Tweaking WindowsXP Services
- Linux Part 3: Installing New Software
- The Registry: Backups, Repairs, and Protection
- Diagnosing Bad Hard Drives
- Decrypting Document & Zipped File Passwords
- Spyware protection and Removal
- Wireless home networking
- Internet Connection Sharing
- Remote Access to Computers
- Hard Drive Data Recovery
- Firewalls and Internet Security
- Back up and Restore Data in WinXP
- Assembling Your Own PC
- VPNs and Internet Connection Security
- Legally Copying Software and Music
- Setting up a FTP Server in WinXP
- Creating MP3 Music Files
- Stopping Spam
- Cloning WindowsXP
- Browser Hijacking and How to Stop It
- Printer Sharing on a Home Network
- Converting Videotape Into Video Files
- Creating a WindowsXP Install CD with Service Pack 2
- Creating a Flashing a Video Card BIOS
- Making DVD Movies from Video Files
- Synchronizing Files and Folders
- Crash Recovery and the Blue Screen of Death
- Most Common Ways to Kill a PC
- WindowsXP Command Prompt
- Linux Part 1: Getting Familiar
- Understanding and Creating Batch Files
- Website Hosting From A Home PC
- Formatting and Partitioning a Hard Drive
- Website Hosting With Apache

< Previous Page © 2017 PCSTATS.com Operating System News»

 

Contents of Article: Microsoft Windows XP
 Pg 1.  Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview
 Pg 2.  A New Firewall for WinXP
 Pg 3.  Upgraded Outlook Express Security
 Pg 4.  Testing the Firewall Coverage
 Pg 5.  Controlling Add-ons in IE
 Pg 6.  Email Protection Increased
 Pg 7.  WindowsXP Service Pack 2 in use - The XP Firewall
 Pg 8.  Programs and the new Firewall
 Pg 9.  Windows Security System
 Pg 10.  Windows XP Service Pack 2 in use
 Pg 11.  — Adjusting to Service Pack 2

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