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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

Upgraded Outlook Express Security

Outlook Express receives a minor security upgrade. By default, images are now disabled in HTML emails to prevent code potentially hidden in these images from causing your computer to communicate with malicious or spam-spreading servers over the web. A plain text mode has been added for viewing mail.

'Under the hood' a few things have changed also. Support for DEP (Data Execution Prevention) has been added. This technology looks to prevent the execution of malicious code in unexpected areas of the memory by allowing operations only in 'approved' areas of memory.

Hardware DEP will work with compatible processors (the new generation of 64-bit processors from AMD and Intel mostly) and will protect the entire memory space, while software DEP works with all systems and protects the operation of certain system files only. This change will mean more to programmers than users, but could have interesting ramifications down the road.

Of course, this list is just the most significant of the many, many changes made to the OS in Windows XP Service Pack 2. For the full list, check out this page on Microsoft's website.

Installation

While you might not notice it if you use the Windows XP automatic update service to download and install Service Pack 2, this is one large chunk of code. The actual service pack file (intended for IT staff who need to update many computers over a network) measures out at a hefty 266MB. To actually install the update, you will need around 800MB of space.

The installation process is automated, as you would expect. No input is required from the user at this point. After you have installed the new service pack and rebooted, the fun begins...

The first thing you will see once you have installed and restarted is a notification screen advising you to turn on automatic updating. This feature has been around in XP for a while, and will download and install updates and patches as they are released, only prompting you to restart your system should it be necessary. This is not a vital setting provided you are conscious about updating your system regularly.

After this your system should boot normally into Windows XP. The new Security center application will scan your PC for firewall and anti-virus protection during this first boot. If either is missing, it will take steps to correct this. In the case of a firewall not being present, the XP firewall will be enabled automatically. If you have no anti-virus software installed, XP will alert you to this with an icon and advise you to obtain some.

PCSTATS

We installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 on a newly configured system that was using the latest version of Zonealarm as a firewall but had no anti-virus software installed at the time. The security center picked up on both of these, showing that our PC was firewall protected (but not activating the XP firewall since Zonealarm was already enabled), and that it lacked anti-virus protection. Very nice, and very good for novice users...

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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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