Microsoft have finally sent Windows XP SP2 off for disc manufacturers. The update, the biggest ever security fix to Windows, has been hotly awaited by many. Not least black-hat hackers who will be pouring over the code to see what vulnerabilities it has fixed.
SP2 has been described by analysts as much more than just a series of bug fixes, and has been likened to an upgrade to Windows.
‘Service Pack 2 is a significant step in delivering on our goal to help customers make their PCs better isolated and more resilient in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks,’ said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft.
‘It is the result of sustained investments in innovation and extensive industry collaboration. It also reflects a broad recognition that as the security environment changes, the industry needs to work together to respond,’ he said.
The update includes an improved firewall, one that is actually switched on by default this time. Other enhancements include a long overdue popup blocker for Internet Explorer and better e-mail security.
The service pack was originally planned to be released in June, but further enhancements were needed. Microsoft is keen to get it completely right this time. Available as a free CD, the update will also be available for download – though dial up users may shrink from terror at its vast 90mb bulk. To alleviate this, Microsoft are encouraging users to switch on automatic updates in Windows, so that the fixes can be downloaded in smaller chunks.
The pack will be released in English first, with 25 other languages on their way shortly.