Update: Windows XP Service Pack 2 Details

Windows & .NET Magazine report that Microsoft have given some details about their next Windows XP update, called Service Pack 2 (SP2), which is due in the first half of 2004. Some important changes:
  • XP SP2 will ship with all XP security features enabled by default, meaning that the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) will be on, and the Windows Messenger service will be off.
  • The company is also reducing XP’s susceptibility to buffer-overrun errors, which worms and viruses commonly exploit, by adding support for new code execution features available on newer Intel and AMD processors.
  • Finally, Microsoft is enabling the automatic download and installation of critical security hotfixes on XP SP2, ensuring that users’ systems are always protected.
These are all welcome, apart from the firewall, which I found to be slow and memory-hungry. Also I have some reservations about the automatic update of security fixes — some of these are big, too big for dial-up. Unless Microsoft is really careful at limiting their size, and ensuring that ‘critical’ doesn’t include every bit of update they throw out, folk with slow connections are not going to be happy.