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.
From the I Must Be Living in a Parallel Universe Dept, I read with interest of PC Magazine announcement today that it has issued its “Annual Report Card on Service & Reliability Of Major Technology Companies” in which it says that ”consumers are more satisfied with the computer products and peripherals they’re using and the companies behind them this year than in 2002″. That seems unlikely, based on my experience and mailbag, but I did splutter some serious coffee when I read lower down their press release that “Overall, service and reliability has improved, due in large part to the effect of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP”. The release went on to say that ”Windows XP has brought computer users the stability of Microsoft’s corporate operating systems – Windows NT and 2000.” Editor in chief of the magazine, Michael Miller, is quoted as saying: “If an OS performs better, so does the hardware it controls.”
Well, yes, that’s true. But why do I keep having to reboot my XP preloaded notebook because it goes slower than my grandpa’s Vespa? And why do some minimized programs just flash away when I try to switch programs, as if it’s a Dirty Old Man’s convention? And why does the computer spontaneously reboot of its own accord, usually on Monday afternoons or when there’s a half moon? I may be in a minority around here, but my impression with XP is that it’s somewhat better than Windows 98, but it still gives me the shivers. The idea that somehow things are much, much better is just silly.