posted by Roberto J. Dohnert on Tue 8th Jun 2004 18:04 UTC
IconMy normal policy is not to review beta releases of any software. But because Windows XP SP2 is so important I decided to break away from the norm. Readers should be aware that a release candidate is not a final release and this in should no way be construed as a review of the final product.

Click for a larger view Microsoft has made great strides in improving the user experience and to help protect from the worms and viruses that inhabit the net. From the most part I have had no problems with this service pack besides a couple of annoyances that accompany beta software.

Installation

This is nothing unusual about the installation, it is the average Service Pack installer script. But the RC1 installer will not let you choose not to archive the files because before you install the final build you will have to uninstall the beta build. There was no unusual occurences during the install and of course after you install you will have to restart the machine.

Security Center

Click for a larger view The neatest part of SP2 is the new security center. This feature adds a friendly user interface to the normal security components of Windows, Automatic Updates, Anti-Virus and Firewall. Some Anti-Virus programs like the one that yours truly has, are not picked up by the security center. To increase your chances of Microsoft including your Anti-Virus program notify Microsoft about this and they should include support in the final release. Updates are a necessary evil in all Operating Systems so this should be turned on anyway whether you use Linux, Windows, Solaris, JDS whatever you use make sure you have the updates. From the security center you can also enable your IE internet zones and also take advantage of the firewall configuration utility and manage the security settings for the system. There are some improvements that can be made to the Security Center. I think they need to add a shortcut to the Security Center to the My Computer Taskpane or add a short cut to the cointext right click menu of My Computer to make it more accessible to users. I also had no weird experiences with the Security Center.

The New Windows Firewall

Click for a larger view The new firewall is much improved and actually works like a firewall now. It includes a neat little configuration utility. The firewall is shipped turned on and it allows you to allow access for programs and other incoming and outgoing traffic. It finally acts like a real firewall should instead of acting like it knows whats better for you. You can also choose exceptions for the firewall, exceptions are basically Firewall Rules. You can enable programs to access the internet and if you change you mind later, remove them from the exceptions list. I did have a problem with the firewall, it will sometimes ask you if you want to unblock a program and if you take awhile to answer the dialog it will go ahead and allow access for the program anyway. Microsoft needs to change this behavior really quickly and make the dialog box WAIT for an answer before automatically assuming the answer is a yes. My suggestion is that if you decide to run the Release Candidate use another software firewall alongside the Windows firewall. On one of my test machines tho I have run the Firewall by itself for over 2 weeks and have not had a compromise and on that specific machine I was getting a lot of TCP port scans before SP2 and they have since ceased.

Table of contents
  1. "WinXP SP2, Page 1/2"
  2. "WinXP SP2, Page 2/2"
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