Microsoft Windows Service pack 2 enhancements
We will all be downloading service pack 2 soon. We are currently running preliminary versions
in our office and feel the need to inform you of some of the changes.
Service pack 2 incorporates numerous changes to the windows
XP operating system. We will outline
some of the major changes below and give you a little background as to why the
changes are being made and what impact they may have.
- Pop up blocker. This change has been available from
yahoo and others for some time now.
Microsoft has now incorporated it into their browser. This should help eliminate annoying
popups and help to limit spyware/adware attacks, it will not eliminate
these things but the urge to click on a popup that purports to be
something valuable or wanted but, in reality is malicious software or has
malicious software attached will be gone. Remember always click the x in
the top corner rather than yes or no, anything in the pop up box is under
the programmers control and the programmers can make no mean yes. Additionally, better user controls and
user interfaces are provided that help prevent malicious ActiveX® controls
and spyware from running on customers’ systems without their knowledge and
consent in this upcoming service pack.
- Improved firewall security program. There has been a firewall in windows XP
previously but it was difficult to configure and was an inbound only
firewall. The new firewall will be
turned on by default unless you have another firewall existing on your
system. Be advised this may cause
some applications to fail. Specific
applications would be peer to peer networking (drive & printer sharing),
pcanywhere, possibly applied systems fax advantage, and other applications. The good new is that it is much easier
to configure for these applications.
- Memory protection. Many of us have heard of buffer
overruns. This is an attempt to
correct these. Many of the windows
patches in the last year have dealt with these types of problems. What a buffer overrun does, is when an
attacker sends too much data to your system and it fills the incoming
buffer space, it overruns into system memory. What has happened previously is that
these would be executed. Now the
memory is being segmented to have data spaces & program spaces and if
data overruns its own space it will no longer be allowed.
e-mail handling. Security technologies help to stop viruses (such as
SoBig.F) that spread through e-mail and instant messaging. These technologies
include default settings that have enhanced security, improved attachment
control. This results in security and reliability enhancements for
communications applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express and
Windows Messenger. As a result, potentially unsafe attachments that are
sent through e-mail and instant messages are isolated so that they cannot
affect other parts of the system
computer maintenance. A very important part of any security plan is
keeping computers updated with the latest software and security updates
and understanding the role they play in protecting your computer. You must
also ensure that you have current knowledge of security attacks and
trends. For example, some software updates that mitigated known viruses and
worms were available days or weeks before any significant attacks began.
New technologies are being added to help the end user stay up-to-date.
These technologies include Security
provides a central location for information about the security of your
computer, and Windows Installer, which provides more security options for
- Bluetooth support. (Wireless
networking) Bluetooth® wireless technology is a low cost, short-range
wireless specification for connecting mobile devices and is available in a
wide variety of devices. Support for Bluetooth wireless technology is
included in Windows XP Service Pack 2. This support was not
previously available directly from Microsoft. It is included now because
customers requested that this technology be added to the core Windows
- Windows media player 9. This has been available for some
time. It is installed by default
with SP2. It contains numerous
security enhancements and various player functionality enhancements.
- Windows messenger update. The little green man in the corner. This allows computer to computer
communication in real time. The
main enhancement here is the blocking of unwanted file transfers. Previously computers could be infected
by programs sent through this interface.
Big for home users especially with children.
- Wireless networking enhancements. These are for your standard wireless
connections (WIFI or 802.11 communications). Easier to use wireless hotspots
(McDonalds & Starbucks for example) and includes a configuration
- Outlook Express. Changes here include fixes for some spam
e-mail, better downloading of files and for better attachment
scanning. Previously spammers could
attach an invisible image to e-mails that would connect to their server
and let them know your email address was valid just by you opening an
e-mail. They would then continue to
use your address or sell it to others.
This was why it was so important not to open spam e-mail. This should help to clean up all our
e-mail inboxes and require less time filtering the garbage. The attachment scanning is a
virus/spyware/adware enhancement to further secure our systems.
- Internet explorer. (Browsing the
web) Many enhancements here:
on support (browser helpers, toolbars, etc.), better internet zone &
- New security center. This incorporates firewall, windows
updates & antivirus settings in one place in the control panel. Also improves windows update programs.
Microsoft has incorporated a great many changes in this
version. This information is still
preliminary and we will send updates as things change or as we get more
information. I have only listed updates
that would apply to most end users.
Programmers or people interested in more in depth information can
contact us directly or go to http://www.microsoft.com
for more info on how these changes could affect them. Our biggest problems to date have been in the
firewall area. The changes in that
section could cause currently running applications to fail as stated
above. We ask that larger sites (5
computers or more) do not update all machines at once. This should allow us to respond timely to any
problems you may have. If you find the
update causes problems at your site please notify us immediately. Most of our customers are set to download the
updates automatically, so they will appear in the system tray. This is a huge update, over 250 Meg in size
as of the last Beta copy we have, it will take dial up modem users a very long
time to download. We would suggest they
contact us so that we can turn off the automatic download and provide the
updates on CD. Larger sites might wish
to turn off automatic download also because they can download the updates once
to a file share or fileserver and load them from there thus decreasing their
internet connection load.
To turn off automatic update for service pack 2 only:
To download the service pack 2 disabler, click the link
below, save to hard disk or network location and then run XPSP2blocker.exe on
any PC’s you wish to disable service pack 2 automatic update on.
Service Pack 2 Disabler