Security Pipeline obtained access to the first widespread beta of Microsoft's forthcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) during the holidays. Microsoft has said that this beta represents a subset of what will be released when this software is finalized sometime during the first half of 2004.
We tested the new software on a couple of test machines, and found it to be very reliable during a couple of days of use. It's not recommended that you install this beta in a production environment, however.
Unlike many Windows service packs, this one adds new functionality. There are four main areas where Microsoft has made user interface changes. They are:
1. Automatic Updates
2. Windows Firewall (previously known as Internet Connection Firewall, or ICF).