Windows XP Service Pack 2 Remains On Schedule

Microsoft plans a broader distribution of the beta of its Windows XP Service Pack 2 and remains on schedule for shipping final code in the first half of this year

March 17, 2004

3 Min Read
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Microsoft plans a broader distribution of the beta of its Windows XP Service Pack 2 and remains on schedule for shipping final code in the first half of this year -- but has pushed back the release of its Software Update Services 2.0 until the second half of 2004.

The progress report was issued Tuesday by Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Security Business and Technology Unit, during his monthly Webcast on security matters.

Nash said he and a select number of developers have been working since November on the new security features of Windows XP Service Pack 2. Soon a "broader" number of testers will have access to the beta. "Not everyone can get [the beta version]," said Nash, acknowledging growing customer demand to test in-house the Windows XP security update. "Over time, we're broadening the beta -- and very shortly."

Nash added, however, that while the Windows XP SP 2 remain on track to ship during the first half of 2004, SUS 2.0 -- which has been renamed Windows Update Services --won't reach the market until the second half of 2004. The first beta version of Windows Update Services was announced and released at the Microsoft Management Summit 2004 also on Tuesday.

An official Microsoft slide presented during Nash's briefing showed that SUS 2.0, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 and Microsoft Update hosted patch management software will be available in the second half of 2004. Last October, Microsoft had promised SUS 2.0 would ship by May of 2004.Nash said Microsoft is officially sticking to a ship date in the first half of the year for the Windows XP Service Pack 2. He noted that corporate customers and partners will be able to get the beta from their account representative or through MSDN and TechNet Plus in the "near future.

Windows XP SP 2 is considered by many to be much more than a service pack. Nash demonstrated new security features in SP2, including pop-up windows that alert users when their computer is at risk of virus, a new feature called the Windows Security Center that verifies update and firewall information, a pop-up blocker and a "gold bar" that shows when a pop-up window has been blocked.

He and other Microsoft executives said Windows XP SP2 is designed for systems "on the edge," such as laptop PCs and remote PCs connecting in an out of the network.

Microsoft is working simultaneously on host security technologies that will add a new layer of protection for host clients and servers, including anti-virus, host intrusion detection and vulnerability detection tools, said Eric Lockard, general manager of Microsoft's Host Security Technologies, Microsoft Security Business and Technology Unit.

For instance, Microsoft is working on active protection technologies such as intrusion prevention and behavior blockers to derail worms and viruses at different stages of their life cycle, executives noted.Additionally, Microsoft plans to ship in 2005 the Exchange Edge Services, a new SMTP filter that will offer additional extended e-mail protection against spam and viruses at the edge of the network, Nash said. He added that Visual Studio 2005 will give developers better tools for building more secure applications and web services.

Finally, the Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) code, formerly known as the Palladium project, will provide a new level of Windows hardening against viruses and worms, said Nash.

Article appears courtesy of CRN.

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