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Windows XP Service Pack 2 Beta Nearing Release

Microsoft is working out the kinks in its Windows XP 2 Service Pack, and won't ship the final version until mid-2004 according to Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's Security Business Unit, during a Webcast Tuesday.

"The product's complete set of features are still things we're working on in terms of the user interface and a lot of feedback we're looking to get from customers," said Nash. "We're gearing this toward enterprise IT pro customers and developers of course, and our intent is not to do a broad beta yet."

Microsoft has about 2,000 internal users testing the Windows XP Service Pack 2, said Nash. A beta version will be available this month to developers and MSDN subscribers.

Service Pack 2 security enhancements focus on four areas: port-based attacks in which a person runs malicious code on systems, malicious attacks via e-mail attachment, malicious web content, and buffer overrun attacks, said Nash. A major enhancement to the Service Pack, called the Windows Firewall, will block data or malicious code in e-mail and instant messenger (IM) attachments. All ports are now closed by default in Windows Firewall. Administrators centrally control and decide which ports can be opened by which applications. Administrators also can decide which applications can access the Internet through the firewall.

"We are giving more control to the customer," said Nash. "With our past firewall, customers told us the problem was it stopped too many things and they had to turn it off."

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