Although Microsoft's pumped considerable resources into the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), even that security-conscious update won't block every exploit or prevent future vulnerabilities, a company executive acknowledged.
"There is no silver bullet," said Will Poole, the senior vice president of the Windows Client group. "We think that the work we're doing [with SP2] will be a tremendous advance, and we're going to encourage all of our customers to update their software as quickly as possible. But again, it's a step on the journey."
Poole characterized security as "at the forefront of our efforts" for years, but that for his division, it came to a head in 2004 as attacks mounted on desktops armed with Windows. Poole spoke Thursday at Microsoft's annual analyst meeting.
Security problems are ongoing, Poole said, in part because of a new aggressiveness among hackers, who are using multiple methods to infect systems, ranging from manipulating vulnerabilities to infiltrating Web servers.
"We've been doing everything we can do to update our software, to fix vulnerabilities when we find them, for us to look at them and take care of the highest-priority ones, get them out to our enterprise customers, put them on Windows Update for our consumer and small-business customers," said Poole.