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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Safer 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
  5. Improved 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 Center, which provides a central location for information about the security of your computer, and Windows Installer, which provides more security options for software installation 
  6. 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 operating system.
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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 wizard also.
  10. 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.
  11. Internet explorer. (Browsing the web)  Many enhancements here: security, better download handling, better JavaScript support, better add on support (browser helpers, toolbars, etc.), better internet zone & security management.
  12. 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 or 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