XP SP2's good vibe takes a hit

So much for the honeymoon Microsoft has gotten for Windows XP Service Pack 2. Despite its very public reputation as an application buster, the upgrade has received heaps of good press -- until now.

The positive tone changed somewhat as reports circulated that the security console in SP2 is vulnerable to a spoofing attack. It was a charge that Microsoft didn't take lightly, and it fired back in statements to the media on Wednesday and Thursday.

One Microsoft spokeswoman told SearchSecurity.com that such reports are "misguided."

"Some articles have [been] posted that claim there is a highly critical vulnerability that would allow a malicious user to spoof the Windows Security Center in Windows XP SP2. This claim is not accurate," the spokeswoman said. "To clarify, there is not a vulnerability in the Windows

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Security Center. In order for an attacker to spoof the Windows Security Center, he or she would have to have local administrator rights on the computer."

A free SP2 compatibility guide

Minus the vulnerability flap, XP SP2 continued to dominate technology news this week. Among the highlights was Microsoft's release of a guide on its Download Center site that is designed to help administrators troubleshoot application problems caused by SP2. The release appears to be Microsoft responding to pragmatic administrators who recognize that a release of this magnitude will cause some problems, but want advice on what to watch out for.

Also this week, IT automation software vendor SupportSoft Inc. released a study conducted by research firm InsightExpress that found that 66% of IT managers expect to see a spike in help desk calls after their organizations deploy SP2. Nearly a quarter of respondents predict that the spike will be significant, 41% figure the increase will be marginal and nearly a third have "no idea what to expect." The latter group must be a hoot to have around at budget time. ("I have no idea how much money I'll need next year.")

Microsoft's plain-spoken blogger

Microsoft's evangelist for Visual Studio raised a few eyebrows with his recent candid -- and level-headed -- blog entry about his company's relationship with the open source community.

Josh Ledgard, a program manager, said Redmond has been "downright insulting" in some of its attacks on Linux. And the responses from open source advocates have been equally vitriolic, he said. "Engaging the 'open source crowd' is something that we have historically neglected," wrote Ledgard, who suggested that some bridge-building might be in order.

Amen to that.

And finally, if you thought the United States was losing its position as a top exporter, think again. In its annual "dirty dozen" list, antivirus vendor Sophos ranked the U.S. as the world's No. 1 exporter of spam. Competitors for the dubious honor didn't even come close. Sophos said 42.5% of the world's junk e-mail originates in the United States. The runner-up was South Korea, which generates 15.4% of all spam.

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