Two betas planned for XP SP2, Microsoft says

A final version of Windows XP Service Pack 2, a service pack with the feel of a full upgrade, will ship in the middle of 2004, a Microsoft executive said Tuesday.

A Microsoft executive has reiterated the company's intention to deliver a new service pack beta for Windows XP by the end of December. It's likely that the final upgrade will ship by mid-2004.

During a webcast on Tuesday, Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's security business unit, said that the first beta for XP Service Pack 2 will be geared toward IT professionals in the enterprise. This is just an initial beta; a broad beta will come later, he said.

The service pack focuses on a handful of security enhancements, such as blocking port-based attacks, malicious e-mail and malicious instant messages, and buffer overrun attacks.

The beta will offer closed ports by default, and it will offer more flexibility to IT administrators deciding which applications can come through the firewall. The beta also brings more stringent attachment settings.

"We found [out] through Sobig that many customers were still susceptible to those kinds of attacks," Nash said. Some of these vulnerabilities may result from employees going to their personal e-mail accounts using Outlook Express, or using Web-based access to e-mail.

Nash said that the software's availability will depend on feedback from beta-testers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Interview: Mark Minasi on tuning Windows 2000, XP, Windows Server 2003

News: Windows XP SP2 unlike most service packs

Resources: Visit the Desktop Deployment Info Center

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