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Microsoft releases more details on XP SP2

The software maker said the second service pack for Windows XP will go to manufacturing in August. Executives also outlined technologies that will make deploying remote clients quicker and less arduous.

TORONTO -- Microsoft's long-awaited update to its desktop client will be released to manufacturing in August and will be available as a download from the Windows Update site shortly after, executives said at the company's partner conference.

At the event, Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business unit, outlined XP Service Pack 2's security improvements, which include enabled automatic updates and a firewall. Poole said the 800,000 participants in the beta test made the XP SP2 beta program the largest technical software trial in Microsoft's history.

Poole and Alain Meeus, a Windows client product manager, also demonstrated a technology called Zero Touch, which will use an imaging technology that will be in a future service pack of Systems Management Server 2003. Combined with advanced compression, the

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technology will swiftly load a copy of the operating system to a desktop. Poole said the capability, which installed a copy of XP in just over five minutes during the demo, will cut software deployment time by 30%.

Zero Touch was just one of the technologies that appealed to partners who are looking for ways that help IT administrators replace their aging clients.

"The ability to use SMS 2003 to more quickly install remote clients will mean a more painless migration for users," said Jose Alvarez, a project executive at Collective Technologies Inc., an Austin, Texas-based IT infrastructure services provider. "The [Dynamic Systems Initiative] will help on the server side. Everything should come out of the box ready to be monitored by [Microsoft Operations Manager]."

'Common Criteria' details coming

In a previous keynote, Paul Flessner, senior vice president of the server platform division at Microsoft, provided an update of the company's various servers, including Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2004, which is due out in early fall.

In September, Flessner said, Microsoft will provide additional information about its plans for the Common Criteria Roadmap for 2006 and 2007. The company has already outlined the products that will conform to its Common Criteria for 2005, including Windows Installer and Windows Update support, common line for scripting and WMI enablement, the MOM management pack at launch and Virtual Server 2005 support.

Flessner also provided an update to Windows Server 2003 R2, which will be out sometime in 2005 and will be available to Windows 2003 customers at no cost. The release will simplify remote management and provide improved security features, anywhere access for mobile users and rights management.

Flessner said the OS migration and mobile device management feature packs for SMS 2003 will be out in the fourth quarter of this year.

Microsoft also introduced its Windows Marketplace, a shopping and downloading site for all customers to view all products that work with the Windows platform.

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