REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 6, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the release to manufacturing of Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies. This free service pack delivers the latest security updates and innovations from Microsoft, establishes strong default security settings, and adds new proactive protection features that will help better safeguard computers from hackers, viruses and other security risks.
"Service Pack 2 is a significant step in delivering on our goal to help customers make their PCs better isolated and more resilient in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks," said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect at Microsoft. "It is the result of sustained investments in innovation and extensive industry collaboration. It also reflects a broad recognition that as the security environment changes, the industry needs to work together to respond."
During the worldwide rollout of Service Pack 2, Microsoft will localize the software in 25 languages over the next two months and distribute it to computer manufacturers, enterprise customers and consumers through downloads, retail installation, free CDs and on new PCs. The easiest way for current Windows XP users to ensure they receive Service Pack 2 when it releases in their language is to simply turn on the Automatic Updates feature in Windows XP. Customers with Automatic Updates enabled will receive the latest security updates for Windows XP, along with updated installation software that will optimize the download experience of Service Pack 2 and all future updates to Windows XP. The timing for customers to receive the Service Pack 2 download through Automatic Updates depends on a number of factors, including the customer's Internet usage, location, language and the level of Internet demand for Service Pack 2. Automatic Updates uses spare Internet capacity to progressively download updates without interfering with daily PC use. Microsoft expects to distribute Service Pack 2 to approximately 100 million PCs through Automatic Updates over the next two months. Automatic Updates is easy to turn on in Windows XP, and details are available at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/ .
Customers without reliable Internet connections who wish to obtain Service Pack 2 on CD can order a free disc from the Microsoft Web site as Service Pack 2 is rolled out worldwide. Microsoft also is working with computer manufacturers to ensure they can make Windows XP-based PCs preloaded with Service Pack 2 available as soon as possible.
Businesses of all sizes should be evaluating Service Pack 2 now, if they have not begun doing so already. Business customers using Windows XP should deploy the service pack on their most important systems, especially notebooks and computers for home workers, as soon as is practical.
"With the proliferation of viruses and other broad threats on business and consumer desktops, I can think of no higher priority than trying to ensure the security of personal computers," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group. "Whether the customer is a large enterprise, a small business or an individual, Windows XP Service Pack 2 is critical because it addresses today's exposures in a comprehensive fashion. For anyone currently using Windows XP, my advice is to apply it at your earliest opportunity."
Service Pack 2 Provides Proactive Protection for Windows XP Customers
Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies was designed by Microsoft explicitly to provide proactive protection for Windows XP. The updates and enhancements in Service Pack 2 focus on three main areas:
Stronger security settings. Service Pack 2 establishes stronger default security settings and includes updates with new features and tools designed to help customers better defend their systems and information from hackers, viruses and other security threats. This means safer browsing and communications for consumers plus an improved security infrastructure for businesses.
Increased manageability and control. Service Pack 2 makes it easier to configure and manage security resources with new functionality, more accessible and intuitive security tools, and the new Windows Security Center.
Improved and more-secure experiences. Service Pack 2 includes updates for key drivers, updated support for new technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth - especially around security - and security updates for other key features, all of which provide a safer end-user experience and thus enable more productive and enjoyable computing.
Microsoft Joins With Customers and Industry Partners to Deliver Latest Enhancements
Service Pack 2 incorporates the results of significant customer testing. Microsoft has hosted more than 1 million downloads of test versions of Service Pack 2 through its technical preview, technical beta and MSDN programs, making it one of the largest test programs in the company's history. In addition, Microsoft has tested thousands of applications and Windows XP-based devices for compatibility with Service Pack 2 and highly recommends the enhancements Service Pack 2 provides for all types of users.
Developing Service Pack 2 required close collaboration between Microsoft and other industry leaders, including software vendors, chip makers and PC manufacturers. Examples of the industry collaboration on Service Pack 2 include the following:
Windows Security Center. Windows Security Center monitors the status of software Internet firewalls, Automatic Updates services and anti-virus software. It allows customers to see at a glance whether these essential security capabilities are turned on and up to date, or if additional actions need to be taken to better secure their PCs. Microsoft worked closely with ISVs to build the Windows Security Center customer experience.
"Now, more than ever, users need to be more hands-on in safeguarding their computers. Symantec supports Microsoft's efforts to raise security awareness among Windows users worldwide with the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2," said Stephen Cullen, senior vice president, Security Products and Solutions at Symantec. "Symantec's current line of industry-leading consumer and enterprise antivirus, firewall and intrusion prevention security solutions are compatible with Service Pack 2 and allow the mutual customers of Symantec and Microsoft to defend against today's blended security threats as well as the unknown threats of tomorrow."
Data execution prevention. Service Pack 2 works with processor technologies to reduce the risk of the most common means of virus penetration into computer systems - exploiting "buffer overrun" vulnerabilities. Microsoft worked closely with processor manufacturers, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and Intel Corporation to extend its Data Execution Prevention technology through new processor functionality.
"Intel and Microsoft have worked closely together to improve the overall security of the PC platform by bringing Execute Disable Bit and Microsoft's Data Execution Prevention to mainstream desktops and workstations. These are the first components of a broad security effort by our two companies," said Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of the Desktop Platforms Group at Intel. "These new technologies will be available in PCs this fall and are an excellent choice for businesses that are looking to improve the security of their infrastructure."
"With today's release of Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 2, the millions of users who have purchased AMD Athlon 64 desktop and mobile processors can rest assured they have the industry's most formidable protection against certain computer viruses," said Hector Ruiz, chairman of the board, president and CEO of AMD. "Our longstanding collaboration with Microsoft enables AMD's industry-leading Enhanced Virus Protection technology to put the computer user back in control."
Preloaded PCs. Microsoft is working with computer manufacturers such as Dell, HP and IBM Corp. to ensure the manufacturers are able to ship machines preloaded with Windows XP Service Pack 2 beginning in September and October.
"The security enhancements in Windows XP Service Pack 2 represent a significant improvement for customers in helping them make their computers more secure and giving them more control," said Will Poole, senior vice president at Microsoft. "We encourage Windows XP users to spend five minutes today and visit http://www.microsoft.com/protect/ to turn on Automatic Updates, thus ensuring they will receive Service Pack 2 as it becomes available on a global basis."
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