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Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies Release Candidate 2 Fact Sheet

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies Release Candidate 2 Fact Sheet

Updated: August 2004

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies was designed by Microsoft Corp. with the cooperation of industry partners explicitly to provide proactive protection for Windows XP. The updates and enhancements in Windows XP SP2 focus on three main areas:

Stronger Security Settings

Windows XP SP2 establishes stronger default security settings and updates for Windows XP 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 and an improved security infrastructure for businesses. Enhancements include the following:

Windows Firewall (formerly Internet Connection Firewall). With Windows XP SP2, Windows Firewall is enabled by default in the On-With-No-Exceptions Mode, which helps customers guard against network-based attacks by unsolicited inbound traffic. The improved firewall also extends protection to a computer's boot time and shutdown process.

Attachment Manager. Windows XP SP2 establishes stronger default protection against viruses spread through Outlook Express, Windows Messenger and Internet Explorer by isolating potentially unsafe attachments during the opening process.

Internet Explorer security improvements and stronger security default settings. Windows XP SP2 includes code-level changes in Internet Explorer that help protect against certain types of exploits. For example, it restricts script-initiated windows that are used to fool users by hiding Internet Explorer controls and concealing malicious activity. Windows XP SP2 also limits a hacker's ability to attack a PC by restricting HTML in the local machine zone from running with elevated system privileges; and it warns customers about potentially harmful downloads and helps them block unwanted software.

Data execution prevention. Windows XP SP2 reduces the risk of buffer overrun vulnerabilities by helping prevent certain types of malicious code from attacking and overwhelming a computer's memory.

Increased Manageability and Control

Windows XP SP2 makes it easier to configure and manage security resources with new functionality, more accessible and intuitive security tools, and improved settings. They include the following:

Windows Security Center. This new Control Panel feature allows customers to check the status of essential security functionalities at a glance. Windows Security Center monitors information on firewalls, Automatic Update and third-party anti-virus software. It will inform users whether these key security capabilities are turned on and up to date, and will notify them if updates need to be made or if additional actions may need to be taken to improve their security. For enterprises, all aspects of Windows Security Center can be managed centrally via Active Directory Group Policy.

Automatic update enhancements. Windows XP SP2 makes it easier for home users to turn on Automatic Update, which downloads and installs critical updates automatically. New technology has also been added to help dial-up customers download updates more efficiently.

Centralized management of Windows Firewall and Internet Explorer. Window XP SP2 provides system administrators with more configuration options for Windows Firewall and Internet Explorer, such as Group Policy, command line, multicast support and unattended setup. Windows XP SP2 also enables administrators to better manage applications and increase compatibility with Windows Firewall by allowing only ports needed by an application to be open.

Internet Explorer Add-on Manager. Windows XP SP2 allows administrators to easily manage and enforce a list of add-ons to Internet Explorer that are either permitted or disabled to enhance security and reduce the potential for crashes.

New wireless LAN client. Windows XP SP2 provides an updated wireless networking infrastructure to enable easier setup and management of wireless connections. The new wireless LAN client will work with a broad range of wireless hot spots, allowing customers to connect seamlessly without having to install or update a third-party client. A new user interface also allows customers to more easily disconnect from hot spots.

Improved and More Secure Experiences

Windows XP Service Pack 2 improves users' ability to remaining secure by providing users with better information for making decisions that affect their security and privacy. It also includes updates for key drivers, support for new technologies and security updates for key features, all of which provide a better end-user experience and enable more productive and enjoyable computing. These technologies include the following:

Internet Explorer Pop-up Blocker. This new feature, enabled by default, makes browsing the Internet more enjoyable by enabling customers to reduce unwanted ads and content.

Internet Explorer Information Bar. This new toolbar provides better information about Internet Explorer settings and alerts customers to unsigned controls and downloads.

Internet Explorer download monitoring. Windows XP SP2 installs a new feature that identifies and warns customers about potentially harmful downloads and helps them block unwanted and unauthorized code.

Bluetooth update. Windows XP SP2 includes updated support for Bluetooth, enabling customers to take advantage of the latest wireless devices, including a number of wireless keyboards and mice, wireless printers, and connections with cell phones and PDAs.

DirectX 9.0c. The latest, most secure DirectX components include updates to address a network firewall change that affects OEM preinstallations and DirectPlay and allow for enjoyment of advanced graphics and gaming.

Windows Media Player 9 Series. Windows Media Player 9 Series went through a comprehensive security review, which resulted in a robust set of security settings - available from the Tools menu by selecting Options - that allows users to more easily control which services are enabled within the player.

Windows XP Media Center Edition. Windows XP SP2 includes an upgrade to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 for PCs running the first version of Media Center Edition. This upgrade provides the latest Media Center Edition enhancements including improved TV picture quality, an enhanced music library, a richer photo experience, and access to music and video on demand through Online Spotlight.

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Windows XP SP2 includes Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, the next version of the Tablet PC operating system. Customers who install Windows XP SP2 on a Tablet PC will automatically receive the upgrade. Designed to enhance the Tablet PC end-user experience, the new version features deep integration of pen support in Windows XP, making it easier to create text anywhere within Windows XP and familiar Windows-compatible applications.

Microsoft, Windows, MSDN, Outlook, Active Directory, DirectX, DirectPlay and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Bluetooth is a trademark owned by the Bluetooth SIG Inc. and any use of such marks by Microsoft Corp. is under license.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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