As we reported yesterday, Service Pack 2 for Windows XP has finally been released and is now available for people to download and install on their systems. The file, at just over 250 Megs, is a hefty download yet is packed with new updates well worth getting (Microsoft will allow people to order a CD with it on in due course).
The install took about 5-10 minutes, yet clearly this figure will vary from system to system. After installing and rebooting XP asked me to turn on automatic updates (even before reaching windows). An excellent move on Microsoft's behalf, and one that serves to highlights a growing commitment to security and user safety. On the first run, Microsoft also loads up the new Security Center (screenshot). The Security Center monitors your Antivirus, Firewall, and Auto Update situation. If it detects anything that is potentially damaging or hazardous, it will prompt you with a warning and give you advice on how to resolve the issue. Microsoft has saved a lot of hassle for users in that if you have Zone Alarm installed, they leave the Windows Firewall off to prevent conflicts (screenshot).
Less importantly for a Firefox user like me, Internet Explorer has been updated (screenshot) and the new features seem helpful. As well as a new version of IE, Outlook Express, Microsoft's free mail client bundled with Windows has been updated with better protection against email spread viruses and worms. I spent a few hours using the improved browser and it does seems somewhat nippier than before. With additions like pop-up blocking, IE becomes a slightly more attractive prospect. However, it still lacks features like tabbed browsing and standards compliancy that make some of the new features moot points. To really start winning back people, Microsoft need to get IE 7 out the door with these features (Before longhorn though?). I'd like to say i was impressed, but IE in SP2 is playing catch up, not adding features.
Click "Read more" to view the rest of the review, and our conclusions.
Download: Windows XP SP2 - direct from Microsoft
Download: Patched UxTheme.dll for Windows XP SP2