Microsoft is prepping Windows XP Service Pack 2 to be released into beta testing within a week, sources said.
Service Pack 2, or SP2, expected to be delivered in finished form during the first half of 2004, is considered a significant Windows update because it offers enhanced security features and rolls up all the security patches and updates that have been released since the last service pack shipped in September 2002.
Sources familiar with the Service Pack 2 beta said the update offers Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) turned on by default, better patch detection and management features, changes in the way e-mail attachments are handled and support for the Security Configuration Wizard, planned for the first Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 due in the second half of next year, partners said.
Microsoft has, for instance, made it possible for users to configure and manage the firewall using the Group Policy features of Active Directory, so that, for instance, an administrator can turn on the ICF for laptops used remotely and turn it off when they used within the office, sources said.
That way, a company can have multiple configurations for different user scenarios and manage it from one location.
In addition, the update includes changes to the remote procedure call (RPC) to limit the amount of damage that can be done by a hacker. By narrowing the set of permissions and privileges to the user level, virus and worm writers would be restricted.
News source: CRN.com