Faster Updates, More Security To Arrive In XP SP2


A streamlined software update process and a more protective Internet Explorer browser will be some of the key features of Windows XP Service Pack 2 when it arrives in August, Microsoft executives said Wednesday.

XP SP2 will streamline Windows software updates using a new version of Automatic Update (AU) client, said Mike Nash, senior executive in charge of security at Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., during a monthly security briefing.

With the new AU, bandwidth-throttling features will slow the update process when the system detects that it is monopolizing bandwidth used by other applications, such as Web browsing or messaging, said Nash. The new AU will also delay any reboot required by an update until the next system shutdown, he added.

In addition, Windows Update version 5-"which will ship along with XP SP2 in August"-will add efficiency to the update process by not recommending already-installed updates, said Nash.

XP SP2 will also prevent a system from over-installing related updates, or "encompassing fixes," during an update process, Nash said. "You'll only get that security fix that's necessary," he said.

XP SP2 will also enable the Internet Explorer browser to "eliminate an entire class of vulnerabilities," said Dean Hachamovitch, product unit manager for Internet Explorer.

"We've done a lot of work in the user experience to keep users in control of the experience," Hachamovitch said, citing as an example Internet Explorer's improved ability to decline and prevent unwanted Internet downloads.

Overall, Microsoft's development path for its client and server operating systems should "reduce the number of reboots by 10 percent," said Nash. "We are also committed by the end of the year to reduce the number of installers from about eight now to two. One for kernel, one for application level."

Name changes are also planned for the company's update services, Nash said. "Next year we will replace Windows Update with Microsoft Update. We will also replace Software Updating Services with Windows Updating Services."