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Gates Gives RSA Attendees Peek At Windows XP Service Pack 2

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates Tuesday offered a sneak peek at the features of the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2.

In his keynote address on the first full day of the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Gates outlined upcoming features to Windows XP SP2, including a Windows Security Center that centralizes and manages security settings.

"SP2 is a release that is totally focused on security," Gates said. "It is a major focus of the Windows team. We have prioritized our resources around security."

The Windows Security Center displays status and recommends guidelines with actions that need to be taken. All of the features are managed through Active Directory group policy, said Zach Gutt, a technical product manager who demonstrated the features ofWindows SP2.

Other features include central firewall management and a pop-up blocker in Internet Explorer.

The company also is working on an antispam initiative including safe lists and what it terms "Caller ID for e-mail" to authenticate e-mail. In addition, Microsoft is using Exchange to filter mail away from the Exchange server.

ISA Server 2004, which is an application layer that includes firewall, VPN and Web cache, will also help protect computers, and Gates said firewall protection will be on all clients and centrally managed through the SP2.

Gutt also demonstrated Active Protection Technology, which purports to make networks resilient to worms and viruses by containing and preventing attacks using behavior-blocking technology.

Active Protection Technology features dynamic system protection, "which automatically raises the level of security of a computer based on the computer's state [of security updates]," Gutt said. Should a computer not have a patch installed, the system will alert the firewall, which will increase protection of the computer until the patch is installed, he said.

Gates also discussed partnerships, including one with the Web Services Interoperability Organization; its membership in the Global Infrastructure Alliance, which includes the majority of ISPs and other service providers worldwide; and the Virus Information Alliance, which also includes Trend Micro, Sybari, Symantec, Network Associates and Computer Associates International.

Gates also touched on a partnership with RSA Security, in which the security company has created its SecurID token for Microsoft Windows, bringing the RSA security solution to the desktop.

Gates was the keynote speaker at RSA's 13th annual conference, the theme of which is "The Art of Security." The event opened with a group of Chinese musicians and dancers.

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