MICROSOFT Users wait for Service Pack 2
The biggest Windows upgrade provides a security boost.
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) -- Almost since the day Microsoft Corp. released its Windows XP computer operating system nearly three years ago, it has been a favorite target of hackers and critics eager to stress its numerous security shortcomings.
Now, more than two years after promising to do something about it, Microsoft is about to release the biggest update ever for Windows. The free upgrade is designed to make users safer from cyber-attacks by sealing entries to viruses, better protecting personal data and fending off spyware.
The long-awaited update is due to be completed "in the coming days," Microsoft senior product manager Matt Pilla said.
The company could not be more specific. Service Pack 2 has been delayed as programmers have worked to make sure the new security safeguards would not keep people's favorite applications -- such as online games and music download services -- from working right. But such delays aren't unusual in the software industry, and especially with such a massive undertaking as this.
For regular users, the most noticeable change will be a series of new prompts users will see. The idea is that if users have to actively give permission for programs to interact with their computers, there is less chance they will be hit by a virus or inadvertently allow malicious software that can monitor computer activities.
Most users will have to download about 80 megabytes of data for the upgrade. Because it's so big, users are being urged to turn on an automatic update function that will let Microsoft slowly download Service Pack 2 onto your computer with minimal disruption to normal computer activities. The company plans to increase phone support and offer Web-based help with the download.
Pilla said virtually all Windows XP users will be able to download Service Pack 2, regardless of whether they have a legal or pirated copy of the operating system.