After several delays, and some last-minute troubleshooting earlier this week, Microsoft revealed on Friday that it released Windows XP Service Pack 2 to computer makers. The much-anticipated upgrade to Microsoft's flagship operating system promises to make desktop PCs more secure at a time when software holes and worms have become an everyday concern.
The software update will be available for end users to download sometime over the next few weeks, according to Microsoft. The vendor is advising consumers with Windows XP to turn on its Automatic Update feature, which will allow the operating system to automatically download the service pack when it becomes available.
SP 2 is designed to reduce Windows XP's vulnerability to outside threats by switching more of the system's default setting to a secure mode, and by working with Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. to minimize opportunities for buffer overruns, which can provide an entry to exploits. Windows XP's security settings have been made easier to understand via a new Windows Security Center.
In a statement, chairman Bill Gates called Windows XP SP 2 a significant step in Microsoft's goal of helping customers make PCs "better isolated and more resilient in the face of increasingly sophisticated attacks."