Key Features in Service Pack 2
Released in August 2004, Service Pack 2 is a much bigger release than SP1 and almost entirely devoted to online security. As a result, there are several new tools to use, as well as several major changes to core parts of Windows XP, notably, Internet Explorer. Each is covered in detail earlier in the book. The key additions are discussed below. For a full list of the changes, visit http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/default.mspx.
Windows Security Center
The first thing you’ll notice is that Windows XP is much more proactive about online security. The slightly upgraded Internet Explorer now, by default, doesn’t allow any downloads (a default that you can change, of course). XP will now nag you if your anti-virus definitions are old or if you’ve turned off a key security feature. And SP2 adds a home base for monitoring security settings—the Security Center control panel (see Figure H-3). This brand new screen provides instant access to the three key parts of the security jigsaw puzzle: firewall, anti-virus, and OS updates. While Windows still lacks its own built-in anti-virus software, the Security Center can hook into most third-party software, from commercial packages like McAfee and Norton, to popular free packages such as AVG, and either automatically pull updates from the web or warn you that it’s time to upgrade. Likewise, it keeps tabs on your firewall, giving you a visible alert if your protection is disabled. But note that there’s nothing ...