Preview: Inside the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Beta

By Neil J. Rubenking  |  Posted 2004-01-22 Print this article Print

With heavy emphasis on privacy and network security issues, the next Windows Service Pack is shaping up to be a must-have.

Microsoft will release Service Pack 2 for Windows XP (both Home and Professional) in the first half of 2004. Our look at the beta version, released to testers in December, revealed a number of interesting security enhancements in Web browsing, e-mail, and networking. The beta is, of course, a work in progress—the final version may differ in features and appearance.

Internet Explorer will get its own built-in pop-up blocker. Intranets wont be affected, but when youre surfing the Web, IE will block any pop-up or pop-under window that wasnt triggered by your click (figure 1). In the beta, an audible pop signals each blocking event. You can right-click on the pop-up icon in the status bar to configure pop-up blocking or to review blocked pop-ups (figure 2). IE will also add protection against "drive-by downloads"—downloads that occur without your knowledge or permission. If you want a particular download, you simply click a link that appears below the toolbar.

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Neil J. Rubenking Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990 he had become PC Magazine's technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. His 'User to User' column supplied readers with tips and solutions on using DOS and Windows, his technical columns clarified fine points in programming and operating systems, and his utility articles (over forty of them) provided both useful programs and examples of programming in Pascal, Visual Basic, and Delphi. Mr. Rubenking has also written seven books on DOS, Windows, and Pascal/Delphi programming, including PC Magazine DOS Batch File Lab Notes and the popular Delphi Programming for Dummies. In his current position as a PC Magazine Lead Analyst he evaluates and reports on client-side operating systems and security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and full security suites. He continues to answer questions for readers in the ongoing 'Solutions' column and in PC Magazine's discussion forums.

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