Microsoft released the long-anticipated Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to manufacturing, after unknown delays temporarily stumped its wrap.
Although Microsoft's signed off on SP2 -- a major update to Windows XP that devotes considerable effort toward tightening up the operating system against security threats -- it's not yet offering the upgrade to end users.
SP2 will post for downloading next week, said Microsoft, but it's urging users to not flood the Windows Update servers by retrieving the approximately 80MB file on their own. Instead, the developer is trying to convince users to let the patch come to them.
Last week, Microsoft amended its Windows XP website to include instructions on enabling Windows' Automatic Update feature, which will then download the new version when capacity is available.
"The timing for customers to receive the Service Pack 2 download through Automatic Updates depends on a number of factors," said Microsoft in a statement. "[That includes] the customer's internet usage, location, language, and the level of internet demand for Service Pack 2."
For those without big bandwidth, Microsoft will also make SP2 available on CD, free of charge. The company will even pick up the shipping tab.
New machines featuring Windows XP SP2 won't appear until the September-October time frame, said Microsoft, which added that it is working with major manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and IBM to get the new edition on systems as soon as possible.
SP2's most discussed changes include a more rigorous approach to security, including stronger default settings and the new Security Centre, an end user console for monitoring bundled and third party firewall and anti-virus defences.
"We encourage Windows XP users to spend five minutes today to turn on Automatic Updates, thus ensuring they'll receive Service Pack 2 as it becomes available," said Will Poole, who leads Windows client development.
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