9 September 2002 Software giant Microsoft will unveiled today the first major upgrade for its Windows XP operating system.
The two main thrusts of the free upgrade – service pack one – are to improve the security of Windows XP and to give users more control over applications that are installed by default with XP.
The upgrade will contain many security fixes for Windows XP that Microsoft has developed as part of the company’s “Trustworthy Computing” security initiative, devloped in response to several high-profile security breaches. The most damaging of these were the Code Red and Nimda distributed denial of service attacks in mid-2001, which were targeted at Microsoft’s Internet Information Server web server software, deployed as part of both Windows server and desktop software. The fixes will be in addition to those Microsoft has already released.
To comply with the November 2001 antitrust settlement with the US government, Microsoft has delivered several upgrades to XP. New tools, built into Windows’ Start menu, allow users to add or remove Microsoft applications such as Internet Explorer, Windows Messenger instant messaging software, and its Java Virtual Machine, which is software that enables Java applications to run on Windows. However, a final settlement between Microsoft and the nine rebel US states in the antitrust trial has yet to be agreed so more updates may be needed to comply with future rulings.
Microsoft has also tightened its ‘product activation’ feature of Windows XP. This prevents users illegally installing a single copy of Windows on multiple machines by requiring an additional key for activation that is tied to the hardware of the PC on which Windows XP is installed. Illegal cracks and serial numbers have been widely available, including a corporate key that can enable multiple copies of Windows XP, and Microsoft will include code in the service pack that disables those cracks and keys.
The upgrade will be available via Microsoft’s Windows Update mechanism, a download from its web site and on CDs.