When the number of Windows patches reaches a certain cap, Microsoft releases a Service Pack to offer a more hassle free installation for the most important of them. The service pack contains relevant enhancements, fixes or updates in a single installation pack, and is the preferred solution for system administrators updating multiple computers over the network.
Windows XP SP2 2180 RTM provides just that – a single installation of all important OS updates. The pack is quite large, but taking a look at the main fixes and improvements, you immediately know it is worth your while.
The service pack is mainly security-centered, containing a whole list of security improvements, all designed to increase the protection against viruses, malware, hackers or other type of attacks on your computer. Windows XP SP2 2180 RTM brings more security related information to end users, helping them better understand the options they have to protect their computer.
One of the new features introduced by SP2 is the Security Center, a system protection management utility that allows users to quickly inspect and adjust the security settings of their antivirus, firewall and automatic system updates.
The new Windows Firewall is on by default and allows you to custom-configure open ports to balance the fact that it tags as trusted all workstations on the local subnet and it does not check the outbound traffic.
Moreover, it prevents system access while starting up and prompts you to enable or disable access to applications trying to use the network connection. That being said, you still have to take into consideration a third-party firewall to make up for the shortcomings of Windows Firewall.
SP2 brings to the table what is called Proactive Protection. It recompiles many core system binaries with a new GS flag that helps fight the buffer overruns and significantly optimizes performance.
Actually, this is the reason the installation pack is this large. The new flag provides enhanced protection against memory-based attacks. Moreover, Microsoft Outlook Express, Internet Explorer and Windows Messenger are now equipped with malicious file detection as they are being opened and pop-up blocking/management.
More media sharing functionality is added due to the improved Bluetooth and wireless support that lets you to connect a wide range of photo cameras, mobile phones, MP3 players, keyboards, mice or Palm and Pocket PC devices.
The secured wireless network configuration is also a welcomed addition, enabling you to easily create WEP or WPA wireless networks.
All in all, Windows XP SP2 2180 RTM is a must have for all XP users.