Downloaded and installed Windows Service Pack 2 last night. This is the much trumpeted update to Windows XP which should make the OS much more secure than it currently is and also explain to the masses just how vulnerable their machines are to virus and trojan attacks. A hefty 260Mb download and half an hour install time later and the service pack was installed.
On rebooting, before Windows was fully loaded an option screen encouraged you to ensure Automatic Window Updates were selected. Once past that screen XP loaded as normal. What was noticeable straightaway was the length of time XP took to get up and running. Slow as a dog. When it eventually loaded (3 mins against 30 seconds) there was a new icon in the sys tray – a red shield. This was the Security Centre telling me my machine was vulnerable. On opening it up fully it said I was fully firewalled as the new XP firewall is enabled by default. It also said my Windows Updates were good as they were set to automatic. However anti-virus was amber as Nortons was running but the software couldn’t detect if it was active or not. Doh. Disabling the windows firewall set that option to red also. But I’ve got a hardware firewall – no need for software. So Security Centre would also say I was open to attack as I didn’t have a software firewall. Nice.
I tried a reboot to see if the startup was any faster. It wasn’t. A quick trip to the services panel and Security Centre was disabled. One reboot later and the speed was back. On talking to others they haven’t seen an issue with speed so maybe it was another setting or bit of software slowing things down but I didn’t need a bit of software telling me I wasn’t secure when I was. However it’s a good tool for the great unwashed who don’t have a foggy about the nasties that can harm their machines. Pity the Security Centre didn’t nag the user into doing backups though – far more useful especially with the increase in DVD writers.
Other updates include improved support for Bluetooth (worked a treat with the T610) and Wireless networks and also some updates for Internet Explorer. Pop-ups blocked and an add-in manager to see what has attached itself to IE. Also mail will no longer download images by default and there’s a few other security related fixes. Windows Update is now at version 5 (seemingly doesn’t work with known dodgy keys used in non pucker copies of XP) and annoyingly it will also install Windows Messenger. To remove it follow the instructions here.
Finally there seems to be a lot of new drivers and compiled XP code. Certainly feels slightly more spritely in use. So a worthy update – just don’t believe the hype around Security Centre.