Windows XP Service Pack 2
Windows XP Service Pack 2 (officially named "Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies") was released on August 9th, 2004. Service Pack 2 is the latest and most significant update to Microsoft's leading operating system.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) will support Windows XP Service Pack 2 for its clients, including off-campus students, only on new PCs that ship with Windows XP Service Pack 2 pre-installed or that have been automatically updated through Windows Update. ISC strongly recommends that all other users adopt a "wait and see" attitude, continuing to use previous versions of Windows XP until after the initial bugs in Service Pack 2 are identified and fixed.
Important note: please consult with your local support provider (LSP) before installing Windows XP Service Pack 2.
When ISC does recommend an upgrade it will be for workstations with processors 450 MHz or above that have at least 256 megabytes of RAM. Please refer to ISC's Windows System Specifications to find out which versions of Windows are recommended for your computer. The full version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 is approximately a 270 megabyte download and requires between 650 megabytes and 2.0 gigabytes of additional hard disk space over a base Windows XP Professional installation.
There are several known problems with Windows XP Service Pack 2, a few of which are especially relevant to Penn's Windows XP users:
- Windows XP Service Pack 2 includes an updated version of Internet Explorer 6.0, which introduces significant incompatibilities for some University users, including BEN Financials users. Due to issues with the MarkView plug-in, Service Pack 2 should not be installed on any desktop that needs to use the BEN Financials application. This issue is being investigated, and an update will be posted on this page once resolved. The BEN Financials team will also communicate appropriate updates via the lsp-adsys listserv.
- Windows XP Service Pack 2 requires a BIOS upgrade or other hardware-related changes for some PCs.
- The Summer and Fall versions of the PennConnect 2004 CD-ROM install and run successfully on Windows XP Service Pack 2, with two exceptions.
- The Summer version of the PennConnect 2004 CD-ROM includes Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition (SAV) version 8.1.1, while the Fall version of the PennConnect 2004 CD-ROM includes version 9.0.1. While default installations of both versions of SAV are fully functionional with Windows XP Service Pack 2, Service Pack 2's Security Center component is not "aware" of SAV 8.1.1. If you are set up to run SAV in "managed mode", your LSP will need to push configuration changes to your workstation in order to make SAV fully compatible with Windows XP Service Pack 2 (typical users are not affected, since the default installations of SAV on the PennConnect CD are unmanaged).
- Since Windows Firewall is enabled by default in Windows XP Service Pack 2, Dimension 5.0 will not be able to communicate with the timeserver. Once these calls are "unblocked" by the Windows Firewall control panel, Dimension 5.0 works correctly.
What's new in Windows XP Service Pack 2
Windows XP Service Pack 2 has many new features, most of which are security-related:
- Network Protection Technologies: the included Windows Firewall provides better protection against network-based attacks. Enhancements include turning on Windows Firewall in default installations of Service Pack 2, closing ports except when they are in use, improving the user interface for configuration, and improving application compatibility with Windows Firewall.
- Memory Protection Technologies: Service Pack 2 provides added protection against certains kinds of operating system attacks called buffer overruns.
- Email Handling Technologies: Service Pack 2 includes security enhancements for communications applications such as Outlook 2003 and Windows Messenger. As a result, potentially unsafe email attachments and instant messages are isolated so that they cannot affect other parts of the system.
- Web Browsing Security: the web browsing enhancements in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows XP Service Pack 2 provide better protection against malicious content than previously had been available. One enhancement prevents the running of malicious scripts and fortifies against harmful Web downloads. Additionally, better user controls are provided to help prevent malicious ActiveX controls and spyware from running on users' systems without their knowledge and consent. Finally, Internet Explorer now includes integrated blocking of pop-up windows.
- Computer Maintenance: new features have been added to help users stay up-to-date with the latest software and security updates. These include Security Center, a central location for information about the security of the client's computer, and Windows Installer, which provides more security options for software installation.
- Updated features for Tablet PCs: updates include a new, more user-friendly, design for Tablet PC Input Panel, an improved Input Panel correction experience, context-sensitive handwriting recognition (for example, URL and email addresses), improved handwriting recognition engines for all languages - most notably East Asian languages, and a new lined input experience in the East Asian Input Panel.
-- Laura Hunter, Student Financial Services and John Mulhern III, ISC Technology Support Services (August 13, 2004)