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Windows XP SP2 will have new memory-protection features, an activated firewall, Bluetooth 2.0 support, and browser and e-mail security features. It also carries new versions of Windows Media Player and DirectX.
Gartner analysts John Pescatore and Michael Silver said SP2 would be useful but, because of the slow take-up of XP by corporate users, the security features should be introduced to older products.
"The commercial market often uses Windows 2000 Professional and Microsoft has not committed to providing similar functionality for this," they said."Enterprises trying to skip XP should pressure Microsoft to release similar functionality for Windows 2000, but we expect anything it delivers for Windows 2000 to fall short of the features planned for XP."
Paul Randle, Microsoft's Windows product manager, said, "The targets for deployment are very aggressive. We want people to deploy it quickly and our customers to be as secure as possible."
Microsoft said it had no plans to introduce the SP2 functions for older operating systems.
Gartner said firms running XP should fully test SP2 and deploy it, but only after it has been shipping for at least two months.