Microsoft on verge of releasing XP Service Pack 2

Microsoft expects to finalise work on Service Pack 2 for Windows XP in the coming days

Microsoft expects to finalise work on Service Pack 2 for Windows XP in the coming days.

Microsoft had hoped to finish work on Service Pack 2 (SP2) this week. The software maker planned to announce the release to manufacturing of the code on Wednesday. However, the plans changed to ensure that the software meets quality standards.

"Microsoft decided that there was still work that needed to be done for SP2 to meet the quality standards its customers demand," a company spokesman said.

Apparently unaware of the change of plans, Microsoft Australia issued a statement on Wednesday announcing the release to manufacturing. The statement was later retracted.

With this release, Microsoft will begin the process of distributing the service pack to users. SP2 will be available through downloads, retail distribution and free CDs, as well as on new PCs. For most users, the download will be between 80Mbytes and 100Mbytes in size, according to Microsoft.

To facilitate the large download, Microsoft is also updating its Windows Update service. Windows Update Version 5 includes smart downloading technology that will allow users to interrupt the large SP2 download and resume it later, which may be especially helpful for users of dial-up internet connections.

Although Microsoft has called Windows XP SP2 a service pack, analysts have said that the update really is more comparable to a Windows upgrade.

SP2 contains bug fixes and updates, but it also offers new features and makes significant changes to the Windows software in four main areas: network protection, memory protection, e-mail security and browsing security.

Microsoft has warned that Windows XP SP2 could break existing applications because of the changes that are made. Earlier this week the company released an update for Microsoft CRM (Customer Relationship Management) 1.2 because SP2 will prevent the application from running correctly, it said.

A first beta of Windows XP SP2 was released in December, followed by Release Candidate 1 in March and a second release candidate in June.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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