Thursday, August 12, 2004
I have installed the Windows XP Service Pack 2 on several machines. I used the full install from MSDN. One machine it was installed on already had a release candidate on it, and it easily installed on top of that. One machine is XP home and the others are Pro. All are working well. The home machine has AOL and it is working fine. Some people have complained that various feature improvements weren't made. I think they completely miss the point of really hardening the system. First get the operating system really secure THEN worry about improvements. Any improvements would have necessarily slowed down the release of the security features. Another complaint I've seen is that the new improved firewall only checks inbound connections. From my perspective, if malicious code gets on your machine, it's too late. My dad had a situation where a day-zero exploit got on his machine and it turned off Zone Alarm. As it died, ZA warned my dad and disabled his machine. To get his machine going again, he uninstalled ZA, leaving the malware happy talking on the internet and feeding him ads.
Norton Antivirus has been upgraded to work (using WMI) to report to the security center. That's working on the one machine I have with Norton.
Improvements that I would have like to have seen in SP2 would be a quick way to add sites to your trusted zone, and a more restrictive Internet Zone in IE. That would prevent some exploits; that's the way I run my machine. Perhaps there's a IE helper function that is a button to add the current site to your trusted zone. Another general improvement I would like to see is better support to run as Least Privileged user. Too many applications (hear me, Intuit??) think the application has to run with administrator rights. This is partially Microsoft's problem since users by default in Home are administrators, Intuit can get away with such clumsy programming.
So far I'm very happy with XP SP2 and here's hoping that it dramatically reduces malware.