Microsoft Ships Windows XP SP2 RC2

Sometime this morning, Microsoft will publicly launch the second public preview release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the oft-delayed Release Candidate 2 (RC2) build, giving customers one last chance to test the product and the myriad of changes it brings. XP SP2 is an extensive, security-oriented update to XP that, in many ways, is as disruptive as a major Windows release.
"The updates and enhancements in Windows XP SP2 focus on three main areas," a Microsoft spokesperson told me late yesterday, "including stronger security settings, increased manageability and control, and improved and more secure experiences." XP SP2 includes stronger default security settings and updates; new features and tools that will help customers better defend their systems, including information about attackers, viruses, and other security threats; more accessible and intuitive security tools, including the new Windows Security Center; updates for key drivers; support for new technologies; and security updates for key features.
For Tablet PC users, the update also provides a major refresh of XP Tablet PC Edition that adds a much-improved Tablet Input Panel and other features. Likewise, Media Center PC users will find their systems updated to XP Media Center Edition 2005, also a major update, after they install XP SP2.
You can download XP SP2 RC2 from the Microsoft Web site sometime today. For more information about this crucial release, refer to my review of the product on the SuperSite for Windows .

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