Microsoft quietly put a new test site online last Saturday to let hackers attempt to breach Windows XP's security. Microsoft placed a version of Windows XP Home Edition online in a configuration that resembles a typical user's home setup. The Web site will help Microsoft determine configuration settings that it can recommend to potential users of the new OS.
According to the site description, Microsoft configured a small network consisting of two systems running XP Home Edition, Beta 2. One system, named Whisper1, is running a Microsoft Internet Connection Firewall, which is a new stateful inspection-based personal firewall that will ship with XP Home Edition. A second system, named Whisper2 and also running XP Home Edition, moves traffic in and out of the Internet over a DSL connection routed through Whisper1 using Internet Connection Sharing.
Whisper2 runs typical end-user software, such as a mail client, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), MSN Messenger, and MSN Money. A fictitious user named Fred updates a daily activity log on the test site to reveal how Fred uses his machine each day.
In 1999, Microsoft launched a similar effort to test Windows 2000 Server. According to sources inside Microsoft, that effort was very successful in helping the company identify numerous problems before it released the OS to the public. Microsoft hopes to have similar success with the new Windows XP test site.