Windows XP Service Pack 2 is a Good Thing

I just send this out in email to some friends and family, and this isn't exactly something we're keeping quiet about here at Microsoft - but just in case you've missed it:

You might have heard that Windows XP SP 2 is going to be available soon – I just wanted to tell you I think that it would be a really good idea if you installed it as and when it becomes available.

It's free and available by enabling the Automatic Updates feature in Windows XP which you can switch on if you go to On that site, there is a simple tool to help you turn on Automatic Updates to get Service Pack 2 and all future critical security updates from Microsoft as they are released.

You've probably heard that it's a really big download (which it is) but it's not a problem if you just do the easy steps at because the update tool will just download the updates piece by piece in the background when you're connected to the Internet but not using all of your network bandwidth. You shouldn't really know that anything has happened until Windows tells you that it's ready to install it.

Here are some comments I've been sent about why it's important to install it:

So why is it so important to get Service Pack 2? Simply put, SP2 helps defend PCs against a variety of security threats. The updates and enhancements in Windows XP SP2 focus on three main areas:

  • More secure Internet browsing and communication: Service Pack 2 includes enhancements to Microsoft Internet Explorer and an improved Windows Firewall that works in concert with your anti-virus and other security software to block annoying pop-up ads and guard against malicious viruses and hackers.
  • Simplified security controls: The new easy-to-use Windows Security Center puts important security settings in one central location.
  • More of what they love about their computers: They'll get the latest updates and drivers for music, videos, Web browsing, gaming, and more, improving on the experiences Windows XP offers.

Today we made Windows XP SP2 available to more than 50 million PCs that have already been upgraded with the latest Windows Update software, our new technology that provides efficient and automatic delivery of SP2 and other critical updates. As you read this mail, more than 500,000 machines are in the process of downloading SP2. When delivered unobtrusively in the background via Automatic Update, the size of SP2 can range from 75 MB to over 100 MB, depending on how up-to-date your computer is. We are seeing very few problems in this process, with our servers still running well under capacity and our worldwide product support lines able to handle calls promptly.

Getting SP2 really is easy. Once you've turned on Automatic Updates, SP2 will be downloaded after it's available in your language, utilizing unused network bandwidth, on either modem or high speed connections. Once the download is complete, you will be notified that new update is ready to install. The process is automated; the time required will vary depending on bandwidth and network traffic. Other options for getting SP2 are to visit the Windows Update Web site to download the update manually (which can take a while), or to order a CD (which takes much longer).

You might have also heard that some programs stop working when you install it. Mostly this is just the case for games or programs which access the internet like Messenger that need to open the Windows XP Firewall. In almost all cases, you'll be told that a program is trying to access the internet and asked if you trust it. For common programs like MSN messenger you just click a button and say that it's OK to unblock internet access for that program. If you'te not sure, you shouldn't Unblock them.