Friday, February 27, 2004 7:15 PM bart

The gap between Windows XP and Longhorn

Recently, I heard some concerns of people about the "gap between Windows XP and Longhorn". Being released back in October 2001, Windows XP is now 'older than' 2 years. Longhorn, the next major Windows release for client-side use, has been delayed to 'somewhere in 2006' which is still 2 years to go. First of all, Windows XP SP2 (note: a beta is available for MSDN Subscribers and an interim release is available for the beta testers of XP SP2 on betaplace) will contain a lot of new features which make the service pack more than just a "collection of bug fixes":

  • The Windows Firewall has been extended quite a lot. In XP pre-SP2, the firewall was just some little checkbox to enable or disable the firewall on an internet connection and was disabled by default. Windows Server 2003 will know the "secure by default" principle and that's exactly one of the things which Microsoft is going to do in SP2: the firewall will be enabled by default. Beside of this, the firewall software (formerly known as Internet Connection Firewall or ICF) has now been extended to support exceptions (things which are available and can pass the firewall) which can be extended by adding "trusted programs" and "open ports". The Windows Firewall will bring up notifications as well (if turned on) to notify the user of security issues.
  • Wireless networking has been improved as well. There's a new dialog box to display the available WLANs where the user can change the preferred networks, settings of connections, etc.
  • Internet Explorer 6.05 contains updates to support pop-up blocking (finally!), browser add-on management, etc. The principle of 'zones' has been redesigned as well and the scripting capabilities of IE have been reduced (for example, it will no longer be possible to hide the title bar, address bar, status bar of IE or to move the browser window off-screen).
  • Outlook Express has inherited some of the features of "big brother" Office Outlook 2003 such as the isolation of potentially dangerous attachments and the prevent-from-downloading-images-by-default feature (if you wonder why this is necessairy, it's just another protection against spam: if you're downloading images from the internet in a spam mail, the spam server can record this image download and thus knows - with some tricks - that you've read that e-mail).
  • Messenger now contains an Attachment Excution Services API to prevent the user from opening files sent to him by a contact that may contain malicious code.
  • Windows Update has been extended to "Microsoft Update" which is a wider patch-management system that involves all Microsoft products (e.g. Office software). After the SP2 upgrade the user will be encouraged (during the boot phase as you may have seen Scandisk or convert /fs:ntfs appear on your screen during the boot of Windows XP) to enable the auto update feature to patch the system automatically whenever updates are available.
  • For newer hardware, Windows XP contains memory protection as well. This is a technology that will protect your pc from buffer overrun attacks and is available on systems with NX-technology (Execution Protection) such as the AMD 64 bit processors and Intel Itanium as well as upcoming releases of Intel's Pentium 4 and Xeon. Windows XP binaries will be recompiled using the /GS flag as well to prevent buffer overruns to occur in critical system components and to find such leaks faster.
  • Windows XP SP2 will contain an anti-virus scanner by default that will protect your pc from viruses if you decide to use this technology (it's not mandatory, it can be turned off!).
  • Last but not least, RCP and DCOM have been locked down to reduce network-based attacks (remember MSBlast?).

A great review on XP SP 2 can be found on

A few days ago, Microsoft announced an interim release of Windows beween Windows XP and Longhorn (something as Windows XP Reloaded or Windows XP Second Edition). More info can be found on The release will contain all the features of XP SP2, Windows Media Player 10 and other features which are not known right now. | Digg It | Technorati | Blinklist | Furl | reddit | DotNetKicks

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# re: The gap between Windows XP and Longhorn

Saturday, February 28, 2004 4:34 AM by bart

XP Reloaded; I like that!

btw: good to cu blogging again

# re: The gap between Windows XP and Longhorn

Saturday, May 08, 2004 12:55 AM by bart

# re: The gap between Windows XP and Longhorn

Thursday, June 23, 2005 10:23 AM by bart

I must admit to being more impressed for : Email recovery. Import dbx file. Outlook express problem. I've even recommended it to all my friends.

# re: The gap between Windows XP and Longhorn

Saturday, June 25, 2005 10:19 AM by bart

I have been using : Email recovery. Open dbx. Outlook express problems. Outlook Express more stable and secure than other programs.