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Windows XP Service Pack 2 Nears Beta

The update to Microsoft's current desktop operating system will enter beta in the next few weeks, according to a company E-mail.
Windows XP Service Pack 2, a major update of the most current version of the desktop operating system, will enter beta testing in the next few weeks, according to E-mail from Microsoft posted on a Windows enthusiast Web site.

Neowin, which frequently posts copies of E-mails from Microsoft's beta team on its site, displayed a copy of a message to beta testers alerting them that Service Pack 2, which Microsoft has said would release sometime during the first half of 2004, will be "available in a few weeks."

The E-mail confirms what Microsoft has been saying publicly: that Service Pack 2 will turn on Windows XP's personal firewall by default, contain an improved Windows Update service (the Microsoft service for retrieving and installing security updates), and offer a roll-up of security fixes for Windows, including Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

Some analysts have touted Service Pack 2 as more like a major update than the usual operating system Service Pack.