'Security Center' Planned for Windows XP SP2

Microsoft has packed more of a punch into Windows XP Service Pack 2. Details have emerged indicating that a new "Security Center" will be incorporated into the update to further secure the three year old operating system.

Contrary to some reports, Security Center is not the PC Satisfaction code that Microsoft tested several months ago. Instead, Microsoft drew upon the feedback gained during the trial to introduce a new user interface concept.

The PC Satisfaction trial shined a spotlight on how Microsoft thought Windows could be improved to provide customers with better security and reliability.  Testers reported features that are normally not included in Windows but supplied by independent software vendors including: a full-fledged antivirus scanner, a self updating firewall, and programmatic data backups.

While similar in its appearance and style, the Windows XP Security Center interface does not contain those elements. Instead, the interface display dialogs telling whether "Security Essentials" such as a firewall, automatic updating, and virus protection are turned on. 

Other items in Security Center focus on tuning Windows security settings, provide helpful hints and manage ActiveX controls.

Microsoft provides recommendations in the event that no virus protection is present on a system. The company will not provide its own scanning engine despite having partnered with F-Secure for PC Satisfaction, and acquiring GeCAD in June 2003.

Commenting on the updated service pack, a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews, "Microsoft did utilize feedback gained during the PC Satisfaction Trial in building the Windows Security Center user interface that is planned for SP2."

Other improvements destined to be included in the service pack are a new version of Internet Explorer, safeguards for Outlook Express, improved memory protection, and a more powerful firewall - now enabled by default. 

The most recent beta release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 -- build number 2082 -- has bundled support for the forthcoming "Lonestar" Tablet PC upgrade, and Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition. Windows Media Player is also scheduled for an update.

Windows XP SP 2 is expected to ship midway through 2004.

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