Microsoft Updates Service Pack Beta
When users of Windows XP Service Pack 2 RC1 visit Windows Update they will find three new critical updates waiting for them. Microsoft has taken the unusual step of patching up known issues in the midst of beta testing. Two of the issues concern the Windows Firewall, while the other clears up a problem with dropped virtual private networking (VPN) connections on Linksys gateway devices.
A spokesperson told BetaNews that the updates serve a dual purpose of correcting known whiles while also helping Microsoft test the Windows Update pipelines. Windows Update itself has been substantially updated with a streamlined interface and improved patching technologies pending the release of the service pack.
The first of the critical updates addresses an issue where administrators are now permitted to populate the Windows Firewall exclusion list with additional exceptions unless the action is explicitly blocked by group policy. The corresponding knowledge base article number (KB838904) and the others mentioned below do not point to actual supports article given the software's pre-release status.
The second critical update (KB838907) modifies the firewall so that FTP clients can use active FTP; while the last update (KB838906) allows continuous VPN connection through some Linksys gateway device which previously failed after five minutes.
Microsoft offered up a technical preview of the Service Pack last month to ensure adequate testing prior to the general release of the bits.