XP Service Pack 2 Costs MS, Not You, Serious Dough

While July still stands as the tentative release month for Microsoft’s much-ballyhooed XP Service Pack 2 upgrade, company officials say that Microsoft plans to spend nearly $300 million to support the launch of its security-centric software. The XP update will be available as a “critical” download via Microsoft’s Windows Update feature and will ship with all new PCs as part of an agreement with OEMs and computer retailers.

Tony Goodhew, a product manager in Microsoft’s Developer Group, says a chunk of the $300 million campaign will be spent working with OEMs to get the service pack installed on new PCs. “We’ll be working with retailers like CompUSA and BestBuy to have SP2 installed on all new machines, even those that were shipped to the stores without the upgrade,” he says.

“Ideally, every PC in the store will have SP2 pre-installed. For computers shipped to retailers without the upgrade, we’re working to get the upgrade installed at the time of the sale to the consumer. The customer will be able to wander into a store, buy a machine and walk out with SP2 installed.”

SP2 is a complete overhaul of the security system and infrastructure of Windows XP. Goodhew says the marketing campaign would also include training for enterprise customers looking to deploy the service pack.

Added Features
The service pack, which has been delayed by bugs found during beta testing, will introduce technologies for network protection, memory protection, secure e-mail handling, secure browsing and PC maintenance. It features a brand-new Windows Security Center that allows firewall monitoring, Automatic Update and third-party anti-virus software. It also warns customers when they need to apply patches.

Security experts say Microsoft should ship free CDs with the service pack in order to get around the narrowband hurdle dial-up customers run into if they try to download the service pack. But according to Goodhew, it’s likely consumers will have to pay for shipping and handling.

“You won’t be paying for the CD, so the price will be trivial. If you can afford to buy a latte once a year, you can afford to upgrade to SP2,” he says.

The service pack will also be available as a 100MB upgrade, and Microsoft’s Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) technology should make for a seamless experience.

BITS makes use of leftover bandwidth to transfer files and is perfect for dealing with suspended downloads. For example, if a customer is using 60 percent of a computer’s available bandwidth, BITS uses only the remaining 40 percent and will maintain file transfers when a network disconnection occurs, or the computer needs to be restarted. When the network connection is re-established, BITS continues where it left off.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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