August 6, 2004
REDMOND, Wash. - Microsoft Corp. released a long-awaited security update for Windows XP computers on Friday, a response to the growing number of security shortcomings in the market-dominant operating system.
The free upgrade won't be available to everyone right away, however. Microsoft said the timing will depend on several factors, including customers' Internet usage, location and language as well as the overall demand for the package, dubbed Service Pack 2.
Customizing the fixes in 25 languages will take two months, the company said.
English-language users will get the update earlier as Microsoft distributes it to computer manufacturers, companies and home users through downloads, free CDs and other means.
The upgrade, which Chairman Bill Gates said modifies less than 5 percent of the nearly 3-year-old operating system, is designed to make users safer from cyberattacks by sealing entries to viruses, better protecting personal data and fending off spyware.
For regular users, the most noticeable change will be a series of new prompts users will see. Users will be asked to actively give permission for programs to interact with their computers, so there is less chance they will be hit by a virus or inadvertently allow malicious software that can monitor computer activities.