Having started distributing its latest update to the Windows XP operating system to home users through its Automatic Updates feature, Microsoft says it hopes to have 100 million copies of the changes, dubbed Service Pack 2, distributed by October, according to a company spokesperson.
The software maker started pushing out Service Pack 2 (SP2) to XP Home operating system users who enabled the Automatic Updates feature last Wednesday and will soon distribute a version of the patch for XP Pro users through the same channel. But Microsoft is still meting out access to the patch to avoid being overwhelmed by requests from more than 200 million Windows XP users.
Microsoft released XP SP2 shortly after completing work on the massive software update on August 6. Until last week, the company only distributed the update to customers who tested pre-release (or beta) versions of the product, to companies through the www.microsoft.com/downloads page and to information technology professionals who subscribe to the Microsoft Developers Network.
New SP2 security features include an improved version of Windows Internet Connection Firewall, now named the Windows Firewall, a user-friendly interface for managing security settings and better features for detecting and blocking malicious content downloaded from websites, the spokesperson continued.
The Automatic Updates feature allows Windows XP users to automatically download a copy from Microsoft's servers. The feature can download the massive patch to Windows machines in multiple installments, pausing and restarting when Internet connectivity is lost or a Windows machine is shut down.
More than one million copies of SP2 were downloaded as of Monday, but Microsoft expects that number to increase now that the update is being distributed through Automatic Updates. However, to prevent a run on SP2, Microsoft was limiting downloads based on customers' Internet use, their geographic location and the language version of XP SP2 they were requesting, the spokesperson said.
The company plans to make versions of SP2 available through the Windows software update feature, known as Windows Update, in the near future, though no specific date has been set.