The Windows XP Service Pack 2 RC1 Test.
I just took some time to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 RC1 on a test machine at work. The first thing I start playing with was the new firewall include in XP who look much better that the original firewall. I had fun playing with it and I must say that at first glance, it¡¦s look pretty easy to configure. Considering the fact that it¡¦s can be configure by Active Directory domain, the Firewall is be a huge asset to XP even for companies behind corporate firewall. By default, the firewall come with 4 rules ; File and Printer Sharing (Off), Remote Assistance (On by default), Remote Desktop (Off) and UPnP framwork (Off). With the default configuration, a complete port scan result is complete stealth. When I took the File and Printer Sharing rule on, the computer was very open after. I was able to ping, resolve the dns name of the machine, enter the C$ share (I was using an administrator account on both machine to test). The File and Printer Sharing rules open 4 ports: Tcp 139 (File and Printer Sharing), Tcp445 (Ping), Udp 137 (DNS), Udp 138 (Broadcast DNS). After, I want to add some rules to open certain port. I was pretty please of easy it was to add the rules to open a port: just add the port number, Udp or TCP and the IP address. At the IP address configuration, you have 3 options: open the port for the Internet, for your subnet or for custom IP. The custom IP option looks very powerful since it can configure Active Directory. I was able to open the File and Printer Sharing only from a specific IP address so the computer looks stealth for my subnet computer except my computer.
The firewall has a special feature that NOT an outbound filtering but when a program tries to listen to a specific port on your computer, the Firewall will tell you and ask you to do a rule for this program.
The firewall also contain ICMP setting that will accept incoming echo, timestamp, mark, router and outgoing destination unreachable, source quench, parameter problem and time exceeded.
I didn¡¦t test the popup killer a lot because I been using Google Toolbar Popup killer for every so I don¡¦t remind what website use popup ƒº and I cannot surf porn/warez site from this machine but on the few website I know that use popup I test, it was looking good. I had more fun testing the new functions that disable toolbar and plug-in that installing themselves with IE. The functions look good. I had fun removing Flash, Google Toolbar from loading in IE. The function does have a design flaw. I¡¦m not a big fan of flash since I see it like the new publicity media. And there is no way to allow plug-in for specific website or hot-key to disable/enable plug-in. The IE version is stamp 6.0.2900.2096
Next thing I did was to go to WindowsUpdate. The site looks more users friendly and looks much better. I love the easy update method that send you directly to the install page after it scan for update for your computer. I read it somewhere the express method was supposed to scan, download and install all critical update in one touch button. Sadly, I was to do 2 buttons (Scan and Install) for the update to be done. I done it again and it wasn¡¦t better. M$ need to work on this version 5 of WindowsUpdate.
I didn¡¦t play with Automatic update sadly since the lack of update. ƒº
Conclusion: I¡¦m surprise by the quality of the firewall that Microsoft has done while keeping it easy to configure. There is other security enhancement in SP2 but the firewall blows them away. SP2 will definitely be a huge asset to Windows XP and to Microsoft World Domination of OS.