Microsoft readies XP update giveaway

The software maker says it plans to make its Service Pack 2 for Windows XP available at no charge but remains coy about the exact nature of "XP Reloaded."

LONDON--Microsoft says it will give away Service Pack 2 for Windows XP but is remaining coy about the exact nature of "XP Reloaded."

At a reviewers' workshop here Monday, Microsoft revealed more information about its plans for Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), which is currently available for download as a 200MB Release Candidate 1.

By the time the software becomes more formally available later in the summer, it will have slimmed down to around 80MB, and the company plans to make it available at no charge on CD in stores. It will also be obtainable by mail, although the company has yet to decide whether to pay for packing and postage. Microsoft says that "smart downloading" techniques will minimize the time spent online for those using dial-up services to obtain the upgrade.

SP2 will be labeled on the box as having "advanced security technologies," highlighting its set of updates to the firewall, antivirus and network protection mechanisms of the Windows operating system. Although Microsoft says that some of these changes will cause problems with around one in 10 existing applications, the company is not planning a certification program and is not maintaining a public list of troublesome software. Tablet PCs are also being addressed by SP2's inclusion of Lonestar--more formally known as XP Tablet PC Edition 2005--which adds more stylus input options and Office integration.

Microsoft was reticent when questioned about

The company declined to comment beyond saying that it will release more details in a couple of weeks.

Rupert Goodwins reports for London-based ZDNet UK.

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