Bargains for Under $25 HP Envy 34 All-in-One PC Review Best Fitbits T-Mobile Data Breach Settlement ExpressVPN Review Best Buy Anniversary Sale Healthy Meal Delivery Orville 'Out Star Treks' Star Trek
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Microsoft preps security-minded Windows update

It's only a release candidate--and another may be needed--but work on Windows XP Service Pack 2 is proceeding.

Microsoft on Monday released what it hopes is a nearly final test version of a security-oriented Windows upgrade.

The company issued Release Candidate 2 of Windows XP Service Pack 2--a mouthful that amounts to a host of improvements designed to make PC users more likely to employ stronger security settings on their machines. Microsoft had been expected to reach the RC2 milestone last month, but apparently ran into some compatibility issues, according to several Windows enthusiast sites.

The delay raised questions about question whether Microsoft will be able to meet its latest timetable, which calls for the final product to be ready by July. The company has said it does not yet know whether a third release candidate will be needed before finalizing the code, a stage known as "released to manufacturing." The first release candidate version was offered in March.

"Windows XP SP2 is entering its final testing stages on its way toward a release this summer," a Microsoft representative wrote in an e-mail.

Get Up to Speed on...
Enterprise security
Get the latest headlines and
company-specific news in our
expanded GUTS section.

In addition to the usual collection of bug fixes that typify Microsoft's service packs, Service Pack 2 contains a number of new features. Most of the improvements deal with security, such as a Security Center that provides a view of a PC's key protective settings, as well as an improved firewall and other tweaks.

Work on Service Pack 2 has consumed a far greater amount of resources than the software maker originally intended. Company executives have said that work on SP 2 required the company to pull engineers off of Longhorn--the code name for the next major release of Windows that is not expected until 2006.