Microsoft readies XP SP2 giveaway

Microsoft says it will give away Service Pack 2 for XP, but remains coy about the exact nature of XP Reloaded

At a reviewers' workshop in London yesterday, 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 it is released in its own right later in the summer this will have slimmed down to around 80MB, and the company plans to make it available for free on CD in shops. It will also be obtainable by post, although the company has yet to decide whether to pay for postage and packing. Microsoft says that smart downloading techniques will minimise the time spent online for those using dial-up to obtain the upgrade.

SP2 will be labelled on the box as having "Advanced Security Technologies", highlighting its set of updates to Windows' firewall, antivirus and network protection mechanisms. Although the company says that some of these changes will cause problems with around one in 10 existing applications, it is not planning a certification programme and is not maintaining a public list of troublesome software. Tablet PCs are also catered for 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 "XP Reloaded", a major marketing campaign due to run in the second half of the year. The company has previously said that the campaign is intended to rejuvenate consumer excitement about XP. Speculation has centred on the unreleased Media Player 10 and possible inclusion of online music-store integration, together with iTunes-like links with portable music devices. Microsoft refused to comment beyond saying that it will release more details in a couple of weeks.

For more details from the reviewers' workshop, click here.