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An Inside Look at XP SP2
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Virus Protection

SP2 has been designed to check whether your system has virus protection software installed, and if it has, whether it is working. Unfortunately, this part of SP2 RC1 is particularly buggy in this beta release. Many users have reported that SP2 has not been able to detect their anti-virus software packages, and in cases where it has been able to detect the anti-virus software, it has not been able to determine whether it is running. Some people have also reported that SP2 has disabled the automatic update feature of Norton Anti-Virus. Presumably, this will be fixed before final launch.

Blocking Pop-Ups in IE

Pop-up windows are some of the most irritating experiences of surfing the Web. Microsoft has finally taken the right step in solving this problem. In XP SP2, Internet Explorer automatically blocks pop-ups from web sites (see Figure 7). To view the blocked pop-ups, you can click on the message under the URL and select the necessary actions.

Figure 7
Figure 7. Blocking pop-ups

Internet Explorer is now very cautious about executing scripts and applications. If you load a page that contains active contents (such as ActiveX controls or Macromedia Flash), it will always block them by default. Only when the user is certain that the content is safe will IE then load the application (see Figure 8).

Figure 8
Figure 8. Restricting active contents


Using Bluetooth in Windows XP (prior to SP2) is not a terribly good experience -- you have to install the necessary Bluetooth drivers and then wade through the various steps to pair up devices, etc. In XP SP2, using Bluetooth is a breeze. To test out the Bluetooth support in XP SP2, I plugged in my Billionton Bluetooth USB adapter. To my surprise, XP SP2 automatically installed the necessary drivers for it, and within seconds it was ready for use. (I tried this process using my older 3COM Bluetooth adapter, but the XP SP2 prompted me for drivers; I guess older devices would still require drivers from vendors.) Microsoft has finally given Bluetooth native support in SP2.

To pair up devices with your computer, simply click on the Bluetooth icon located in the Tray and click the Add... button (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Figure 9. New native Bluetooth support in SP2

When a device is located, it offers you a pre-generated key to pair up with your device (see Figure 10). Of course, you have the option to use your own passkey (or not to use one at all).

Figure 10
Figure 10. Pairing a device

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