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An Inside Look at XP SP2
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Wireless Networking

Wireless networking is another area that receives improvements from Microsoft.

In XP SP2, you now have a much more user-friendly user interface for connecting to your wireless network (see Figure 11).

Figure 11
Figure 11. Wireless network support in SP2

One particular feature that caught my attention was the "Set up a wireless network" item shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12
Figure 12. Wizard to help set up your network

Using this feature, you can set up a wireless infrastructure using a wizard. It automatically generates the WEP key and takes away the burden of keying in the WEP key on all of the computers in your network, by saving the configuration information to a flash drive (see Figure 13). You could then plug the flash drive into the other computers, wireless access points, or wireless devices (such as printers), and they would be automatically configured using the information stored on the flash drive.

I had limited success with this feature during my testing, but the idea is useful for network administrators who need to set up a wireless network infrastructure. I only hope it actually works in the shipping service pack.

Figure 13
Figure 13. Saving the configuration information to a flash drive

Automatic Updates

Microsoft has realized that most users do not really take the issue of software updates seriously. This is especially true when it seems as if there are new software updates to download every other day. So in SP2, Microsoft has streamlined this process and makes it automatic by default (see Figure 14). This is useful for people who don't want to be bothered with updates, since everything is done in the background.

Figure 14
Figure 14. Automatic update is now the default

One thing to note, though, is that once an update is installed, Windows will prompt you to restart the machine. If you keep on delaying the restart, Windows will ultimately override your decision and perform the restart for you. This is particularly worrying for me, as once I was away from my computer and the system restarted without my permission (apparently after hearing no response from me for a while).

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