Microsoft Corp., the world's largest softwaremaker, completed work on an update to its Windows XP operating system that does a better job of protecting church computers from virus attacks.
Microsoft will distribute the Windows XP Service Pack 2 update over the Internet to customers over the next several weeks, Rich Kaplan, a Microsoft vice president for security, said Friday. The update, originally scheduled for release by the end of June, is free for customers who own XP.
Microsoft spent months on the update and delayed work on the next version of its Windows software after two fast-spreading viruses crashed computers and slowed networks in August 2003. The Redmond, Wash.-based company added an improved firewall that turns on automatically and a page that tells PC users whether their security programs are up to date.
To obtain the service pack over the Internet, customers must download a new version of Microsoft's program that automatically updates a user's software from the Microsoft Web site: www.microsoft.com /protect.
The updated Windows will also come loaded on new PCs within several weeks.
The update contains more changes than are typical for what Microsoft refers to as service packs, which are generally a collection of small changes and fixes to software bugs found since the original product went on sale.
The update was delayed because the security changes interfered with popular programs that run on top of Windows. Microsoft had to make some alterations in the program to enable the other applications to run, Kaplan said.
Microsoft was set to release the service pack Wednesday when it found some last-minute issues that delayed the release until Friday. The softwaremaker's Australian office mistakenly issued a press release Wednesday announcing the program's completion