As you've read, several new features are contained in Service Pack 2. Table 1-1 presents a list of what to expect after installation is complete.
Table 1-1. New and Enhanced Features of Service Pack 2
Internet Pop-up Blocker
Performs the same function as many popular pop-up blockers, such as the Yahoo and Google Toolbars, or PanicWare's Pop-Up Stopper. (In fact, a whole subcategory of pop-up blocker software is available for download at downloads.com.) In my experience, the SP2 pop-up blocker seems to work much better than the one provided by Google.
Internet Explorer download monitoring
Warns before downloading potentially harmful downloads, allowing you to block files from being automatically downloaded by applications.
An enhancement to IE's status bar. It provides information about Information Bar browsing events as you surf the Web, alerting you to possible security issues.
Enhances browser security and reduces the likelihood of crashes Add-On Manager by allowing easier management of IE Add-Ons and Plug-Ins, such as Macromedia's Flash player.
Spammers like to send email to valid email addresses, and before privacy update Service Pack 2, Outlook Express helped spammers by automatically validating the receipt of an email. The privacy update reduces the possibility of such validation (see the next section).
Similar in function to the download monitoring feature, the Attachment Manager monitors and disables potentially unsafe attachments that might contain viruses.
With the new service pack, Microsoft has taken a much more proactive approach to security (and thus has helped users take a more proactive approach as well). Service Pack 2 helps enhance the end-user experience in three significant ways:
It improves Web browsing and Internet communication by reducing unwanted content and downloads.
It makes the management of security settings less confusing and time-consuming, and it reduces the effort of staying current with the latest software patches and hotfixes.
It includes support for the latest computing advances, ensuring that XP is compatible with the latest games, mobile technologies, and digital production suites.
For example, one of these "latest computing advances" that SP2 supports is the continued improvement and availability of wireless networks. Of course, you could connect to a wireless network just fine before Service Pack 2, but now, with the wireless connectivity changes brought on by SP2, it's easier than ever.
In fact, the changes are so significant that they merit an entire chapter, and this is just one of the ways that this book is about SP2 throughout: the wireless chapter is also an SP2 chapter. We look at the new SP2 wireless enhancements in Chapter 10 "Setting Up a Wireless Connection, or How to Check Your Email in a Coffee Shop.