Microsoft has released the beta code for its forthcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to its software developer community.
The software giant said that SP2, which is now being evaluated by members of its Microsoft Developer Network, will help customers better protect themselves against hacking and malicious attacks.
Microsoft expects to "garner significant feedback" from software developers and IT professionals who have examined the beta code.
It has promised that any improvements identified at this stage will be incorporated into the final product.
In October Microsoft president and chief executive Steve Ballmer indicated that SP2 would become the vehicle for the company to introduce new capabilities into Windows.
These include a firewall that will be turned on by default, an improved Internet Explorer that offers protection against harmful downloads, and enhanced memory protection to lessen the threat of buffer overruns.
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