In the interest of “taking one for the team,” I’ve installed a service pack against my (and others’s) better judgment. I’ve decided to install on my primary work machine. This is so that I’ll have a vested interest in fixing anything I find broken.
So, I’ve installed the MS XP SP 2 RC 2, and so far, other than getting a slight rash from acronym overexposure, the machine appears to be doing okay. Nothing’s broken yet.
Installation was pretty easy, and before you can hit ctrl+alt+del to log in, it asks you if you want to run the new firewall. I, of course, said “Yes.”
It’s like XP has a bit of ZoneAlarm integrated into the OS, and it asks for permission when a program attempts to access the internet. Those of us who have been running ZoneAlarm for years will find this action familiar, although from first glance it’s not as robust as Zone Labs’s product.
You’ll have a few hiccups when you try to use aim, or update your antivirus software, but otherwise, so far, it’s been a fairly transparent experience. Basically, a popup window will come up and ask you to block or unblock programs that attempt any sort of communication outside your computer. You can say, “block,” “unblock,” or the ever popular, “Ask me later.”
In the control panel, there are a few bits where you can tweak the firewall. You can add programs that are exempt from the firewall’s tender iron grip, (Hello, WarCraft III) allowing them to accept incoming connections. You can also have windows create a log file for troubleshooting, although how useful that will be has yet to be seen.
What’s missing is a “lockdown” button. I, for one, would like the option to block all incoming and outgoing traffic.
I don’t know what I would do with such a button, but I would probably hotwire it to a large red button. And then I’d put a plastic cover on it with a hinge to prevent accidentally tripping it. Then I’d probably want a siren attached to the hinge that blares the “red alert” noise from Star Trek when I open it.
Also missing are any options to “Set phasers to stun,” and “Perform Picard maneuver.”