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Part 4: Appendixes > Key Features in Service Pack 1

H.4. Key Features in Service Pack 1

Released in 2002, Service Pack 1 aimed to address the antitrust lawsuit filed against Microsoft at the time, as well as fix some of the security problems discovered in the original Windows XP release. Most of the fixes were not visible to end users—the Product Activation system was retooled to help lock out pirate users; compatibility fixes were added for applications originally written for Windows 98/2000; and support for USB 2.0, .NET Framework, Tablet PCs, and other technologies was added. (Full information on SP1 can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp1/default.mspx).

H.4.1. Set Program Access and Defaults

The biggest new tool in SP1 was the Set Program Access and Defaults utility, which is found at the top of the Start menu or via the Add or Remove Programs control panel. It offers a very simple way of telling Windows which web browser, email program, instant messenger, media player, and Java virtual machine should be the defaults. As you might imagine, XP initially prefers Internet Explorer for web browsing, Outlook Express for email, Windows Media Player for multimedia, MSN Messenger for online chat, and the Microsoft Virtual Machine for running Java programs. This screen gives you a simple centralized place to reset or change these defaults, so you could, say, have Mozilla Firefox as your default web browser and Trillian for IM. This feature sounds more comprehensive than it is; in fact, it’s basically useless. It doesn’t let you configure these applications or even reassign file associations; rather, setting a program as a default means it will be displayed on the Start menu and on the desktop; uncheck the “Enable access to this program” box and it simply hides the program’s icon from view. The real goal of this window is to appease those who accused Microsoft of using its operating system monopoly to promote the company’s other products. For more on this non-feature, see “Add or Remove Programs” in Chapter 4. The best way to choose your default programs is through the programs themselves, also discussed in Chapter 4.


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