Windows XP Service Pack 1

Several months ago, Microsoft released a major update for Windows XP home and professional editions, which was designed to correct the majority of issues that users had experienced since it was originally released.The update also added several new features and with many people in the bay taking the plunge and upgrading to Windows XP, I thought it time that I explain what these free of charge updates offer the average home user.

The ‘Service Pack’ centres on improving the general security and stability of the Operating System by bundling all of the previous critical updates together into the one file as well as a fair amount of new code.Those of you who run Windows Update on a regular basis will probably already have a large majority of the fixes already installed on your system but there are still a number of other reasons for upgrading.

First and foremost is that it’s completely free of charge from, however you should bear in mind that the full installation version weighs in at 130mb so if you don’t have it yourself, you may wish to find a friend with Broadband or leave your computer downloading from the Internet overnight.For those of you who have been running Windows Update on a regular basis, there is a ‘express installation’ version, which only downloads the additional files needed to make up the complete Service Pack.This Express Installation version can be as small as 30mb in size depending on how up to date your Operating System was kept in the first place.

One of the main new features that you’ll notice is the ‘Set Program Access and Defaults’ wizard.This is a result of Microsoft’s continual conflict with the Department of Justice in the States who have ruled that Microsoft are forcing their programs onto people free of charge with their Operating Systems, therefore making it hard for other developers to compete on a level playing field with their own software.This new feature of Windows allows you to specify that you want to use, say, Netscape Navigator for browsing the Internet, Sun Java Virtual Machine for running Java files and Winamp for playing music files.The Microsoft equivalent programs will then be hidden from view although not removed from your hard disk entirely.

The Service Pack is completely uninstallable as long as you specify that you wish to create the appropriate backups when you actually install it.By uninstalling the files, Windows simply reverts to its exact state before the update, complete with any bug fixes you may have already had installed left intact.

If you own Windows XP and have sufficient time to download this update or have broadband then it’s definitely a worthwhile venture however don’t even consider paying money to get a copy on disk or downloading it if you haven’t unlimited Internet Access.

Finally, before I leave you this week I thought I would give you with a brief update on my ongoing saga to get ADSL installed in my house, which many of you have shown a genuine interest in.I attempted once again to sign up with Freeserve months ago and went through the motions of getting my line retested to see if I was yet a suitable candidate.Once again it failed but strangely, 3 months later I’m still being billed £27.99 a month for a broadband service I don’t have nor have ever had.I contacted Freeserve and they refunded me the money I’d paid and said that I wouldn’t receive any more bills but several weeks later and I’ve just received another bill for £27.99 to cover yet another months worth of my non-existent ADSL service.Broadband is great when it works but the providers should really work closer with BT to ensure that things are very quickly put right when they don’t.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.