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Free update CD for Windows users in India

By Anand Parthasarathy

BANGALORE, OCT. 10. After a seemingly endless series of hacker attacks targeting the most popular applications of the Windows XP operating system, Microsoft has updated dozens of patches and fixes, beefed up key security features, added a new `firewall' protection and consolidated all this, as Service Pack no. 2 (XPSP2).

While the hefty package has been available as a download for a month now, the company has adopted a different strategy to distribute it in India, where dearth of broadband high-speed access to the Internet makes lengthy download impracticable for most users.

Order taken online

Microsoft is offering XPSP2 as a free CD that can be ordered by any Indian user, by going to a newly created security web page ( www.microsoft.com/india/security) and filling in a form with his or her postal address. It can also be ordered by calling a toll free number: 1-901-33-33-34.

The free CD will be couriered within a couple of weeks, said Jasminder Gulati, Microsoft's Manager, Enterprise Marketing. And here's the pleasant surprise: The CD can be ordered by any user of the Windows XP system - not just those who bought a legal copy.

In other words, you need not bother with product serial numbers or trying to contact your dealer who may have preinstalled the software when you bought the machine.

Hackers' threat

It would appear that Microsoft is more worried right now that the relentless attack of hackers on its core products, like the Internet Explorer browser, should not drive users to rivals, than in trying to nail pirated usage of its products.

But the company's concerns go beyond that, Mr. Gulati told The Hindu last week on the sidelines of the Frost and Sullivan Information Security conference here. It is part of Chief Software Architect Bill Gates personal crusade called "Trustworthy Computing."

New firewall

To this end, the SP2 pack comes with a new firewall to protect PCs unauthorised access, as well as a `pop-up' blocker to eliminate those irritating advertisements, and a manager to disable potentially unsafe email attachments.

The CD can be used by all PCs that run Win XP, have a chip 233 MHz or faster, 64 MB of RAM and 1.6 GB of free space on the hard disk.

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