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Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Changes for web-developers

I installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 the other day. A huge file - 279mb! Don't ask me why it's so big. It does however include many security changes to Windows XP and Internet Explorer. For average users it's important to not the new security changes/improvements, including:

  • Firewall is enabled by default

  • Pop-up blocker

  • Stricter active-x control

  • Security Center in Control Panel

  • Improved WLAN


  • But what does this mean for us developers?

    First of all the pop-up blocking can cause many problems. Don't misunderstand - it's a great features - I hate pop-up ad's as much as anyone. But many sites uses pop-up's in a good way. Our application, 24SevenOffice.com, uses pop-up extensively. When the user logs into the system, a pop-up window is launched. To check for pop-up blockers I use the following JavaScript code:


    var main_window, check;
    main_window = window.open('start.asp','24SevenOffice','');
    try {check = window['main_window'].name;} catch(er) {document.location.href = 'popupstop.asp';}


    If it is not successful with opening a new window, the user will be redirected to the popupstop.asp page where the user is informed that he/she is using a pop-up blocker and that our domain must be included in the allow list. The above code works with all pop-up blockers.

    Another problem with SP2 and windows is that you cannot set the statusbar to off. Thus, windows set to a certain size will have a smaller visible height than is specified in the window.open() function. This is a problem with many of our pop-up window's and it will require us to add height to the affected window's.

    According to Microsoft SP2 introduces stricter security with handling ActiveX, so far I haven't been able to test this because I have our domain in the trusted zone.

    Finally, Microsoft talks about stricter security when downloading files not executed by the user. So far I haven't experienced any problems with this, so hopefully our application is not affected by this issue.

    To learn more about the required changes that Service Pack 2 introduces have a look at:

    How to Make Your Web Site Work with Windows XP Service Pack 2

    Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Technical preview - Information & download

    If you have any experiences with SP2, let me know and leave a comment.

    Written on 09 June 2004.
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