Facts & Figures
Home & Pro Differences
Behind the New Wheel
Folders & Special Folders
Looking at 'My Pictures'
Windows Media Player 8
Internet Explorer 6.0
Backup & Restore
Hardware and Setup
Will Your Programs Run?
While it's no substitute for a dedicated two-way firewall product like ZoneLab's ZoneAlarm, Windows XP's Personal Firewall feature isn't a bad basic line of defense. It only blocks incoming hacks, not outgoing leaks. When used in conjunction with a real hardware or software firewall, it creates a very solid line of defense.
You enable the Personal Firewall feature on the Properties sheet of the network connection for which you want to add protection. Basic setup is as simple as clicking a checkbox. More advanced configuration, such as allowing incoming traffic on specific ports for servers, requires selecting the services in question from a list and supplying a little additional information. For the most part, though, the default configuration works fine. One added nice touch is that, when you have a particular connection protected with the firewall, the connection icon changes to a red square.
To test its mettle, we used Gibson Research's Shields Up! test page, which lets you scan your network connection for common security holes. Shields Up! reported the computer as being entirely "stealth" mode, the best score you can get. (Note: This isn't a true firewall test, but it does show whether you have the basic protections everyone should have.) As expected, a quick test with Gibson Research's LeakTest tool showed that a malicious local application could penetrate the firewall from the inside out.
Files and Settings Transfer Wizard
One problem with the File and Settings Transfer Wizard is that if you select a file type to move, such as *.TXT, and you have a great many text files scattered across your old system, you will have a plethora of spurious folders recreated on your new system with nothing in them except the odd *.TXT file. Thankfully, the selection of which files and folders to move is fully customizable.
Firewire is a Plug and Play architecture device, so setting up the controller involved nothing more than adding it and letting the system detect it. Once you plug in a camera, the Windows Movie Maker application starts up automatically, and offers you the option to digitize footage you've shot manually or automatically. I've played with the Movie Maker before and it's highly rudimentary, not offering anything more sophisticated than being able to splice together clips. There's also native support for 1394 networking and printing.