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Which of Windows 2k Pro Sp4 and Win XP Pro Sp2 is more secure and why?

Posted on 2004-10-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I work for a secure web host company and we mainly use linux or bsd operating systems for the services we provide. However we got into a debate over the relative merits of the different operating systems. I am aware most vulnerabilities on windows based systems come from the closed source apps they are running. but it came down to the client wanting to know one or the other of those 2. Does XP have any merits over 2K? and how come 2K has had 4 services packs while XP has required only 2. does XP offer anything 2k does not and vice versa.
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Question by:TranquilRage
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nihlcat earned 125 total points
ID: 12368625
I am sure other experts can weigh in with more detailed information, but I think you find more SPs in W2K because, well, it came first, and it can be a little 'buggy'.  It was only a matter of time before the 'bad people' found the security hacks.  It's the way of any MS product, the longer it's supported life, the more SPs it will have.  

Anyway, XP SP2 does have a built in software firewall that seems to work rather well, W2K does not.
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by:jimwasson
jimwasson earned 125 total points
ID: 12370510
Microsoft has a feature comparison matrix that may be useful to you:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/evaluation/whyupgrade/featurecomp.mspx

I run both and personally find XP somewhat faster, particularly to boot up and shut down. Additionally, XP SP2 has a lot of security enhancements that are not available in Win2K.

Short-Media has an interesting test of SP1 v s SP2 here:

http://kama.sarcnet.com/xpsp1vsxpsp2_page1.html
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by:KerryG
KerryG earned 125 total points
ID: 12371008
XP is inherently a more secure operating system than W2K is since technology has improved a lot since Win2K was developed. Of course, the older the operating system, the more service packs and hotfixes will be available. Windows NT has 6 service packs.

As for the merits, Windows XP (as a desktop environment) offers a more stable platform than Win2K and a wealth of new features including many security enhancements.

I am a little confused by your question since you started saying you work for a hosting company. Are you asking about the merits of using XP vs. Win2K as a hosting platform? In that case you would want to compare Win2K vs Win2K3 which is actually a lot of differences and options (3 versions of Win2K3 server). I have found Win2K3 to be a highly reliable hosting platform and the new features in IIS6 make managing it much easier.

As for security, you are not entirely correct, a large percentage of security holes are within the operating system  and are caused by buffer underrun and buffer overflow problems. The key to security on Windows (and all versions of Unix) is to install all security patches the moment they come out. Recently, a vulnerability was announced along with a fix for it and 17 days later a worm was released that took advantage of that vulnerability. Systems that had the latest security patches were unaffected.
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by:Gargantubrain
Gargantubrain earned 125 total points
ID: 12371175
Windows 2000 has been out longer, thus Microsoft has released more service packs for it. Like NT 4.0 with SP6, you will eventually see a point where 2000 no longer receives service packs as Microsoft will move on and stop spending money to keep updating a "retired" OS.

XP was built based on 2000, so it already started out with the benefits of 2000's first few service packs under its belt, so to speak.

XP starts up and shuts down much faster, which can make a big difference if you have to shut down the OS during small windows of time.

XP will not be a "server" operating system like 2000 and 2003 can be. XP is only out in Home and Pro versions. It can be a stable OS, no doubt about it, but it is not going to run your domain. We have an XP machine here that is a specialized web application server, and it's current uptime is:
Current System Uptime: 81 day(s), 11 hour(s), 54 minute(s), 35 second(s)

There are some apps and features, such as RPC over HTTP (rather than a separate VPN connection), that require Windows 2003 on the web server. There are also legal licensing requirements that you may not adhere to when running some types of web apps on XP; you will have to consult Microsoft's licensing.
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Expert Comment

by:happythedog
ID: 12384615
windows 2000 has been out longer , most of the holes are known its capabilities have been proven , jurys still out on xp.
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