Windows XP Service Pack 2 (Part 8): Improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express


This article is Part 8 of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide. This article describes improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

To view the other articles in the Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that are listed in the "References" section.

The Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide includes the following topics:
Part 1:  Better security with Service Pack 2

Part 2: Installing Service Pack 2

Part 3: The new Security Center

Part 4: Automatic Updates

Part 5: Virus protection

Part 6: Windows Firewall

Part 7: Protecting against buffer overflows

Part 8: Improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express

Part 9: Uninstalling Service Pack 2

More Information

Part 8: Improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express

Sick and tired of annoying advertising pop-up windows that block your view when you visit a Web site? The Pop-up Blocker, new to Microsoft Internet Explorer in Windows XP SP2, can prevent most unwanted pop-up windows from appearing.

The Pop-up Blocker can be found under Internet Options.
  1. Click Start, point to Control Panel, and then click Internet Options.

    Internet Options icon (Control Panel)
  2. Click the Privacy tab.
    Internet Options window - Privacy tab
    NoteBy default, the Pop-up Blocker is turned on. The Pop-up Blocker prevents most pop-up windows from appearing.
  3. Click Settings to change the default configuration. On the Settings tab, you can perform the following actions:

    • Adjust the filter level (High, Medium, or Low).
    • Allow pop-up windows from a particular Web site. To do this, enter the Web site address under Address of Web site to allow, and then click Add.
    • Play a sound when a pop-up window is blocked.
    • Show the Information Bar when a pop-up window is blocked.
  4. Select your preferred settings, and then click Close.

    Pop-up Blocker settings
    NoteIf you have already opened Internet Explorer, you can also access the Pop-up Blocker. To do this, click Pop-up Blocker on the Tools menu.

Displaying blocked pop-up windows

When a pop-up window is blocked, you will see a corresponding message in the Information Bar. The Information Bar is located directly under the address bar.

Information Bar - Pop-up blocked
Click the Information Bar to display more options.
  • If you click Temporarily Allow Pop-ups, the pop-up window will be reloaded and displayed.
  • If you click Always Allow Pop-ups from This Site, the Web site will be automatically added to the list of exceptions for which pop-up windows are always allowed.
    Information Bar - Pop-up blocked - context menu - Settings
  • If you point to Settings, and then click More Settings, the Pop-up Blocker Settings window will open.

    NoteYou may receive a message that directs attention to the Information Bar. Click to select Do not show this message again, and then click OK.
    Did you notice the Information Bar? message
    TipA Pop-up Blocker icon also appears in the status bar.

    Pop-up Blocker icon (status bar)
    If you click the Pop-up Blocker icon, the same Pop-up Blocker options are displayed that are available when you click the Information Bar.
    Pop-up Blocker icon (status bar) - context menu

The High filter level

The High: Block all pop-ups filter level under the Pop-up Blocker settings blocks all windows. These include those windows that open legitimately when you click a link. For example, the High filter level would block the Windows Update Web site.
Windows Update page - Link that will open new (pop-up) window

If you want to move through the Windows Update Web site, hold down the Ctrl key, and then click the link. This only applies to links that open a new window. Links that display content in the same window function correctly.

Starting downloads and ActiveX installations

Unsolicited downloads and ActiveX installations are also automatically blocked. This provides effective protection against dialers and spyware.

However, should this feature block files or ActiveX elements from trusted sources, click the Information Bar, as you would for a blocked pop-up window, and then click Download file or Installation Blocked - Install ActiveX Control.

Managing add-ins

Add-ins are programs that enhance the functionality of Microsoft Internet Explorer. They include the Google toolbar or Macromedia extensions but may also include "tools" that can damage the computer by "fishing" out private data.

The new add-in management feature lets you display all installed add-ins and to enable or disable individual programs.

  1. Click Start, point to Control Panel, and then click Internet Options.
  2. On the Programs tab, click Manage Add-ons.

    Note Alternatively, you can select Manage Add-ons in the Tools menu in Internet Explorer.

  3. If you want to, select Add-ons that have been used by Internet Explorer from the list.
    Manage Add-Ons window - Add-ons used by IE
  4. If you want to disable an add-in, select the add-in, and then click Disable.
  5. Click OK two times, and then restart Internet Explorer.

    Add-on status confirmation request (restart IE)
    TipAdd-ins are frequently the cause of Internet Explorer crashes. To determine which add-in is causing the crash, disable all add-ins, and then re-enable them one-by-one until the instability occurs again. You can also use add-in crash detection. This provides information about the faulty add-in.

Enhanced e-mail security

Sending infected e-mail is the most practical way for virus programmers to distribute viruses and worms over the Internet. However, they can only do this in HTML messages. Therefore, we recommend that e-mail messages be displayed as unformatted text.
  1. In Outlook Express, click Options on the Tools menu.

  2. Click the Read tab, and then click to select Read all messages in plain text.

    Outlook Express Options - Read tab - Read messages in plain text marked
  3. You can switch to HTML format in individual messages at any time. In the View menu, select Message in HTML.

    Outlook Express - View - Message in HTML
Another new setting enhances security. E-mail messages may contain images called "Web beacons" that are invisible to the recipient. As soon as the e-mail message is opened, the sender is notified that the address is active and is being used. Spammers use this address information to send junk mail. That is why it is now possible to block images and other external content in e-mail messages by default.
  1. In Outlook Express, click Options on the Tools menu.

  2. On the Security tab, click to select Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail.
    Outlook Express Options - Security tab - Block images...

    Blocked images and other content will be replaced by a red X in HTML view.
    Outlook message with blocked images and Information Bar
  3. If you want to view the images, click the Information Bar in the e-mail message.


For more information about the other topics in the Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

889735 Windows XP Service Pack 2 (Part 1)

889736 Installing Service Pack 2 (Part 2)

889737 The new Security Center (Part 3)

889738 Automatic Updates (Part 4)

889739 Virus protection (Part 5)

889740 Windows Firewall (Part 6)

889741 Protecting against buffer overflows (Part 7)

889743 Uninstalling Service Pack 2 (Part 9)
This article is a translation from German. Any subsequent changes or additions to the original German article may not be reflected in this translation. The information that is contained in this article is based on the German-language versions of this product. The accuracy of this information relative to other language versions of this product is not tested within the framework of this translation. Microsoft makes this information available without warranty of its accuracy or functionality and without warranty of the completeness or accuracy of the translation.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.


Article ID: 889742 - Last Review: Oct 23, 2008 - Revision: 1