If you've been longing for a more secure version of Windows, Windows XP Service Pack 2, due in mid-2004, should fit the bill. A response to the electronic attacks that crippled Windows PCs worldwide last year, Windows XP SP2 is a crucial upgrade centered on what Microsoft calls security technologies.

I tested a beta of XP SP2 and came away impressed: With a simple installation (I experienced none of the compatibility hassles that some users encountered with SP1), much-needed security enhancements, and a friendlier front-end to wireless networking, XP SP2 is shaping up as a must-have upgrade for all Windows XP users. Service Pack 2 will be free, but Microsoft hasn't yet said how it will distribute the pack.

Read more: PC World.