Windows XP Fans, Your Christmas Present Has Arrived


A Different "RC" Flavor: Windows XP SP3!

Need some diversion after the last present is opened and the last piece of candy from the stockings have been devoured? Give Windows XP SP3 RC a try . It's a 336MB download.

Roll Up the Updates

SP3 rolls up all previously-released updates into a single package. Microsoft's documentation for SP3 highlights just a few you might have missed (but your system administrator probably didn't):

  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0 ( KB907265 )
  • Microsoft XML 6.0 Microsoft Windows Installer 3.1 ( KB907265 )
  • BITS 2.5, a service used by Windows Live OneCare and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 ( KB923845 )
  • WPA2 Wi-Fi Security, the strongest form of WPA security ( KB893357
  • Peer Name Resolution Protocol 2.1, to enable XP SP3 programs that use PNRP to communicate with Vista programs that use PNRP ( KB920342 )

Other bundled updates include changes to IPSec virtual private networking and a new service for logging into domains (DIMS).

SP1 Users, Rejoice! SP3 Includes SP2 (and SP1)!

Windows XP SP3 includes both SP1 and SP2, so if your system's been under a rock and missed SP2 (or if you're doing a fresh install from an original Windows XP or XP SP1 disc), you can install SP3 anyway. However, you must have SP1 installed to use SP3 .

Here's What New in SP3 (Not a Whole Lot, to Be Honest)

SP3 adds the following new features:

  • "Black Hole" router detection is enabled by default
  • Support for Network Access Protection (NAP), a feature in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008
  • The Security Options dialog in Control Panel now includes an "Explain This Setting" tab to help keep you from making security setting goofs.
  • Enhanced security for Administrator and Service policy entries in System Center Essentials
  • New kernel mode Cryptographic driver
  • No product key needed for SP3 installation; it's requested after installation

Microsoft's been warning XP SP2 users that SP3 wasn't going to include a lot of new functionality - and they were right. Most of the changes in SP3 are not going to be visible to end-users.

I've Got XP x64! Where's My Update?

Windows XP SP3 is for 32-bit versions of Windows only. x64 users should install Windows Server 2003 SP2 , which has been around awhile (over a year, in fact).

For More Information

As usual, Microsoft has lots of documentation you can grab, including

Just a reminder: this is the Release Candidate, so it's a step better than beta, but it's not quite ready for prime time . You might want to try it on the experimental box, not your deathmatch special .

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