In this issue:
Windows XP Service Pack 3 Finalized
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
Last Monday, Microsoft announced the completion of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), the final service pack for Windows XP. SP3 will be made available to PC makers and Microsoft's enterprise customers in the coming weeks. Consumers who want to download the update can do so beginning April 29. Windows XP SP3 not only includes all previously released updates for the operating system; it also includes previously released updates to the latest versions of some system components, as well as functionality for improved compatibility with Windows Vista.
"Today we are happy to announce that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) has released to manufacturing (RTM). Windows XP SP3 bits are now working their way through our manufacturing channels to be available to OEM and Enterprise customers." wrote Chris Keroack, the release manager for XP SP3, in a posting to Microsoft's TechNet site. "We are also in the final stages of preparing for release to the web (i.e. you!) on April 29th, via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Online documentation for Windows XP SP3, such as Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and the Microsoft TechNet Windows XP TechCenter, will be updated then. For customers who use Windows XP at home, Windows XP SP3 Automatic Update distribution for users at home will begin in early summer."
Windows XP SP3 includes four minor new features that improve the system's reliability and security. These new features include:
- Network Access Protection. Announced a few years ago, this feature allows Windows XP machines to interact with the NAP feature in Windows Server 2008.
- Product Key-less install. As with Windows Vista, new Windows XP with SP3 installs can proceed without entering a product key during Setup.
- Kernel Mode Cryptographics Module. A new kernel module that "encapsulates several different cryptographic algorithms," according to Microsoft.
- "Black hole" router detection. Windows XP gains the ability to ignore network routers that incorrectly drop certain kinds of network packets.
Windows XP SP3 should be available for download from the Microsoft Download Web site on April 29th, and will be released through Windows Update / Automatic Updates as a optional update on April 29th, and a critical update on June 10 (meaning that Automatic installation will begin June 10).
Steve Ballmer calls Vista 'a work in progress'
Last week I attended the Microsoft 2008 Global MVP conference. On the closing day I attended a keynote by Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. He had a few interesting comments and things to share, one of which has been widely reported in the news by now, which was his comment that Windows Vista was 'a work in progress'. He got a good round of applause from the 1,700+ MVPs in the audience. Ballmer's words were:
"Windows Vista, a work in progress. (Applause.) Seriously, a very important piece of work, and I think we did a lot of things right, and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from. Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases. And we just sort of kiss that stone and move on, because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting, we can never let that happen again. We had some things that we can't just set the dial back that I think people wish we could.
Vista is bigger than XP, it's going to stay bigger than XP. We have to make sure it doesn't get bigger still, and that the performance, and the battery and the compatibility we're driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve. And yet we did take some important big steps forward with Vista.
So I know I can get a lot of feedback from this crowd. The number one point of feedback always for MVPs is on Windows, I know I get a lot of feedback. I bet if I look I can get a little bit of feedback, I'm sure I can get a lot of constructive feedback, and believe me, top of mind for me, for Ray (Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect) and the senior team here is making sure that we continue to drive forward, and take the good work that we did in Vista, take the chance for improvement and progress, and drive forward."
Unfortunately we didn't receive any more specific info on Microsoft's future plans; either for Vista or for the next version of Windows (currently being referred to as "Windows 7"), but it is clear that Microsoft will try to avoid the lengthy development process that marred Vista. We'll have to see how well they will do in the near future. Right now the consensus is that Microsoft wants to ship "Windows 7" by 2010.
On Windows XP's availability Ballmer had the following to say:
"In the meantime, we have some customers, a lot of customers using Vista, a lot of customers, and we have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that. I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore, and we responded, XP is still available. And I know we're going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available.