Windows XP Service Pack 3 - Will it turn XP into Vista?

Microsoft is currently cooking the third and last service pack for Windows XP. Released back at the end of 2001, and overhauled in 2004 with the introduction of Service Pack 2, the next refresh for XP is long overdue.

Microsoft's own game with Service Pack 3, involving numerous and repeated delays, helped not only XP SP2 to dig in its roots deep enough to provide a consistent inhouse competition to Windows Vista, but also managed to starve XP users, already terribly hungry for a major update to their operating system.

In mid July, concomitantly with the pre-beta release of Vista SP1, Microsoft also delivered a limited preview of XP SP3, confirming that the service pack was right on track for general availability in the first half of 2008. With Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed Longhorn, pushed to the foreground, the next development milestone for XP SP3 shipped after the first beta for Vista SP1 and the Release Candidate 0 of Microsoft's last 32-bit server operating system. The late availability date for XP SP3, in comparison with the synchronized releases for Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 is a clear indication that the operating system is being strategically kept in the background.

But while this is indeed valid for the company, Windows XP users and Microsoft partners play to a different tune. According to data from Net Applications, Windows XP still accounts for 79.32% of the operating system market. This while Windows Vista's share has grown from near to nothing at launch to over 7.3%, an indication that Microsoft has passed the 70 million shipped licenses in the operating system's first eight months on the market. And if Vista keeps its current adoption pace, it is unlikely that Microsoft will reach the 100 million sold copies mark, roughly equivalent to 10% of the operating system market by the end of 2007, even taking into consideration the holiday shopping spree.

In this context, Windows XP will continue to account for the lion's share of the estimated 1 billion install base of the Windows platform, in the first half of 2008, despite the release of Vista SP1. Undoubtedly, some XP users will ignore Vista SP1, wait for XP SP3, and ride the aging operating system launched in 2001, until 2010 when Windows 7, Vista's successor is planned for launch. Microsoft's perspective in this case is that such a move is nothing more than ignoring the inevitable, and the inevitable is of course synonymous with Windows Vista, for the company.

At this point in time, Microsoft will retire mainstream support for Windows XP in 2009, and extended support in 2014. But after caving in to the sheer pressure from end users and original equipment manufacturers, the company will continue to sell XP via the retail and OEM channels throughout mid 2008, and via system builders until the end of January 2009. This, along with XP SP3 is bound to deliver quite an impact onto the operating system market, that XP is already hugging to the point of asphyxiation, leaving Vista with little room to breathe, SP1 or no SP1.

Installing SP3 on top of XP SP2 won't make the operating system a Vista equivalent. Sure enough, Microsoft has backported some Vista specific features, functionality and capabilities to XP via SP3, and more could be in the works, although the company did not confirm such a scenario. Still, the Vista additions to XP SP3 involve revamped descriptive options to the graphical interface of the Security Center. On top of this, XP SP3 will also support FIPS 140-1 Level 1 cryptography implemented as a DLL at kernel level, opening up new algorithms to developers via the Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module. The black hole router detection system will be evolved along with the integration of Vista's Network Access Protection module.

SP3 will also feature a range of items previously available as standalone downloads including: Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.5; IPsec Simple Policy Update; Microsoft Core XML Services 6.0; Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0; Digital Identity Management Service (DIMS); Peer Name Resolution Protocol 2.1; Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2 and Windows Installer 3.1 v2. So it is obvious that SP3 won't turn the operating system into Vista, but as far as end users are concerned, this is nothing short of a positive aspect.

Microsoft has now opened Windows XP SP3 Beta Preview Build 3205 to over 12,000 Windows Vista SP1 beta and Windows Server 2008 testers. The build has also been leaked to peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and Microsoft is preparing a public beta of the service pack.


Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Source Code