Public Test for XP Service Pack 3
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Microsoft announced late Tuesday that it has widened testing of the next service pack for Windows XP to anyone who wants to take it for a test drive.
That is, Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Release Candidate 2 (RC2) is now available from Microsoft's Download Center.
"Were broadening the availability of the release candidate in order to receive further user feedback prior to the release of Windows XP SP3," a company spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.
In Microsoft parlance, a "release candidate" is the final phase of testing before a product or service pack is officially released. The current schedule for XP SP3 calls for official release sometime during the first half of the year.
The SP3 documentation states that Windows XP SP3 "includes all previously released Windows XP updates, including security updates and hotfixes, and select out-of-band releases." It does add one important new feature, however. SP3 provides support for Network Access Protection a technology for quarantining untrusted PCs from the network -- that's coming in Windows Server 2008, which is set to ship this month.
[cob:Related_Articles]There has been much debate over whether the arrival of XP SP3 will further slow the adoption of Windows Vista. Indeed, Vista SP1 has been released to manufacturing and is due out this month.
In fact, demand from PC OEMs was still high enough last summer that Microsoft was forced to extend the time period that they could continue to sell systems with XP pre-installed from January 30, 2008 until June 30, 2008.