Microsoft announced SP3 for Windows XP today. This white paper gives an overview of its content. It will ship on April 29th through Windows Update. Many of the updates are related to improved management, which makes sense at this stage of the game for the OS. It also makes sense as a attempt to position the OS against the rising desktop Linux threat. I wanted to see what specific management-related updates were contained. They are:
- MMC (Microsoft Management Console) 3.0
- MSI (Microsoft Windows Installer) 3.1 v2
- BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) 2.5
- NAP (Network Access Protection)
- Some changes in default security settings for System Center Essentials policies
This is all good but it seems to take a very System Center-centric view of Windows management. There may be some more third-party-friendly improvements in the complete list of updates contained, but the link provided by the white paper (Knowledge Base article 936929) doesn’t seem to work at this time.
This was announced by Chris Keroack, the release manager for SP3, on this forum.
I can’t resist the temptation to translation into common English a few selected sentences from the white paper:
“For customers with existing Windows XP installations, Windows XP SP3 fills gaps in the updates they might have missed—for example, by declining individual updates when using Automatic Updates…”
Translation: You obviously did not know what you were doing when you refused that update last year so we will now force it on you inside a bundle.
“Developing service packs for operating systems like Windows XP, which is nearing its end-of-sales period, is a standard practice, and Microsoft does this for the convenience of its customers and partners.”
Translation: Don’t get too excited you will still eventually have to move to Vista.
“With few exceptions, Microsoft is not adding Windows Vista features to Windows XP through SP3. As noted earlier, one exception is the addition of NAP to Windows XP to help organizations running Windows XP to take advantage of new features in Windows Server 2008.”
Translation: We are not going to let this cut into the sales of Vista, except when not doing it cuts into the sales of Windows Server 2008.
[UPDATED 2008/4/29: Turns out it’s not shipping today on Windows Update, as previously announced, because SP3 breaks Microsoft’s own Retail Management System (RMS) application. As does Vista SP1. I wonder if other vendors can also ask Microsoft to hold a service pack if it breaks their application…]
[UPDATED 2008/5/12: And when it does ship it causes some computers to fail to boot. This page has a lot of information. One of my machines is one of the affected AMD-based HP desktop with OEM OS so I am very happy to have seen this before applying the service pack. I think I’ll take my time to apply it in case other things shop up in adddition to the need to disable the Intel drivers. This KB article covers the same issue.]