Last week, we announced the release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to manufacturing (RTM). Windows XP SP3 includes previously released updates for the OS and also a small number of new updates. The current timeline for XP SP3 availability is as follows: Release to the Web (RTW) on April 29, 2008. Once released to the web, the final service pack will be available for download via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Automatic Update Distribution for users at home is scheduled for the early part of this summer
Obviously the release of a Service Pack is a significant milestone. There are some enhancements to Windows XP SP3 such as Network Access Protection (NAP) that will make it easier for enterprises to co-manage Windows XP and Windows Vista systems during their phased rollouts of Windows Vista. A couple of things to note when installing XP SP3 – if you installed on of the XP SP3 Release Candidate (RC) builds on your XP system, you will need to uninstall the RC build before installing the final version of the service pack.
Below is a table that outlines previously released functionality available to Windows XP in stand-alone updates. These features are included in XP SP3 by default.
MMC 3.0 is a framework that unifies and simplifies day-to-day system management tasks in Windows by providing common navigation, menus, toolbars, and workflow across diverse tools.
Microsoft Knowledge Base article 907265
describes this functionality in detail.
MSXML6 provides better reliability, security, and conformance with the XML 1.0 and XML Schema 1.0 W3C Recommendations. It also provides compatibility with System.Xml 2.0.
Microsoft Windows Installer 3.1 v2
Windows Installer 3.1 is a minor update to Windows Installer 3.0, which Microsoft released in September 2004. Windows Installer 3.1 contains new and enhanced functionality. Additionally, Windows Installer 3.1 addresses some issues that Microsoft found in Windows Installer 3.0.
Microsoft Knowledge Base article 893803
describes this functionality.
Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.5
BITS 2.5 is required by Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and Windows Live™ OneCare™. BITS 2.5 helps improve security. If you use BITS to transfer data, the new features also improve flexibility.
Microsoft Knowledge Base article 923845
describes BITS 2.5.
IPSec Simple Policy Update for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP
This update helps simplify the creation and maintenance of IPsec filters, reducing the number of filters that are required for a server and domain isolation deployment. The Simple Policy Update removes the requirement for explicit network infrastructure permit filters and introduces enhanced fallback to clear behavior.
Microsoft Knowledge Base article 914841
describes this previously released update in more detail.
Digital Identity Management Service (DIMS)
DIMS makes it possible for users who log on to any domain-joined computer to silently access all of their certificates and private keys for applications and services.
This update to Windows XP provides support for WPA2, the latest standards-based wireless security solution derived from the IEEE 802.11i standard.
Microsoft Knowledge Base article 893357
describes this update.
Finally – there are two important things to note:
Windows XP SP3 does not include Internet Explorer 7.
Windows XP SP3 is for x86 (32-bit) versions of XP only. Windows XP Professional x64 editions are serviced by Windows Server 2003 SP2. For more details see the information on
Windows Server 2003 SP2
UPDATE – 4/30:
As many of you have seen on various news web sites, the release of Windows XP SP3 to the Web has been delayed. This was due to an compatibility issue that was discovered between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and Windows XP SP3, and Windows Vista SP1.