Windows XP Service Pack 3 – a quick overview

Windows XP is Microsoft’s longest living operating system to date. Released in October 2001, it succeeded the total failure that was Windows Millennium Edition, and has, in turn, been succeeded by Windows Vista. Service Pack 3 is, as implied by the name, the third major upgrade package – Service Pack – released for Windows XP. Unlike SP2, SP3 contains no changes that are directly experienced by the end-user. SP3 was released for download on May 6th, 2008.

SP3 contains all updates released since SP2, and a few new ones. The big thing about SP3 is added back-end functionality, functionality that takes place “behind the scenes” as it were. Some of the functionality in SP3 is previously released, but as optional updates, not as part of a major upgrade. The rest is new, released first with SP3. No functionality stemming from Windows Vista is included, and which includes Internet Explorer 7, although updates to both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 are included.

Previously released functionality:

  • MMC 3.0 – unified and simplified system for system management
  • MSXML6 – improved reliability, security and conformance with XML 1.0
  • Microsoft Windows Installer 3.1 v2
  • BITS 2.5 – Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  • IPSec Simple Policy Update – Simplifies creation and maintenance of IPSec filters
  • DIMS – Digital Identity Management Service
  • PNRP 2.1 – Peer Name Resolution Protocol
  • RDP 6.1 – Improved remote desktop protocol
  • WPA2 – Improved Wi-Fi security

Functionality new to SP3:

  • “Black Hole” router detection turned on by default
  • NAP – Network Access Protection
  • CredSSP Security Service Provider (Available, but turned OFF by default)
  • Descriptive Security Options UI
  • Enhanced security for Administrator and Service policy entries
  • Microsoft Cryptographic Module

The focus has clearly been firmly fixed with regard to addressing security issues.

For more in-depth information on SP3, go here to download an overview of the update, as well as details on deployment.





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