The announcement from Microsoft that they will extend the sales date of Windows XP till June 30th 2008, coupled with consumer unhappiness over Vista, has spilled over into a renewed focus on Service Pack 3 for Windows XP.
Traditionally, Microsoft has rolled out some new features in Service Packs, but clearly the focus of Service Pack 3 for XP will be on the included 1,073 hotfixes and 114 security related patches
The latest build of Service Pack 3 for XP is labeled “build 3205” and is a bit smaller than the last reported beta release checking in at a more manageable 335MB. In addition to the hotfixes and security related patches, Microsoft has introduced a new activation scheme that is Vista-like in the fact that it does not require a product key during the installation process.
Another new feature is the new Network Access Protection Module, which also first appeared in Windows Vista. Microsoft will also be including a new Kernel Mode Crytographics Module and a Black Hole Router detection algorithm.
While OEMs such as Dell and HP are offering XP as an option on select new systems, some OEMs are offering downgrades from Windows Vista to customers that want to run Windows XP. PC Gamers continue to shun Windows Vista for its lower performance and compatibility issues with many games and gaming related utilities, although only Vista supports the new Direct X 10 standards that are being added into some gaming titles that will be released this holiday season.
While the debate continues on how much Direct X 10 abilities really adds to the overall gaming experience, gamers seem to care less at this point as Vista exclusive gaming titles have not really done well sales-wise.
All of this coupled with the release of Service Pack 3 for XP could have an adverse effect for Microsoft of igniting new life into Windows XP, which has not seen a major Service Pack update in several years. Even with the upcoming service pack release for Vista, Microsoft is going to be hard pressed to get businesses and consumers off the Windows XP platform while Vista continues to earn such a negative rap.
Those who have purchased a new PC that included Vista in many cases are spreading word of their negative experience with the OS which seems to have labeled Vista with a worse reputation than it maybe deserves. It will be interesting to watch the battle of the Service Packs for XP and Vista to see what overall effect it has on the market place in general.