XP Service Pack 3… Meh

I’ve done four updates to XP SP3 in the last few hours. My first impressions, there’s nothing earth shattering here per se. To be fair, Microsoft themselves have kept the expectations low for this service pack as it is largely a roll-up of patches that are already out there. But there are new features:

  • Improved detection of so-called black hole routers: If you’re a sysadmin, you care about this. But if you’re a home user, it’s a big “so what?”
  • Network Access Protection: This was added mainly to enhance networking functionality with the forthcoming Windows Server 2008. Another “so what” for home users.
  • Menu text in the security options control panel has been updated: This change makes it more descriptive of the various options in the security options which should make it easier for users to decide which settings to tweak and how.
  • Windows Product Activation has changed: This change makes the XP installation process more like Vista, which means you’ll no longer be forced to input your Windows product activation key during installation (although you’ll still have to activate within 30 days or XP will stop working). It also means that if you make significant hardware changes, the activation nanny will appear.

I also noticed the following things:

  • The reboot after the install was much longer. That’s not unusual as other service packs for XP have done the same thing. But what’s different is it also makes you choose to allow or not allow automatic installs of updates. (I chose not to allow it to automatically install updates)
  • It made MSN Live Messenger repair install itself the first time I ran it. I saw this repeated this on two other computers, but I don’t know what caused this.
  • So far I haven’t found anything that doesn’t work. But it’s early days yet.

Other than the above, my computers aren’t any faster after the update. Also they aren’t any more stable as they were rather stable before the update. Overall, this is a big yawn. Which isn’t a bad thing per se.

Perhaps that’s exactly what Microsoft needed.

One Response to “XP Service Pack 3… Meh”

  1. The Network Access Protection is pretty slick. I saw it working at the Server 2008 launch event in February. If a machine plugs into a network with NAP turned on and is not up to date with patches, or does not have AV, or many other settings you can adjust, it will not be granted access to the network. This is configurable as well. You can limit the machine to internet only access so that the user can download the required patches, etc.

    Of course, like all Microsoft products, failure is not an option it is bundled with it! I am sure this will lead to some headaches for network admins.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: