Microsoft released a release candidate of the long delayed Windows XP SP3 to Microsoft MSDN (Microsoft Software Development Network) and TechNet subscribers on Dec. 3. The release comes about a month after a beta release of SP3 was made available to about 15,000 users.
With customers still showing no eagerness to move to Vista, interest has been building in XP SP3. While there’s little when it comes to new features in SP3, it does include a roll-up of the several hundred fixes that Microsoft has published for XP since XP SP2 arrived in August 2004, significant security and stability fixes, and a handful of new features.
While there have been reports that XP SP3 also increased its application speed by about 10 percent over SP2, this isn’t an attempt to benchmark or review XP SP3.
Betas and release candidates are, by their very nature, subject to a good deal of change between the version that a small group of testers sees and what will finally end up in users’ hands. It is noteworthy, though, that in a later apples-to-apples comparison Office 2003 on Vista SP1 vs. Office 2003 on XP SP3 on the same PC-XP still ran faster than XP SP2 and almost twice as fast as Vista SP1.