The first release candidate of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP is now available. Visit Microsoft to download the Standalone Update Package (Windows® XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate).
Microsoft gives the following overview of what to expect:
This is the self-extracting executable that contains the update package for Windows® XP Service Pack 3. Windows® XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) includes all previously released updates for the operating system. This update also includes a small number of new functionalities, which do not significantly change customers’ experience with the operating system.
This pre-release software is provided for testing purposes only. Microsoft does not recommend installing this software on primary or mission critical systems. Microsoft recommends that you have a backup of your data prior to installing any pre-release software.
Early feedback from other users indicate that SP3 provides slightly better overall performance. SP3 also includes NAP (Network Access Protection) support which helps determine your computers “health” before granting access to on-line update services.
For those of you with a somewhat “fishy” XP license, be aware that SP3 will ask you for the product key, but this time AFTER the installation. Just so you know…