Windows XP SP3 pack includes new XML parser, enhanced IP security

At the end of April, Microsoft is expected to release Windows XP SP3. Earlier this month, the company released an Overview document about the forthcoming Windows XP Service Pack 3. Given changes to XML support, policy settings, access controls, and cryptographic capabilities, developers who have constructed code for the Windows XP runtime environment may want to read the release notes and related KB documents carefully, because they may either need or want to update their own code to take cognizance or advantage of the brave new runtime world that Windows XP SP3 is almost ready to provide.

The overview document does provide some pretty good coverage about what SP3 will include, and falls into two categories: First, previously released functionality for which SP3 serves as a kind of “roll-up” to make sure all XP users who install the software get these updates; and second, new and enhanced functionality that adds to Windows XP’s capabilities, even for those who’ve already installed SP2.

In the roll-up category, here’s what you’ll find included:

  • Microsoft Management Console 3.0: A framework to unify and simplify system management tasks through common navigation, menus, toolbars, and workflow across multiple tools. See KB article 907265 for all the gory details.
  • MSXML6: Microsoft’s internal XML parsing engine gets an update that conforms more closely to existing XML and XML Schema standards, and one that complies with MS’s own System.Xml 2.0 implementation. Very helpful for those who interact with XML data in any form.
  • MS Windows Installer 3.1 v2 (3.1.4000.2435): A minor update to Installer 3.0 (released in September 2004), that includes some new and enhanced capability plus bug fixes to previous version.
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) 2.5: Works with MS System Center Configuration Manager and Windows Live OneCare, and helps improve flexibility and security.
  • IPsec Simple Policy Update for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP: Helps simplify creation and upkeep of IPsec filters.
  • Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) 2.1: Lets Windows XP-SP3 programs that employ PNRP communicate with Vista programs that also use this protocol.
  • WPA2: Updates Windows XP to support WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2), a current 802.11i security standard for wireless networking; covered in KB article 893357.

Here’s what falls under the heading of new or enhanced functionality:

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