HelpWithWindows Newsletter Volume 11, Number 8
April 26, 2008

In this issue:

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Finalized

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Windows XP Last Monday, Microsoft announced the completion of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), the final service pack for Windows XP. SP3 will be made available to PC makers and Microsoft's enterprise customers in the coming weeks. Consumers who want to download the update can do so beginning April 29. Windows XP SP3 not only includes all previously released updates for the operating system; it also includes previously released updates to the latest versions of some system components, as well as functionality for improved compatibility with Windows Vista.

"Today we are happy to announce that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) has released to manufacturing (RTM). Windows XP SP3 bits are now working their way through our manufacturing channels to be available to OEM and Enterprise customers." wrote Chris Keroack, the release manager for XP SP3, in a posting to Microsoft's TechNet site. "We are also in the final stages of preparing for release to the web (i.e. you!) on April 29th, via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Online documentation for Windows XP SP3, such as Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and the Microsoft TechNet Windows XP TechCenter, will be updated then. For customers who use Windows XP at home, Windows XP SP3 Automatic Update distribution for users at home will begin in early summer."

Windows XP SP3 includes four minor new features that improve the system's reliability and security. These new features include:

  • Network Access Protection. Announced a few years ago, this feature allows Windows XP machines to interact with the NAP feature in Windows Server 2008.
  • Product Key-less install. As with Windows Vista, new Windows XP with SP3 installs can proceed without entering a product key during Setup.
  • Kernel Mode Cryptographics Module. A new kernel module that "encapsulates several different cryptographic algorithms," according to Microsoft.
  • "Black hole" router detection. Windows XP gains the ability to ignore network routers that incorrectly drop certain kinds of network packets.

Windows XP SP3 should be available for download from the Microsoft Download Web site on April 29th, and will be released through Windows Update / Automatic Updates as a optional update on April 29th, and a critical update on June 10 (meaning that Automatic installation will begin June 10).

Your Comments.

Steve Ballmer calls Vista 'a work in progress'

Steve Ballmer Last week I attended the Microsoft 2008 Global MVP conference. On the closing day I attended a keynote by Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. He had a few interesting comments and things to share, one of which has been widely reported in the news by now, which was his comment that Windows Vista was 'a work in progress'. He got a good round of applause from the 1,700+ MVPs in the audience. Ballmer's words were:

"Windows Vista, a work in progress. (Applause.) Seriously, a very important piece of work, and I think we did a lot of things right, and I think we have a lot of things we need to learn from. Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases. And we just sort of kiss that stone and move on, because it turns out many things become problematic when you have those long release cycles. The design point, what you should be targeting, we can never let that happen again. We had some things that we can't just set the dial back that I think people wish we could.

Vista is bigger than XP, it's going to stay bigger than XP. We have to make sure it doesn't get bigger still, and that the performance, and the battery and the compatibility we're driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve. And yet we did take some important big steps forward with Vista.

So I know I can get a lot of feedback from this crowd. The number one point of feedback always for MVPs is on Windows, I know I get a lot of feedback. I bet if I look I can get a little bit of feedback, I'm sure I can get a lot of constructive feedback, and believe me, top of mind for me, for Ray (Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect) and the senior team here is making sure that we continue to drive forward, and take the good work that we did in Vista, take the chance for improvement and progress, and drive forward."

Unfortunately we didn't receive any more specific info on Microsoft's future plans; either for Vista or for the next version of Windows (currently being referred to as "Windows 7"), but it is clear that Microsoft will try to avoid the lengthy development process that marred Vista. We'll have to see how well they will do in the near future. Right now the consensus is that Microsoft wants to ship "Windows 7" by 2010.

On Windows XP's availability Ballmer had the following to say:

"In the meantime, we have some customers, a lot of customers using Vista, a lot of customers, and we have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that. I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore, and we responded, XP is still available. And I know we're going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available.


Microsoft Forefront codename "Stirling" Beta

Microsoft Forefront codename "Stirling" is an integrated security system that delivers comprehensive, coordinated protection across endpoints, messaging and collaboration servers and the network edge that is easier to manage and control.

By delivering simplified management and providing critical visibility into threats, vulnerabilities, and configuration risks, "Stirling" helps reduce costs and achieve greater insight into the enterprise security state.

Supported OS: Windows Server 2003 SP2; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista; Windows XP SP2

More Information & Download

Windows Vista Tip: Taming Vista's User Account Control

Although Microsoft's intentions were good when they decided to design the User Account Control (UAC) feature* for Windows Vista, the end result was less than desirable, especially for the 'more than average' users who use their PCs for more things then to surf the Internet & read email.

Read Full Article

Latest Microsoft & Windows News from around the Internet

Free Windows Server 2008 Trial and Guided Evaluation

Download a trial of Windows Server 2008 and register for the guided evaluation experience.

More Information

Microsoft To End Outlook Express Hotmail Support

Microsoft has begun alerting Outlook Express (OE) users that it will no longer support accessing the Hotmail Web-based email service from OE after June 30 this year. Instead, the company says users should use the free Windows Live Mail application, which can be downloaded from Windows Live.

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We've got some opinions on that. We've expressed our views, but certainly with this crowd, Steveb@Microsoft.com. I'm always interested in hearing from you on these and other issues."

While stopping short of offering any indication that Microsoft might (further) extend Windows XP's lifecycle, this comment - added to another comment he recently made at an event in Belgium where he told the audience: "XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now, we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments", does seem to indicate that Microsoft might be persuaded by its customers to extend Windows XP's life. OEM computer makers are still scheduled to have to stop selling models with Windows XP installed by the end of June this year.

Another interesting 'feedback' point occurred when Web search was discussed:

Steve Ballmer: "I need to get my annual feedback. How many of you use Live Search as your default? (A few dozen hands were raised.) How many of you use Yahoo Search as your default? (No hands were raised.) Let's try that one again. How many of you use Yahoo Search as your default? (One or two hands were raised.) Wow, we offered 31 bucks a share. How many of you use Google as your default? (Nearly everyone raised their hand.) I'm going to make you a deal. I'm going to make you a deal, I'm going to make you a deal. Here's the deal, we're going to do some stuff this year which I'm sure will be important to this crowd around blog search. After we do the stuff around blog search, I'm going to ask you for one thing, and I'm asking for it personally, just me, we'll send you a little reminder tickler mail, I'm sure I can get Toby (Toby Richards, Microsoft GM, Community Support Services) to do that, but I'm going to pick a week later this year after we get our new blog stuff in place, which I think is probably pretty important for this crowd, and I'm going to ask you, it's all voluntary, but I'm going to ask you one week switch your default, one week. At the end of the week, I want you to send me mail, I'm going to make it SteveBfoo instead of my normal SteveB account, but I'll want feedback, how was your week, what happened, what did you like, what didn't you like with all of the tenacity, and intensity, and passion, and insights that this group can bring."

You can read a transcript of the entire keynote on the Microsoft Web site.

Your Comments.

Windows Updates

Microsoft issued a number of updates for Windows Vista & Windows XP in the past weeks:

Windows Vista:

  • KB937286 - Update to copy a local version of key help topics available in the "Online Help" feature of Windows Vista.
  • KB947562 - Update to resolve a set of known application compatibility issues with Windows Vista.
  • KB950127 - Update to resolve an issue where a crash occurs in ks.sys when upgrading to Windows Vista SP1.
  • KB949758 - Update to enable remote management of a Windows Server 2008 computer running the Hyper-V RC0 role.
  • KB932156 - Update to resolve an issue where certificate information cannot be viewed in either Internet Explorer 7 or Certificate Manager after successfully importing a certificate on a system running Windows Vista.

Windows XP:

  • KB942763 - Update to enable your computer to automatically adjust the computer clock on the correct date in 2007 and 2008 due to revised Daylight Saving Time laws in many countries.
  • KB940275 - Update to resolve issues that may occur after applying security update 930178 (MS07-021) on a system running Windows XP SP2.

Windows Newsletter Schedule

Next week I'll be traveling to Hawaii for a short vacation, a good escape from the below average temperatures in the Pacific North-West. Since we're scheduled to return on May 9th, the next newsletter won't be published on May 10th, but a week later on May 17th instead.


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