Microsoft evolved the beta for the third and final service pack for Windows XP from build 3180 to 3205, and opened access to the Preview version of the refresh to all Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 Beta testers. Still, while the Redmond company initially stated that the service pack would bring only minor enhancements to the table in terms of performance, reliability and compatibility, along with the implementation of the hotfixes and the security updates issued since SP2 in 2004, Build 3205 contradicts Microsoft. Windows XP SP3 will also deliver new features, and in this sense the receive pack got a taste of Windows Vista. In this context, Microsoft
introduced the Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module and the Network Access Protection into XP SP 3 Beta Build 3205.
“Microsoft Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module is a FIPS 140-1 Level 1 compliant, general-purpose, software-based, cryptographic module residing at the Kernel Mode level of the Windows Operating System. It runs as a kernel mode export driver (a kernel-mode DLL) and encapsulates several different cryptographic algorithms in an easy-to-use cryptographic module accessible by other kernel mode drivers. It can be linked into other kernel mode services to permit the use of FIPS 140-1 Level 1 compliant cryptography,” Microsoft explained.
“Network Access Protection (NAP) is a policy enforcement platform built into Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 (now in beta testing) that allows you to better protect your private network by enforcing compliance with computer health requirements. For example, a firewall must be installed and enabled and the latest operating system updates must be installed. With NAP, you can create customized health requirement policies to validate computer health before allowing network access or communication, automatically update compliant computers to ensure ongoing compliance, and optionally confine noncompliant computers to a restricted network until they become compliant,” reads Microsoft’s description of NAP.
On top of these new features, XP SP3 Beta Build 3205 also comes with an overhauled product activation process. Essentially, XP SP3 will no longer require users to introduce a product key during the setup process of the operating system. Instead the installation experience will be similar to what Windows Vista has to offer, permitting users to deploy the operating system and test-drive the product throughout the Initial Grace period. In addition, XP SP3 will also feature a redesigned Security Options control panel, with extra information associated with the settings offered to users. The final service pack for XP, currently planned by mid 2008, after the release of Windows Vista SP1, will also deliver enhanced security for Administrator and Service policy entries.