The Technical Beta
The Technical Beta is the first build, released only to vendors for internal testing since August 2007. It weighs in at just under 350 MB and does not include Internet Explorer 7 or Windows Media Player 11. Even so, it already contains 990 hot fixes and security patches. It's impossible to list them here but they appear to be hot fixes and patches already available for download.
If you are intrepid enough to download the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Technical Beta, do note that there are some outstanding compatibility issues. For starters, it is not compatible with the XMLite component in Internet Explorer 7. If you attempt to install Internet Explorer 7, the installation process will fail and give you an error message.
The only way to install Internet Explorer 7 with Windows XP Service Pack 3 Technical Beta is to install Internet Explorer 7 before installing the Technical Beta. However, Microsoft recommends that you do not do so as Internet Explorer 7 has other compatibility issues with the Technical Beta. For example, double-clicking on the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop will not launch the browser. Instead, it creates a shortcut.
In addition, upgrading to the Technical Beta may cause problems with Windows Media Player. After installation, any attempts to launch Windows Media Player will result in the error message "Windows Media Player is not installed properly and must be reinstalled. Do you want to install the Player from the Microsoft Web site?". To prevent that, you must first install Service Pack 1 or Service Pack 2 before upgrading to the Service Pack 3 Technical Beta.
Although copies of the Service Pack 3 Technical Beta are floating around the Internet, do be wary about downloading and installing any of those binaries. The genuine article is called windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe but filenames are easily changed. It's far more important to make sure its file size is 348,955,008 bytes and it has a CRC32 value of 18604669 and a MD5sum of C3F5E42DC1B7C57844A04C64EE93E391.
The Public Beta
Sometime over the next two weeks, Microsoft will release second build of Service Pack 3. This is the Public Beta that will be made available to everyone for beta testing. Details are still sketchy about this build, but we have it on good authority that Internet Explorer 7 will NOT be part of this build. Microsoft only intends to correct the Internet Explorer 7 compatibility issue in one of the release candidate builds later this year.
In the public beta build and subsequent builds, Microsoft will be adding additional features and bug fixes, particularly those pertaining to application compatibility, instability, data loss, security issues, performance degradation or serious regressions from Windows XP Service Pack 2. However, language support in all pre-release versions will be limited to English, German and Japanese. Full language support will only be delivered in the final Service Pack 3.
If you are really impatient, you can give the Technical Beta a try, but the grapevine says that the public beta will be released pretty soon. Either way, Microsoft says we should have no issue upgrading from build-to-build, e.g. from the Technical Beta to the Public Beta.
Questions & Comments
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