Microsoft yesterday released a near final Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate to MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
A public XP SP3 RC should become available to IT shops sometime in the near future. The final release of the service pack is due out in the first quarter of 2008 and will coincide with the release of Vista SP1.
Windows XP SP3 does give IT shops a chance to test out Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP), a feature that isolates a laptop to check it for security risks before letting a user get on the network. Last summer, Microsoft said it would include the NAP client for XP in XP SP3.
"We use ISA, so [NAP] is perfect for us," Williamson said, adding that a speed boost in XP SP3 will also make it an easy sell to users. "You know the machines over time just keep slowing down, so that [speed boost over XP SP2] should help."