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When should a client use XP SP3 rather than upgrading to Vista or another OS?

Learn the new components of Windows XP SP3 including black hole router detection and network access protection. Compare XP SP3 features to Vista and decide whether upgrading to Vista or another operating system is a worthwhile venture.

When should a client use XP SP3 rather than upgrading to Vista or another OS?
Windows XP Service Pack 3 includes all updates and patches which may or may not have been installed on the client. It also includes several new components to help with "black hole" router detection, Network Access Protection (NAP, which helps with health monitoring and compliance enforcement), a Credential Security Service Provider, a Descriptive Security Options User Interface (which explains security settings in greater depth), enhanced security for Administrator and Service policy entries and the Microsoft Cryptographic Module. For some companies, some of these components might be compelling features for upgrading to the service pack.

Almost one-and-a-half years after the release of Vista, XP remains entrenched in the enterprise. Ignoring the eye candy, Vista has robust security, IPv6 support, ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive which offer faster performance, BitLocker encryption, Windows Imaging Format, Windows Deployment Services, Windows Presentation Services, Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and Click Once technologies. While the developer improvements are very powerful, they are Vista specific and their adoption has not been significant. This may be due to the fact that most software development is not Windows OS version specific. However, for some enterprises these features are compelling and will encourage adoption to Vista.

For most enterprises, Service Pack 3 features will either be compelling or applied for best practice reasons. The decision to move to Vista is one that would have been made over a year ago, and XP Service Pack 3 will add little to the migration decision but will rather keep enterprises on a five-year-old OS.

This was first published in July 2008

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