The third service pack for the Windows XP operating system has now officially entered the beta testing phase. According to an article at neosmart.net (link points to a network mirror, since the site is down), there are 1,073 patches in this service pack, a testament to how long it's been since SP2 was released. What I find most interesting, however, is that Microsoft is back-porting features from Vista into this service pack. A few specific features have been mentioned:
- New Windows Product Activation model
- Network Access Protection modules and policies
- New Microsoft Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module
- New "Black Hole Router" detection
Could these back-ported features be a sign that Microsoft is getting ready to drop Vista? Take up on the new operating system has reportedly been very slow, with the large vendors (HP, Dell, etc.) requesting XP preloads instead of Vista, due to customer demand. Microsoft has always been its own biggest competitor, and this could be a sign of a power struggle within the corporation (XP teams vs. Vista teams). If they do indeed pull the plug, I predict a collective sigh of relief from around the globe. Only time will tell what happens.