Windows XP SP1 Beta 1 Released to Testers

Microsoft on Wednesday made available to testers the first beta of Service Pack 1 for Windows XP Home and Professional editions. Company officials downplayed reports of a radical upgrade, calling SP1 "in most ways a traditional service pack" that is slated to include security fixes, compatibility updates and new drivers issued since XP's launch last October. Over 10,000 beta testers will be given access to download the SP1 beta starting today.

"Of note, included in the security updates will be fixes developed during the security push done by the entire Windows division as part of Microsoft's renewed emphasis on security for customers," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews. "In addition to these traditional elements, Microsoft is fulfilling its commitment to implement the changes required by the consent decree signed with the Department of Justice and nine settling states."

Like Windows 2000 SP3, Windows XP SP1 will included four options to override Microsoft's default applications as defined in the antitrust settlement. Customers will be able to remove, customize, or replace Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger and Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine with middleware of their choice.

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Mira and Freestyle will each make their first appearance in SP1, however the additions will be transparent to most users. Mira enables support for detachable monitors, such as Tablet PCs, but only on Windows XP Professional. Unfortunately for consumers, Freestyle -- a new extra-large XP interface for accessing music, video and photos from across the room via remote control -- will only be accessible to OEMs installing the update on new computers.

The final release of Windows XP Service Pack 1 is set for late this summer, but the schedule could change depending on feedback from beta testers.

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