Microsoft is broadening its Windows XP Service Pack 2 beta test as of release-candidate 1 (RC1), which the company made available for download Wednesday evening.
Concurrent with the release of the RC1 bits, Microsoft acknowledged that it is continuing to make feature tweaks to SP2 as it inches toward its midyear ship date.
Microsofts Windows XP SP2 is largely—although not exclusively—a security-oriented update to the now-three-year-old Windows XP client. With SP2, Microsoft is turning on its built-in Windows Firewall by default—including new browser and e-mail safeguards—enhancing XPs memory protection features, company officials have said.
Microsoft released a first beta of XP SP2 to a selected group of technical beta testers in late December. In February, Microsoft refreshed the beta bits, with Build No. 2082 of the service pack. As with Beta 1, the 2082 refresh was available to a selected group of private testers.
But as of RC1, Microsoft is making the beta available to its core group of technical beta testers, its TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers and other IT professionals who participate in its technical-preview program. Greg Sullivan, lead product manager with Microsofts Windows division, said the company isnt sure how many testers will participate in the RC1 test, but that it will be a substantially larger pool than is currently testing the service pack.
TechNet members will be able to download RC1 as of Friday, March 19, through a new TechNet portal at http://www.microsoft.com/sp2preview/.
Microsoft officials said to expect at least one more release candidate build before the service pack goes final.
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