Microsoft's Windows Vista predecessor, Windows XP, last week saw the release of Service Pack 3 (SP3) beta for a select group of testers. The latest SP3 beta is labeled as build 3205 and is a rather small 334.92 MB download which, according to NeoSmart, contains 1,073 hotfixes and patches along with new features and components, most of which have been backported from Windows Vista.

The enhancements include a new activation scheme that will not require a product key during installation and a network access protection module first featured in Windows Vista. Other new features include improved support for cryptographic algorithms and a Black Hole Router detection algorithm.

Slated to be released early in 2008, Windows XP SP3 will be the last major update to the six-year-old operating system, which last month received a five month reprieve when Microsoft pushed back the end of retail sales and sales of XP-powered systems by large resellers to June 30, 2008.