As expected, Microsoft this morning made its Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate 1 available to anyone interested in trying it out. SP3 RC1 is fundamentally a major roll-up of all security updates that includes 1,073 hotfixes, but it also contains some new features such as a new activation scheme, Network Access Protection Module, Microsoft Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module and a Black Hole Router detection algorithm. Interestingly, performance is possibly an unexpected bonus to installing SP3, according to earlier reports.

Microsoft also released the first major update to Office 2007 today, bringing a slew of stability and performance improvements developed as a result of user input from the Microsoft Online Crash Analysis and from Microsoft Product Support feedback.

The company is also slated to make the RC test build of Vista SP1 available to the general public sometime this week. In the meantime, you can get both Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate 1 and Microsoft Office Suite 2007 Service Pack 1 through our download section.