Coming up for Windows XP is Service Pack 1, also known as the “Compliance Edition”. SP1 contains all the Windows Update hotfixes plus a further few regression-tested bug fixes not available through the internet.
Most of the interest in SP1 has centred on the changes Microsoft has made to the applications that are bundled with the operating system, namely Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Messenger, Windows Media Player and the Microsoft Virtual Java Machine.
These are the focus of the US court action against Microsoft, in which it has been found guilty of monopolistic behaviour. SP1 was released partly to mop up all the fixes into a new release (as Microsoft has done in the past) and partly to show the US District Court that Microsoft intended to comply with an agreement it entered into earlier (1995) which specified that the Redmondians shouldn’t bundle applications with Windows.
However, Microsoft is still bundling the above-mentioned applications; SP1 just makes it possible to “hide” them from users. They still can’t be uninstalled from Windows XP. Whether or not this is enough to placate the US judge will be revealed in August.
Other new stuff in SP1 includes support for USB 2.0 and through separate editions, for Mira terminals and FreeStyle digital media PCs; Microsoft’s multimedia API, DirectX 9, however, didn’t make it in time for inclusion. As most of the fixes can be pulled down from the web, there’s no compelling reason to update Windows XP installations en masse.