Windows XP SP3

Pros: Aggregates all previous fixes; adds a few new Vista-like features
Cons: Delayed in coming; last XP service pack
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: Windows XP SP3 should prove a boon to companies of all sizes still using Microsoft’s previous desktop OS. XP SP3 adds support for Network Access Protection in Windows Server 2008, key-less new product installation, and a new kernel mode cryptographic module. You’ll see Internet Explorer 7.0 and Windows Media Player 11 bundled as well. Microsoft should have delivered XP SP3 two years ago. What took so long?
Contact: Microsoft • 800-426-9400 • www.microsoft.com
Discussion: www.winsupersite.com/article/faq/windows-xp-service-pack-3-faq.aspx

Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Pros: Huge performance and scalability gains; unstructured data support; LINQ capabilities
Cons: None serious
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommendation: SQL Server 2008 is a major update to Microsoft’s increasingly popular database server and moves into a world of non-relational data for the first time. It features new development possibilities with the Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) framework for .NETmanaged code languages and native support for a wide range of unstructured data, including file-system–based documents. It will launch alongside Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 in February, but won’t ship until second quarter 2008.
Contact: Microsoft • 800-426-9400 • www.microsoft.com
Discussion: www.winsupersite.com/article/showcase/a-look-at-sql-server-2008.aspx