Microsoft on Wednesday released its first external beta release for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), its upcoming update to XP that will add new features, support for new technology, and a bevy of bug fixes. Most notably, XP SP1 includes security fixes for vulnerabilities found during Microsoft's recent Trustworthy Computing-inspired code review, and a set of changes to the Windows user interface necessitated by the company's proposed antitrust settlement with the US government.

"Today, Microsoft released the first beta of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional," Microsoft announced. "As you know, SP1 is in most ways a traditional service pack and will include security fixes, application compatibility updates and updated drivers since the October launch. Of note, included in the security updates will be fixes developed during the security push done by the entire Windows division as part of Microsoft's renewed emphasis on security for customers. In addition to these traditional elements, Microsoft is fulfilling its commitment to implement the changes required by the consent decree signed with the Department of Justice and nine settling states."

XP SP1 will be tested by 10,000 beta testers, Microsoft says. For more information about this update, please visit my XP SP1 Preview on the SuperSite for Windows.