Microsoft designed Windows XP--from its inception--to be extensible and easily updateable, ensuring that users always have access to the latest security fixes, new features, and other product updates. So with today's public launch of XP, Microsoft is unleashing a wide range of XP product updates, available from the Windows Update Web site, that enhance and expand your out-of-the-box experience.

"One of the advantages of Windows XP is its ability to be dynamically updated--giving users updates without making them wait between service packs or for the next version," a Microsoft representative told me yesterday. "\[Today's\] launch demonstrates this capability: Even as the product is becoming available to users for the first time, a variety of updates are already available."

These updates include hundreds of new XP device drivers, all of which have been certified to meet the Designed for Windows Logo standards. Windows Update intelligently scans your system and shows you only the updated drivers that apply to your specific hardware configuration. A new XP compatibility update gives new XP users support for more than 40 new applications. And XP users can update Windows Movie Maker to version 1.2, which features a new, near DVD-quality movie resolution that offers better compression and support for the Windows Media Video 8 (WMV 8) format.

Microsoft also updated its popular PowerToys. The XP PowerToys, available from the Microsoft Web site, include Super-Fast User Switcher, for quickly switching among active user profiles; PowerToy Calculator, a graphing calculator; Alt-Tab Replacement, which improves the visuals for switching among running applications; Virtual Desktop Manager, for easily switching among four desktop views; Photo Toys, for quickly resizing photos in batch mode; TweakUI, for micromanaging many features of the XP system; Command Window on Folder, for displaying a command-line folder at the current shell folder; Slide Show Generator and HTML Slide Show Generator, for creating slide shows for CD-ROM and the Web; Taskbar Magnifier, a screen magnifier that sits in the taskbar; and TimerShot, a Web-cam application that takes pictures at specified intervals and saves them locally or to a Web site.

As previously reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE, an enhanced version of Windows Messenger, version 4.5, is also available for free download. This application features improved usability with a new grouping functionality and nicer emoticons, support for .NET Alerts, and the ability to subscribe to PC-to-phone services. Windows Messenger is available for free download from the Microsoft Web site .
  
In addition, Microsoft notes that two companies, Cyberlink and InterVideo, are offering MP3 and DVD add-on packs for Windows Media Player for Windows XP (MPXP); the packs feature MP3 encoding and DVD playback, respectively. Two other companies, Raviscent and Mediamatics, will soon offer their own MP3 and DVD add-ons as well. For more information, visit the Microsoft Web site.

For more information about Windows XP, visit the SuperSite for Windows , which includes the first-ever XP FAQ; full reviews of XP Home and Professional Editions, Plus! for Windows XP, and the XP PowerToys; technology showcases that focus on installing and upgrading to XP; XP tips and tricks; and many other topics of interest to anyone who upgrades to Microsoft's latest OS.