Continuing its tradition of giving Windows XP users free, fun, and ongoing digital-media updates, Microsoft announced this morning the immediate availability of three new holiday-themed digital-media Fun Packs. This release is the third such set of Fun Packs; the first set arrived in winter 2002 and was followed by a spring-oriented set in spring 2003. Microsoft says that the Winter 2003 Fun Packs are designed to help XP users have more fun this holiday season with their digital music, photos, and home movies.
   "These free Fun Packs are an exciting holiday treat for any Windows XP user," said Jonathan Usher, director of the Windows Digital Media Division. "These Fun Packs will get you in the holiday spirit, whether you want to enjoy digital music in Windows Media Player, spice up a holiday home movie, or use your digital photos to make the best holiday greeting cards you've ever made."
   The Winter 2003 Fun Packs for Windows XP include:
   - Windows Media Player 9 Series Winter Fun Pack--includes seasonal Windows Media Player (WMP) skins and holiday visualizations, as well as new Holiday Music Auto Playlists that automatically find holiday music on your PC. The pack also includes a power-user-oriented power toy that can export WMP media-library information to a variety of formats, including HTML, Microsoft Excel, and XML, and a bonus downloadable Plus! Dancer--Kris, the Holiday Elf.
   - Windows Movie Maker 2 Winter Fun Pack--includes two Winter Transitions and one Winter Effect, which let you add snow bursts between video clips and a snowstorm effect to videos and titles. This pack also includes winter-themed background images, royalty-free winter-themed music and sound effects, and updated movie profiles for saving home movies for use on Windows Mobile 2003-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones. I tested this last feature last night and found the new profiles to be of extremely high quality.
   - Windows XP Digital Photography Winter Fun Pack--includes seven holiday-themed greeting-card templates for personalizing photos that you email to or print for loved ones. The pack also included a Winter Fun Wallpaper Changer that lets you cycle your desktop wallpaper among various winter-themed desktop images and a Winter Fun Photo Screensaver that lets you see your photos get covered with frost and snow.

The new Winter 2003 Windows XP Fun Packs are available now. You can download them for free from the Microsoft Web site.