Out with the old, in with the new...
Dealing with the old first (respect for your elders, etc etc) and Windows XP Service Pack 2 is no longer supported as of today. The death knell was long expected and we reminded you about the 13 July deadline back in February, so this is your last chance to dive on SP3 unless you like your OSes to develop more holes than your average Swiss based cheese. Oh and why aren't you on SP3 yet?!
Moving on from the dead to the very much alive and Microsoft has quietly released the first public beta of Service Pack 1 for Windows 7. Quite why you'd want the beta is debateable unless you're a software developer since even Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc today reiterated: "SP1 for Windows 7 does not contain any new features specific to Windows 7... SP1 is simply a combination of updates already available through Windows Update and additional hotfixes based on feedback by our customers and partners."
Why does this humdrum mix have an SP1 tag slapped on it then? We've been through this before, but in short: because it is a corporate exercise. Large multinationals don't trust an OS until it is 'mature' and getting a Service Pack is the daft trigger by which many make this categorisation. The fact Windows 7 came out rock solid from day one made little impact, so now Microsoft is spray painting 'SERVICE PACK ONE' in big letters onto the OS in the hope of making them feel better.
You can hardly blame them, corporations need to make sure their systems are rock solid - which is why they are responsible for the vast majority of computers still running Internet Explorer 6... it's tried and trusted.