Also just in time for Christmas: Windows XP / SP3

As mentioned earlier, the good news for Windows Vista users is that Service Pack 1 is heaving into view. According to early word from Office Watch, it will be somewhat faster and more reliable.

The other news -- well, let's consider this good news too: Service Pack 3 for Windows XP is also in its beta stage, for official release some time next year. According to this recent report on CNET, via reader Chet Shannon, the long-in-the-tooth Windows XP with its new SP3 is twice as fast (on several benchmark tests involving Microsoft Office functions) as Vista, even with its new SP1:

Vista, both with and without SP1, performed notably slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP's 35 seconds. Vista's performance with the service pack increased less than 2 percent compared to performance without SP1--much lower than XP's SP3 improvement of 10 percent.

More details about the test at CNET's site. I'll think of this as Happy Holiday news for XP users -- putting the XP into Xmas, perhaps.