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XP SP3 Brings Nothing New for Gaming

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Windows XP Service Pack 3 is a case of "much ado about nothing" when it comes down to gaming. SP3 was released to manufacturing on April 21, 2008, almost two months after the RTM date of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. But if Vista SP1 does bring to the table advances that will affect the gaming experience of end users in comparison with the original version of the latest Windows client, SP3 will not do the same for XP SP2 users. This is, of course, due to the fact that Microsoft has virtually ignored the graphics components of XP in the move from XPSP2 to XP SP3.

With Vista, SP1 delivered DirectX 10.1, an incremental update from DirectX 10. In fact, Microsoft has continually referred to version 10.1 as a superset and a minor update to the component which is shipped by default with Windows Vista. The evolution in terms of Vista SP1 is limited to the introduction of Direct3D 10.1, a version designed to take advantage of additional hardware capabilities delivered after Vista hit the shelves at the end of January 2007.

The same is not valid in terms of Windows XP. Not only did Microsoft not backport DirectX 10 to XP, but the company has also not included the technology into SP3. The fact is that, as far as DirectX is concerned, XP, SP3 or no SP3, is stuck at version 9.0c. Microsoft did not detail any changes when it comes down to DirectX from SP2 to SP3. According to the official documentation accompanying XP SP3, DirectX wasn't touched in the least.

Gaming performance: XP SP2, XP SP3, Vista RTM, Vista SP1
Following the RTM of XP SP3, ZDNet performed a series of benchmarks assessing the gaming evolution of SP3 in comparison to SP2, with Vista RTM and Vista SP1 also in the mix. Using an AMD Spider platform, featuring Phenom 9700, Radeon 3850 and 2GB of RAM, the tests involved BioShock, Call of Duty 4, Company of Heroes, Crysis, Doom 3, F.E.A.R., The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Supreme Commander, Unreal Tournament 3 and World in Conflict on all four platforms. The conclusion is that the difference between SP2 and SP3 is close to zero, while the results of the comparison with Vista SP1 and Vista RTM vary both in the advantage and disadvantage of each operating system.

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