Service Pack 3 For Windows XP
Those who are still hanging onto Windows XP (32-bit) will be heartened to know that the Service Pack 3 programme is chugging along nicely. In fact, Microsoft is scheduled to wrap up the Technical Beta and release Service Pack 3 for public beta testing within the next two weeks.
Although Microsoft is ending the sale of Windows XP through retail and OEM channels by end of January 2008, this does not mean they are ending their support of Windows XP. While some publications claim that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP by 2009, that's simply not true. Microsoft will continue to support Windows XP up till August 4, 2014 under their Extended Support Policy. Naysayers can take a look at the Support Lifecycle for Windows XP Professional for example.
As Windows XP nears the end-of-life though, it is Microsoft's policy to release a final service pack to wrap up all those hot fixes and patches released over the past few years. A Sayonara Service Pack, in other words. What this means is a much easier patching process for those who still want to stick with Windows XP. Almost a thousand Windows XP updates in a single download.
It doesn't matter if you are still using the original, unpatched Windows XP or Windows XP Service Pack 2. You can upgrade directly to Windows XP Service Pack 3. You can also slipstream Service Pack 3 into your Windows XP installation media. This allows you to install a fully-patched Windows XP SP3 without going through the ardous process of downloading and installing the many, different updates.
Service Pack 3 will consist mainly of previously-released hot fixes and security patches. It will also come with Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 11. Basically, everything you can download and update right now, but conveniently rolled into a single update.
Service Pack 3 will change Windows XP in some ways though. For one thing, after upgrading to Service Pack 3, you can now enter the product key after installation. Previously, you would have been required to do so during installation. Service Pack 3 will also add Network Access Protection, a Windows Vista feature, to Windows XP.
Microsoft has set forth the following deployment schedule. They are currently nearing the end of the Technical Beta programme.
First Build (Technical Beta)
- available only to vendors for internal tests.
- released since August 2007.
Second Build (Public Beta)
- available to the public for beta testing.
- to be released in mid-September
Third & Fourth Builds
- these will be Release Candidates 1 & 2.
- to be released over the last 3 months of 2007.
Final Build (Release To Manufacturing)
- tentatively scheduled for release in the first half of 2008.
Let's take a look at the current Technical Beta, as well as the upcoming Public Beta and Release Candidates.