Windows XP Service Pack 3 download expected early next year

Users waiting to download Windows XP Service Pack 3 will have to wait until the first half of 2008, when Microsoft will release the Windows XP Service Pack 3 download to the public

Users waiting to download Windows XP Service Pack 3 will have to wait until the first half of 2008, when Microsoft will release the Windows XP Service Pack 3 download to the public.

The Windows XP Service Pack 3 download is expected to be in high demand, as the update to the popular Windows XP operating system adds almost 1,000 alterations and enhancements.

A near-public beta of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) was released to all TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers in mid-September.

Windows XP SP3 marks a significant update to the operating system because the last time Microsoft provided a cumulative update to Windows XP was in 2004, when it released XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Since then, Microsoft has repeatedly pushed back XP SP3's planned release date from 2006 to 2007, then to 2008.

Windows XP SP2 was an extensive update, which took up a large chunk of Microsoft's resources to publicise, manage and address user problems following its release. Windows XP SP3 also looks to set to be another big update, as reports reveal that the Service Pack contains almost 1000 items.

Many organisations face the decision of whether or not to move to Windows Vista, which is due for its first service pack in the first quarter of 2008. If they stay with Windows XP, installing the third Service Pack could mean delaying a Windows Vista migration.

Microsoft has not made any official statement on what Windows XP SP3 will contain, but it is widely expected to include security and reliability improvements. It is also likely to have additional support for carrying out true "per-user" application installation and improvements in managing the list of "hidden" wireless networks.

There may also be changes to Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and Windows Live Messenger. The Windows Live Messenger changes have already been delivered in the Windows Live Messenger 8.5 beta.

Microsoft recommends that users evaluate the new Service Pack as soon as it becomes available, and maintain all PCs on current service packs. It adds that it is important to internally test the Service Pack with all mission critical line of business applications.

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This was last published in October 2007

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