Microsoft Releases Windows XP SP3 to Manufacturing
Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) has been released to manufacturing, according to a post
on Microsoft TechNet. Current SP3 recipients include original equipment manufacturers and enterprise customers.
Next in line to get the latest update to Microsoft's venerable XP operating system will be TechNet participants, who will gain access to XP SP3 on April 29 via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft also plans to release online documentation on that date.
Home users of Windows XP will be able to get SP3 sometime in early summer via automatic update, according to the post. That release date likely will be June 10, according to an internal Microsoft schedule that the Neowin.net Web site claimed to have obtained. The site first broke initial rumors of the release that turned out to be true.
XP SP3 contains past service pack functionality, but it's expected to be a relatively light upgrade. Highlights of the release include a network access protection update to support new features in the Windows Server 2008 operating system, plus an improved way to tell if routers are discarding packets, according to Microsoft's white paper (PDF) on the topic. It may also have improved performance over XP Service Pack 2.
SP3 will be Microsoft's final service pack for Windows XP, which is the company's most widely used operating system. Microsoft will stop selling Windows XP licenses for new PCs on June 30, 2008. However, for certain new low-tech PCs, Windows XP licensing will be extended to approximately June 30, 2010.
Buyers of state-of-the-art Windows-based PCs will have to use Microsoft's current OS, Windows Vista, after Microsoft ends XP licensing.
Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates has hinted that Vista's successor, Windows 7, could appear as early as 2009.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.