Glitch Postpones Windows XP SP3 Availability

One of Microsoft's retail point-of-sale applications has an incompatibility with Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Consequently, Microsoft has postponed Web access to downloading Windows XP SP3. However, the company is still making Windows Vista SP1 available via Microsoft Download Center or Windows Update.

A notice briefly describing the problem was posted yesterday in a Microsoft TechNet blog by Chris Keroack.

Yesterday (April 29) was supposed to be the big debut of Windows XP SP3's availability via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft had already released Windows XP SP3 to manufacturers on April 21.

On the Vista side of things, Windows Vista SP1 availability via Windows Update was first announced on March 18, although some users experienced snags in trying to install it. Microsoft fixed that glitch, which was associated with an endless reboot problem.

The current compatibility issue stems from an application called Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS). Microsoft's blog recommended that customers using this RMS solution "not install either service pack." For those who have done so already, they should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services to get more information, according to the blog. (Perhaps the author meant "Microsoft Customer Service and Support"?)

An All About Microsoft blog by Mary Jo Foley provided an official explanation for the apparent inconsistency of allowing access to Windows Vista SP1, but not Windows XP SP3, citing a Microsoft spokeswoman:

"While we are recommending that customers running Microsoft Dynamics RMS should not install SP1, there are many other customers who can benefit from installing Windows SP1 immediately, so we are maintaining availability via WU," the spokeswoman said.

Microsoft provided no firm date when Web downloads of Windows XP SP3 will resume. The company is working on a fix and has put up filters to prevent access to that service pack, according to the blog. Web access to Windows XP SP3 will resume after the compatibility issue has been fixed.

Windows XP SP3 is the final planned update to Microsoft's popular and venerable operating system. SP3 reportedly contains some minor fixes and improvements, but it may increase a system's overall performance somewhat compared with Windows XP SP2. Some benchmark testing has indicated that systems running Windows XP SP3 performed better than those running Windows Vista SP1.

Microsoft plans to stop selling Windows XP for new state-of-the-art PCs on June 30, despite rumors that XP's life would be extended. Windows XP Home Edition will still be available past that date to customers buying new so-called "ultra-low-cost personal computers," which have hardware that is insufficient for running Vista.

Another option for new PC buyers wanting to get their machines loaded with Windows XP is to buy them with Vista licensing and then request a downgrade to XP. Original equipment manufacturers have the rights to downgrade Vista, but the rights are only for Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate versions. Moreover, the downgrade can be performed only to Windows XP Professional. Those who bought their PCs with Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium do not have these downgrade rights, according to a Microsoft FAQ (Word file). Individual dealers may or may not charge to perform the downgrade.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.