Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) RTM

windows It’s official, Windows XP SP3 has finally been released to manufacturing. An announcement was quietly made today on the TechNet XP forum:

Today we are happy to announce that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) has released to manufacturing (RTM). Windows XP SP3 bits are now working their way through our manufacturing channels to be available to OEM and Enterprise customers.

The update will be available at Windows Update and on the Microsoft Download site on April 29th. It will be pushed out via Automatic Updates starting June 10th. MSDN and TechNet subscribers should have access to the download later today.

There isn’t a lot of new functionality in SP3, but it’ll definitely be nice to avoid having to download dozens of updates after a fresh install of XP with SP2. Here’s a list of some of the included improvements.

Keep an eye on the Windows XP site for updates. There’s more commentary at Techmeme.

No SP3 for Windows XP until late 2007

Post ImageI’m not sure this date will remain final, but Microsoft has announced that the release date for Windows XP Service Pack 3 is not until the second half of 2007. Apparently most people anticipated having SP3 a lot sooner than that:

Microsoft also has published “latter half of 2006” as the tentative release date for the second service pack for Windows Server 2003. The “preliminary” due date for Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) date jibes with what industry experts were expecting.

Microsoft has not made public an official list of planned fixes (and new features, if any) that will be part of either the Windows Server 2003 SP2 or Windows XP SP3 releases.

I realize that SP3 is important for business customers who aren’t going to upgrade, but I will for sure be running Windows Vista by the time XPSP3 is released. That said, the best part of these news stories isn’t future planning but spreading rumors:

Microsoft officials attributed some of the delays in Longhorn/Windows Vista to SP2. Officials claimed the company’s decision to reassign developers working on Vista to finishing and testing SP2 had a negative impact on Vista’s schedule.

It is unclear if Microsoft is pushing back SP3’s delivery date in order to avoid a similar negative impact on Vista’s schedule. It’s also unclear whether Microsoft may be holding back SP3 in order to help stimulate upgrade demand for Vista.

True or not, there will undoubtedly be a “respectable” media outlet or two that will pick up on that as fact.

I guess when you think about it, 2007 is a long time though. If Vista really does ship this year like Microsoft says, I’d almost expect a service pack for it to be released in the second half of 2007. As I mentioned earlier today, I think Windows XP SP2 is pretty solid – maybe the “way out there” release date for SP3 is simply a reflection of that?! Not that you’d ever read that in the media.

Read: Microsoft Watch