Microsoft's party line for the past few months has been that it wasn't going to get Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 out the door until some time in the first half of 2008.
But this week, Microsoft hinted that XP SP3 might actually ship this year.
It could be a simple typo in a press release. But then, again, maybe it's not and it's part of the Windows client team's mission to under-promise and over-deliver. While the element of surprise is nice, corporate customers tell me having a real timetable for planning purposes would be much nicer.
The folks over at the Microsoft Forum Software Network (MSFN.org) site were the ones with the eagle eyes. They caught the XP SP3 reference in a Microsoft Interop press release from May 21. Here's the mention:
"The Juniper Networks Infranet Controller, the policy management server at the heart of the Juniper UAC solution, will be able to leverage the built-in security assessment capabilities and the SOH protocol provided by the NAP agent built into the Windows Vista® and Microsoft Windows XP operating systems. Microsoft Network Policy Server (NPS) brings a rich ecosystem of NAP health agents and will be able to interoperate with the Juniper Networks UAC solution in heterogeneous network environments. Microsoft NPS can either act as a policy server or be leveraged by the Juniper Infranet Controller for rich endpoint information. Microsoft is announcing that Windows Vista supports this protocol today and Windows Server 2008 and Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) will support it as well later this year. The Juniper Networks UAC solution is expected to support the new TNC standard in the first half of 2008."
Windows Vista SP 1, a build of which was spotted in the wild at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) last week, also is expected later this year, around the same time that Windows Server 2008 is released to manufacturing.
If XP SP3 does, indeed, ship by the end of 2007, there will be a lot of pleasantly surprised XP users out there. And Microsoft would disprove the rampant theory that the company is intentionally holding back XP SP3 to try to get more customers to upgrade to Windows Vista. Microsoft released XP SP2 three years ago, in 2004.
I've asked Microsoft if they've updated their XP SP3 timetable. I'll include the official response once I get it.
Update: It's not really a response at all. But this is all the Windows client team would say, re: XP SP3:
"We have plans to release a third service pack for Windows XP, but right now our priority is Windows Vista. We have no other details on timing, or what the service pack will contain at this time. We will be sure to update you when we have more information to share. "
Update No. 2: It was too good to be true. There was a mistake in the Microsoft press release, Microsoft officials admit. Back to the "first half of 2008" due date.