XP SP3: Download it while you still can

Summary:It might not be a bad idea to download and save the Windows XP Service Pack 3 installer in case you later have a need to move an XP machine to Windows 8. Here's where to find it (and some more thoughts on XP's end-of-life).

We're all familiar with the ongoing tick-tock of the impending end of XP support on April 8. While many of us have been planning updates, many of you have also insisted that you're staying with XP come hell or high water .

Whatever floats your boat.

There is some good news. While Microsoft refuses to issue any more updates for XP after April 8 -- much to my disagreement and to my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott's desire to let the OS die with dignity -- Microsoft will still let you run Windows Update on XP systems after the April 8 date.

That bit of relief comes from the keyboard of another ZDNet colleague, Mary Jo Foley, who writes :

"Microsoft will continue to make all patches and fixes made to Windows XP up until April 8, 2014, available to users via Windows Update. 'There are no current plans to remove existing Windows XP security updates from Windows Update after end of support on April 8, 2014,' a spokesperson confirmed."

So there's that. Now, you and I know that over the next year (or more), we're going to discover some hidden and forgotten Windows XP machines. I wrote about this in " The land of forgotten XP installs: Have you looked everywhere?" .

The fact is, none of us will have looked everywhere and we will find some forgotten machines. I thought I'd found all our VMs and critical machines, but I had forgotten one machine that happened to be buried behind a box of cleaning supplies in the garage.

Like many of you, I have a lot of old machines and parts scattered around, used for certain projects and discarded or placed into the limbo we call the garage shelves.

As it turned out, that machine had a solid motherboard and a 10,000 RPM (!) hard drive in it. My wife needed a spare box to use as a scanning workstation and rather than run out and buy a new machine, I scoured the boneyard, finding this beast. But it had XP on it, and since it hadn't been run (or dusted) since before the days of SP3, it wouldn't upgrade until I first upgraded it to SP3.

I've upgraded old XP machines before and while it's a pain, it's not a terrible process (and with a pile of spare Windows 8 licenses I bought for $40 each, it's a lot cheaper than a new machine).

Now, back when I wrote 8 lessons learned from upgrading a dog-slow XP machine to Windows 8 , a bunch of you were pretty hard on me for not having all my XP machines already updated to SP3 -- which is needed to go to Windows 8. But the fact is, and like the machine I just dusted off in the garage, we've been using these machines for more than a decade and not all of them have been in continuous service.

As I prepared to run the update process on the soon-to-be-new-again scanning machine, I realized that I wasn't sure how easy it would be, in years to come, to find XP's SP3 in order to upgrade those old machines.

I don't have an intention of making a career of reviving old dogs and turning them into Windows 8 boxes, but my decades of computer experience tells me that there will come a day when doing so is necessary for some critical and unexpected reason.

So I've gone ahead and downloaded a copy of the "professionals and developers" installer for SP3, which is a self-contained downloadable executable. I've backed that up in the same place I've backed up all my other patch files and installers and now, if I someday need it, I have it.

I recommend you do the same. Here's the link on the Microsoft site to download it. It's not big, it won't take you much time, but if you need it in the future, you'll thank me for helping you be prepared.

I'm not saying Microsoft will pull it down. Microsoft still has a security patch online for Windows 98 (yes, I checked out of some degree of twisted curiosity), but I am saying it will be easier if you just happen to have the XP SP3 in your toolbox just in case.

Eh. Do what you want. You know you folks will, anyway. Go ahead and let me know what you think in the TalkBack section below.

By the way, I'm doing more updates on Twitter and Facebook than ever before. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.