Microsoft delivered the last service pack update for XP, Windows XP SP2 (which was actually more of a whole new version of Windows than it was a typical service pack) in August of 2004.
And that's not all that's slipping: Windows Server 2003 SP 2, until recently due out in the second half of 2006, is now slated for Q1 2007. Microsoft released SP1 for Windows Server 2003 in March, 2005.
The latest bad news on the Windows SP front comes directly from Microsoft, via its own Windows Service Pack roadmap page. The new XP service pack dates are listed as "preliminary." The Windows Server 2003 SP2 date is not.
No word yet from Microsoft directly as to why the service pack dates are slipping again. I would guess the company's response will be that getting Vista and Longhorn Server out the door is the No. 1 priority for the Windows team and SP updates have taken a back seat.
There's no doubt that some (many?) Microsoft customers will see the latest slip as a less-than-subtle attempt by Microsoft to force them to upgrade to the latest versions of Windows that are coming down the pike. Why stick with an operating system that hasn't gotten a full-fledged set of bug fixes and updates for two-plus years? Why not just make the move to Vista and Longhorn Server?
I, for one, am doubtful customers are going to buy that logic.
Meanwhile, before anyone asks, I have not yet heard a timetable for Windows Vista SP1. Anyone else out there heard something on that front?
Update: Microsoft provided the following statement late on October 19, regarding the timing of XP SP3:
"As we have previously confirmed, we will be releasing another service pack for XP over the course of the (XP) product lifecycle. We are now tentatively targeting the first half of 2008 forrelease. Right now our priority is Windows Vista -- we'll have more information to share about the next service pack for XP after Windows Vista ships."