The great Windows XP SP3 rip off

The great Windows XP SP3 rip off

Summary: It takes a fair bit of nerve to charge anything to fix up a botched product, but Microsoft's $14.95 price to get a physical copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 really takes some beating for sheer gall.


It takes a fair bit of nerve to charge anything to fix up a botched product, but Microsoft's $14.95 price to get a physical copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 really takes some beating for sheer gall.

Microsoft Windows XP SP3 fixes bugs

While it was released earlier this year, XP SP3 has only recently started being pushed out to Australian users as part of Microsoft's Windows Update service. If Windows Update can install the update successfully, then you're typically looking at 70MB or so of downloading — painful, but not impossible. If the install chokes, though, Microsoft recommends downloading the full version of SP3, which is a rather less cosy 316MB.

For a corporate, that's not necessarily a problem, but for individual consumers on a slow connection, or with a minuscule download limit, it's a major pain. In the past, Microsoft has offered to send out CDs containing large patches, and it is doing that for SP3. What's shocking is the cost: $14.95 for a CD that will apparently take between two to four weeks to arrive at an Australian address. At that speed, even a dial-up download might be quicker.

When I asked Microsoft how it could justify this ridiculous state of affairs, I got the following reply: "Microsoft manages duplication of its software, including Service Packs, at regional duplication facilities. As such, the copy of Windows XP SP3 you are ordering is coming from Singapore, which reflects the shipping costs you've referenced as well as the time to delivery."

That partially explains the shipping delay, but it's a lousy excuse for the price.

Australia Post charges $7.75 to send a CD-sized package to Singapore, so why does sending one the other way cost twice as much? It's not likely to be materials or handling cost; the last time I checked, blank CDs cost rather less than $7 each, and if Microsoft can't manage the data processing from an online form in a cost-effective way, it probably should get out of the software business altogether.

Service packs shouldn't be an excuse for profiteering, but it's hard to view this particular exercise as anything else — and it's a lousy incentive for people to keep their machines secure.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Security

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  • Author Biased

    While I agree with your intepretation of the price being unjust, you might want to get your glasses on straight before you go trumpting from the tallest building about Microsoft's profiteering. You only just have to look at Apple charging ridicolous amounts of money for their service packs for OSX, which are considered no different in features and offerings compared to equivalent Microsoft service packs. $100+ prices for a service pack is profiteering, not a measley 15 dollars.
  • Huh?

    What are you talking about - the $100 charge is for a completely new version of OS X, not a service pack, which is free to download.

    As for the "no different in features" are you saying that in the transition from Tiger to Leopard, that Time Machine, Quicklook, better 64 bit support, Spaces, Coverflow in Finder, improved parental controls, new iChat. massive under-the-hood rewrites including new CoreImage and other Core Services etc etc... all 300 changes, including the user interface tweaks wasn't different in offering?

    Perhaps you had better "get your glasses on straight"
  • Remember, Singapore has taxes too...

    $14.95 does seem like a rip off but then again, I have an idea why the price tag "seems" to be that high.

    What if the rates for sending packages overseas are higher in Singapore than they are in Australia? We pay $7.75 to send a CD over there but how much does it cost to send it from Singapore to here?

    Remember, they have to pay for mail over there as well...
  • Zzzzzzzzzzz......................

    1. How slow a connection are you talking about? In the past, for big downloads I have used a download manager and let it run overnight. Now I just have a much faster wireless connection with a larger limit.
    But lets look at the costing for my fast wireless. We are on the BigPond 10GB/month for $130 plan. We actually had to go to this because we were too close to the 3GB limit of the next lower plan. At $130 for 3GB, 300MB costs us $13. Not that much different from the $15 being charged. Of course, it is cheaper to go for a competitor, with much slower downloads, much reduced coverage and PITA phone support.

    2. People with a 'minuscule download limit' would probably not set their computers to automatically update software as, if you haven't noticed over the last year or so, download limits have needed to be increased just to handle the much larger number and size of update downloads coming down the line, and not just from Microsoft, but from Adobe and others.
    (By the way, how does one actually STOP Adobe from TRYING to download updates? I have not come across the setting that stops it. I have not managed to find out if it is a service that is doing it. I have had to resort to blocking it in the firewall, but still get the popup saying not connected to the internet. I give you my permission to really complain about this!)
    Of course, it may be available on one of the DVDs stuck to the front of many computer magazines available for less than $10.

    3. Actually it cost less than AU$2 to make CDs in 500 quantities. The trick is in estimating how many will be required. MS is probably making them for much less than this, but this is only part of the issue, as any manufacturer will tell you.

    4. It costs to have staff pack and post, especially for something that is not in the usual distribution chain. This is not the same as some promotional CD that may be subsidised to get paying customers for something else.

    5. Updates are not always about things being broken. They can be about eliminating malware vectors that were totally off the radar when the software was first conceived.

    6. Stop being a tyre-kicker! You are acting as if $15 is expensive. How many minutes is it of YOUR time?

    We have been spoilt by so called 'free' downloads, where the internet is being heavily subsidised by those companies willing to pay for premium communication services. Those who advocate net neutrality without understanding how the internet is the 'fill in the gaps' bottom-feeder in the communications hierarchy would probably be shocked by the cost if they actually had to pay their real share of the communication bandwidth.
    In comparison, the costs associated with
  • Sorry.... some corrections

    Last sentence of point 2. should be at end of 4.

    The very last line should be:

    In comparison, there are per item costs associated with hard copies that are not trivial amounts.
  • Angus.... rock !!!!
  • Tight Wad

    If your internet plan is so tight so as not able to justify the download of 70-350MB for the service pack, why don't you wander down to an internet cafe, pay the $2 for 30 mins and download the pack from there?

    Honestly, the only reason anyone would be upset about this is they have some shabby Telstra internet plan with a non-existent quota.

    I'm off to download some DVDs on my 130GB iinet plan.
  • 10GB/month for $130 plan WTF!

    Did you shop around before being ripped a new one by BigPond?

    $69 can get you 150GB, 40 Peak 110 off Peak
  • FREE to download

    Ummm . .. its FREE to download.
    Whats the big issue? This is 2008. If you are still on dial-up this is the least of your problems . . .

    OSX updates on the other hand . . .
  • Turkey

    Kidman, you are a turkey. Take a pill you dork. Seriously, what is your problem. Someone at Microsoft not buying you enough coffees? Get over it.
  • Author has nothing to write about

    It has always been the case, SP3 or SP2...
    What do you expect, get it for free, get other people to pay for the CD, handling, postage? Did you write the article for free? Sensationalism will not always work. Many people will not read your article in the future.
  • Maybe you should wear yours straight too

    OSX has been upgraded that many times you could easily call all these Jaguars, Tigers and Panthers service packs.

    "Better 64 bit support" - Windows 64 bit support was good from the start so it had a lead on OSX just in that area alone.

    Remember that after so many years it is still OSX and not OS11 and who cares anyway - it is still only loaded on 2% of the world's computers.
  • Get a life

    $15 isn't much so find something else to whinge about. I feel sick wasting time telling you this
  • lazy

    either pay the $15 to get it on CD, or get your arse and download it yourself!
  • 64 bit

    @Lord Watchdog:

    You could not easily call Jaguar, Tiger, Panther etc service packs. All of these releases have released major new features and are major upgrades of the OS.

    Apple release service packs for its OS just as MS does which are point releases currently leopard is on .5 which is 312 MB. This is the same as MS service packs.

    I agree that Windows 64bit is good from the start but what you fail to state is Apple and Windows have taken two very different paths to get their users to 64bits.

    MS's style has been to get everyone to ditch their current set up and upgrade to a new version of windows along with new hardware where as Apple has slowly been seeding in 64bit code to its OS and hardware allowing the OS to run the correct code for the correct hardware.

    Both are vaild apporaches just different I would question your use of the word lead. As a large % of Apple users have been on 64bit hardware for a long while now the same could not be said for windows as a % of each of their market places.
  • Guys...guys

    fair enough...
    You have fast net speeds, $15 dols is nothing to you but don't you see Kidman's point? there is no comparison here with apple its just possibly a lack of full support of ONE of the greatest OS by MS

    two things
    if there was no vista and MS was worried about users will there be a charge?
    secondly lets just say it was free to ship. since there are a lot of rich folks who can afford high speeds and 15 dols i guess there wont be a lot of
  • If that is all you got......

    If that is all you have to complain abot with Microsoft I would suggest they are doing a pretty good job of it.

    How can you whine about a $15 CD??? Seriously!!!!

    What would you charge a customer that has only made 1 or 2 minor purchases with you for burning a CD, printing the label, then packing it and posting it???

    Tell us all, im sure we would all love to hear what your time is worth? How much will you charge your clients for the same service?

    Lets even assume that MS has bulk duplicated and pre printed the discs. Still some poor junior service desk staffer still has to get off the phones and attend to your request for a CD simply because you are too stingy to have a decent ISP plan or too lazy to auto update every week.

    Do you complain when Nvidia or ATI releases a new 75mb driver pack every month to update the drives on your graphics card?? NO!??!!

    You probably dont even update your video drivers do you? try 4 of them a year - same amount of data isnt it???

    How about the adobe updates for acrobat, flash, CS3, etc - some of those cumulative updates will go over the sp3 data size if you leave it too long to keep on top of updates.

    Seriously - find a real topic to winge about.
  • Zzzzzzzzzzz......................

    To stop Adobe's auto update, look for AdobeUpdater.exe in c:\Program Files\Common\Adobe\Updater5, run it, after it finishes looking for updates, click Preferences and then uncheck "Automatically check for Adobe updates"
  • Your point is moot

    I know many people that own (and love) their Apple machines. Not one of them runs any 64 bit software.

    Due to the lack of applications and application support - 64 bit usage on both Windows and OSX platforms is well down on what they have the potential to be and at the moment is largely limited to commercial and industrial use - EG: web servers, BMS systems and the like.

    Mathematically you are probably correct as far as the figures may indicate but due to the small size of the Apple share of the market I am sure you will agree that rolling out a product to a market that size is much easier than that of Microsoft.
  • You are the one missing the point

    Who cares about paying $15 for a CD containing data you can GET FOR NOTHING by using your scruples and downloading it from the Microsoft website.

    And to the poster who highlighted Bigpond's extortionate pricing - you are absolutely correct - steer clear of Bogpond at any and all costs. :-)