Want Windows XP SP4? Unofficial versions are on the way

Want Windows XP SP4? Unofficial versions are on the way

Summary: Microsoft withdrew support for Windows XP in April. That's been the cue for some in the developer community to work on new service packs for the elderly operating system.


Some five months after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, a developer is preparing to make an unofficial service pack for the 13-year-old OS available on general release.

Using the project title of Unofficial Service Pack 4, Greece-based developer harkaz started work in September 2013 on bringing together all the official updates from Microsoft in a single package.

Unofficial SP4, which is available in a third beta version, is soon to be finalised in a release candidate, according to harkaz, who said in a blogpost this week, "I have already started working on the SP4 RC build."

In his description of the Windows XP service-pack project, harkaz said: "Many users — including me — who won't be able to upgrade their old machines to a newer OS would like to easily install all Windows updates in one convenient package. For this reason, I started working on a Service Pack 4 package."

According to harkaz, Windows XP Unofficial SP4 is a cumulative update rollup for Windows XP x86. It can be applied to a live Windows XP system that has a minimum of SP1 installed. Alternatively, it can be integrated in any Windows XP installation media.

Estimates vary on the number of desktops still running Windows XP. However, Netmarketshare's numbers for July 2014 still give the operating system, first released to manufacturers in August 2001, a 24.82 percent worldwide share, down from 37.19 percent a year earlier.

One of the places from which the unofficial service pack can be downloaded is Softpedia, whose description of the software carries a note of caution: "Please be advised that this package is not released by Microsoft, who does not recommend computer users to install it."

Elsewhere the site says of the harkaz service pack: "If you decide to install this service pack, keep in mind that it's not related to Microsoft in any way and is just an unofficial release that might or might not help you protect a Windows XP computer against vulnerabilities found in the operating system.

"Of course, Microsoft does not recommend anyone to install this, but such a service pack is clearly worth a shot if you're still on Windows XP and you don't plan to upgrade anytime soon."

The service pack from harkaz contains updates for most Windows XP components, including MCE and Tablet PC. Request-only hotfixes have been included, along with Microsoft .NET Frameworks 4.0, 3.5, 1.1 and 1.0 — Tablet PC only.

"You can also scan for POSReady updates, because the POSReady trick has been included. In addition, all post-eol updates for .NET Framework 1.1, 3.5 and 4.0 until May 2014 have been included," harkaz said. "The .NET 1.x, 3.5 versions are automatically installed/updated in live installations as well."

Other developers have also been working on unofficial XP service packs. Nonno fabio, based in northern Italy, has made available what is called Onepiece's Windows XP Post-SP3 All-in-One QFE/LDR En-US Update Pack.

In January, Microsoft announced that although security updates for Windows XP would end in April, anti-malware signatures and engine updates for Windows XP users will continue until 14 July, 2015.

"For enterprise customers, this applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials," the company said.

More on Windows XP

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems

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  • Hmmmm...

    Maybe my memory is failing me, but I though someone had already tried independently distributing Windows Update roll-up packs and was promptly shut down by Microsoft.
    • WinDizUpdate.com

      is still up and running. I don't know if there was another that you were thinking of.
  • Does Greece have a different copyright restriction?

    These are just repackaged MS kit... and no price was mentioned.
    • It is free and it is just a joined together updates.

      I doubt Microsoft will care much about it at this point.
  • Copyright infringement in the U.S. is a federal felony.

    Also, "statutory damages" are available -- meaning all the copyright holder has to do is prove an infringement and it can automatically get a statutory amount -- something like $25,000 MINIMUM.
    • It's not copyright infringement

      It's not an infringement if he redistributes free of charge items which were distributed free of charge in the first place.

      It only qualifies as redistribution, and that is permitted worldwide.
      • It's not copyright infringement

        • Interesting, but not exactly the same

          type of redistribution. Aereo was redistributing over the air to over the Internet. This is software being redistributed over the same medium, just packaged together.
      • Redistribution is covered by copyright laws

        Among other things, the principle is the basis of the GPL.

        Mind you, I don't know what Harkaz' legal status is but it is very possible that it is violating MS' copyrights.
        John L. Ries
    • Shouldn't be, but is

      Holders of franchise monopolies (which is what copyrights and patents are) should be responsible for defending their own privileges in court, without the assistance of taxpayer-funded police agencies; and damages should be no more than four times the market value of the illegally copied materials. One of the advantages of such a policy would be that trolling would become a much riskier proposition than it currently is.

      Criminalizing copyright infringement mostly shifts responsibility for enforcement from copyright holders to the taxpayers (effectively reducing the public benefit of the program).
      John L. Ries
      • Amendment

        Four times the market value of the infringed materials, or four times the amount for which the infringer sold them, whichever is more.
        John L. Ries
      • What's the source of your information?

        In my limited experience, legal costs are born by the copyright holder. If their case is won, then legal costs and statutory fines are due from the infringing party.

        Perhaps you're referring to international copyright violation? In that case, I don't see a way for the government not to be involved in enforcing treaty violations.
    • Re: Copyright infringement....

      Thats absurd. How can Copyright infringement be claimed for a system they have abandoned and the millions of consumers still working with XP.

      Providing correct policing is exercised or even better Microsoft overseeing it then it can only be seen as a positive.
      • Such is the law

        A work could be out of print for 20 years or more and still be under copyright.
        John L. Ries
        • This is the biggest argument against long copyright terms

          A work could fall out of print for a generation or more after the death of the author, which can make it very difficult to determine who the copyright holder is... unless the copyright holder is a publisher, in which case, that publisher can revive it at any time.

          It's certainly not in the public interest for a work to be effectively unpublishable for 90+ years.
          John L. Ries
  • Unofficial SP4 for XP. Sounds interesting....

    XP sounds like it is stepping in to the boundaries of Linux with independent developers contributing. Ironically it could make XP a better system than it was ever before when supported by Microsoft.
    • I dont really consider this development when

      all they are doing is combining previous updates into a single package.
      All of the code is still going to be Microsoft and I seriously doubt anyone is going to change that.
    • You're not understanding this, 5735guy

      This is not people developing new code, or adding features to Windows XP.

      An analogy that may be closer to what is being offered would be that instead of going to the supermarket yourself and getting each item you want isle by isle, you have someone else do all the shopping for you and just delivers to you the single cart filled with all your items.
  • If you have an older machine...

    ...use Linux instead, or actually try Windows 8. Both are actually great options, and 8.1 runs better than XP unless the box is really geriatric. But I bet the issues are less box age than learning curve and compatibility (the Linux option) or cost (the Windows 8.1 option). IF either is the case, time to move on and fast.
    • Windows 8 will not run on all machines

      I have a Dell Optiplex 240 that runs XP and Vista, but will not run Windows 7 and 8. So, there are machines that will not run Windows 8 because of a fundamental change in the boot between Vista and 7 that was carried over into 8.

      Luckily, that's not my primary machine (both my primary desktop and laptop run Windows 8).