It's official! Windows XP SP3 goes RTM today

The moment that Windows XP users have been waiting for. Today Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) goes RTM.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The moment that Windows XP users have been waiting for. Today Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) goes RTM.

What's in SP3?

XP logo
Here's what you can expect from XP SP3:
  • All previously released Windows XP updates, including security updates and hotfixes.
  • Also contained are some out-of-band releases.
  • A small number of new OS enhancements.

Can I find out the details of what's included in SP3?

Sure. [UPDATE: Link now working.]

What sort of new and enhanced functionality does SP3 contain?

Some features of note include:

  • Improvements to "black hole" router detection.
  • Network Access Protection, which is a network policy enforcement platform previously seen in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.
  • Enhanced Control Panel Security Options which better explains the impact of the various settings.
  • Product key-free installation now possible.

What's the purpose of SP3?

According to Microsoft, the goals of SP3 are:

  • Provide a new baseline for customers still deploying Windows XP, to help them avoid the inconvenience of applying individual updates.
  • Fill gaps in the updates users might have missed by declining individual updates when using Automatic Updates, and to deliver updates not made available through Windows Update.

How big is SP3?

Depends on how you get it. Through Windows Update the typical download will be in the region of 70MB. Through the Microsoft Download Center the download balloons to around 580MB.

What versions of XP can SP3 be applied?

Any 32-bit version of Windows XP SP1 or SP2.

Can SP3 be applied to Windows XP x64?

No. Users of the 64-bit version of Windows XP should download and install Windows Server 2003 SP2.

Does SP3 include Internet Explorer 7?

No, IE 7 is not part of SP3. However, updates for IE6 and IE7 are included.

If I install SP3 and something goes wrong, can I uninstall it?


Does SP3 improve system performance?

If it does, Microsoft isn't letting on.

When can I get my hands on SP3?

April 29.

What are your impressions of SP3? Will SP3 breathe new life into XP?

Hard to tell. So far, I've not actually had any hands on time with SP3 RTM. I was provided with a secure FTP location from which to download the final bits, but despite repeated attempts to download SP1, I was unsuccessful. I should receive discs containing the final bits shortly and will carry out some detailed testing at that time.


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