Microsoft confirms Windows XP SP3 pre-beta is in testers' hands

Microsoft is now confirming the rumored XP SP3 pre-beta build that went to select testers this week -- and may aggregate as many as 991 security and hot fix updates -- is real. Officials still won't provide more detailed info on when the final SP3 will hit. Microsoft's decision as to when to release XP SP3 is probably being driven as much by "politics" as by code readiness, at this point.

The Windows client team -- with a little help from its beta testing friends -- is opening the door a bit on what's going on with Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3.

Earlier this week, AeroXP reported they had gotten their hands on a test build of the forthcoming service pack for Windows XP. The WinBeta site posted screen shots of the latest XP SP3 test build. On August 8, Steven Bink, who runs the enthusiast site, installed and captured a screen shot of the XP SP3 beta build. The build number for the XP SP3 test release is 3180 (windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe).

A source (thanks, C), forwarded me an alleged list of all of the security and hot fixes that are set to be part of XP SP3. There are 991 of them on the list I saw, making it rather cumbersome to run in full. If you're waiting for a specific XP fix, send me a note and I will check the list to see if it's on the XP SP3 list I have.

Microsoft confirmed that the new pre-beta XP SP3 build is real. (That's more than the company is willing to do regarding the pre-beta builds of Vista SP1....) But company officials continued to decline to provide any more detailed information on when Microsoft will release a public beta of XP SP3 and/or when it is planning to release the final update.

"A pre-beta build of Windows XP SP3 was released to a select group of testers," said a Microsoft spokeswoman, via e-mail. "We're currently planning to deliver SP3 for Windows XP in the first half of CY2008. This date is preliminary, and we don't have any more details to share at this time."

The last service pack release Microsoft provided for Windows XP SP2, which was released in the summer of 2004. Since then, Microsoft has pushed back its planned release date for XP SP3 several times.

Last I heard, there was a possibility Microsoft might deliver the final SP3 code this fall and not wait until next year. Company officials won't comment on that report.

Microsoft's decision as to when to release XP SP3 is probably being driven as much by "politics" as by code readiness. If Microsoft releases XP SP3 soon, some businesses and end users might opt to stay with XP longer, rather than moving to Vista.

Microsoft recently told its sales force that it isn't planning to release the next full-fledged version of Windows, a k a Windows 7, until 2010. By uncharacteristically going public with any information -- even something as seemingly innocuous as a release target date -- at this early stage, the Windows team may have been hoping to push fence-sitters to think about moving to Vista, rather than skipping Vista and waiting for Windows 7.

Windows users: If Microsoft releases XP SP3 this fall or early next year, will you be inclined to stick with XP and hold off longer on moving to Vista? Or will the release date for XP SP3 have no effect on your upgrade plans?


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