Microsoft will end support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) and SP 1a on 10 October, leaving users no option but to upgrade to SP2 if they wish to continue to receive support for crucial components, including security software.
The move to drop support for SP1 is in line with Microsoft's stated strategy for support. According to its guidelines, Microsoft guarantees to provide "mainstream support" for a full product for five years, but will only guarantee to support a Service Pack for 12 months after the launch of the next version of that pack.
Windows XP SP2 was released more than two years ago, on 17 September, 2004. SP1 itself shipped on 9 September 2002.
There's little reason for anyone to still be running SP1, as SP2 contained a range of improvements to XP's security. Users can check which version they are running by right-clicking on the My Computer desktop icon and then selecting Properties.
The ending of support for SP1 will help Microsoft to clear the decks for the arrival of Vista, which is expected to be released to business customers next month, and to consumers in January 2007.
In July, Microsoft ended support for Windows 98, 98, SE and ME.