Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) - what is it, where is it? Most importantly, when is it available for download? For a long time Microsoft would not confirm if there was going to be a Service Pack 3 for Windows XP. Like Windows 2000, which has stopped officially at Service Pack 4, there was a possibility that the current Windows XP Service Pack 2 release would be final. Throughout 2006, Microsoft started to put more certainty into the release schedule. Originally planned for 2006 ('before Vista ships'), the date has slipped away. Now Windows XP Service Pack 3 is slated for late 2007, according to the official Microsoft product life cycle page.
To quote Microsoft 'SP3 for Windows XP Professional [and Home] is currently planned for 2H 2007. This date is preliminary.'
This is not good news. The problem becomes apparent when you install Windows XP on a new machine - now there are over 60 updates, plus Service Pack 2 and the amount of updates is growing steadily every month. This total figure doesn't include various downloads, utilities and hotfixes for specific issues such as the common Loopback patch or AEC stop error. The single collection of security updates is one thing that would be handy in Windows XP Service Pack 3, but the bug fixes (generally not included in the monthly security updates) would be beneficial to everyone. It seems unreasonable to wait three years after Service Pack 2's release before we see Windows XP Service Pack 3. In the meantime, we hope Microsoft can at least make a rollup package of security updates available for download.