Update: Windows XP SP3 Available

Users of Windows XP can now gain access to Service Pack 3 through Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center, according to an announcement issued by Microsoft Tuesday. Distribution of the service pack through Automatic Updates will be available "in the next few months," the announcement added.

A so-called "slipstream build" of Windows XP SP3 is also currently available to Microsoft TechNet Plus and MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers, according to a Microsoft notice that was posted on Friday (May 2). This kind of build contains the complete Windows XP operating system plus SP3, all in one image file. The build is currently available in nine languages, including English.

Microsoft had promised this Windows XP SP3 update to its developer subscribers on April 29. The company set that date after hearing grumblings that manufacturers were getting the update before paid subscribers. Windows XP SP3 was released to manufacturers on April 21.

General access to XP SP3 via Windows Update and Microsoft Download Center was postponed after Microsoft found an incompatibility problem with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).

The warning still applies for all users of Microsoft Dynamics RMS, including subscribers accessing the Windows XP SP3 slipstream build. Until a fix is released, Microsoft has advised that Windows XP SP3 not be installed if it will be used with the RMS application. A similar problem exists with Windows Vista Service Pack 1, which is also incompatible with the RMS application.

Microsoft's TechNet blogs identify Windows XP SP3 as "build 5512," which some subscribers already have. Microsoft TechNet blogger Chris Keroack confirmed in response to a question that 5512 is "the final build" for Windows XP SP3. He added that a "separate hotfix" will be issued to address the Microsoft Dynamics RMS compatibility problem, without specifying a date.

If that weren't complicated enough, installers of Windows XP SP3 may have to jump through some hoops if they want to avoid some issues with Internet Explorer when installing this service pack. Users who have IE 7 loaded on Windows XP SP2 will not be able to uninstall that browser version if they immediately apply SP3, according to a Microsoft program manager. One way to avoid that snag is to uninstall IE 7 first before installing the service pack, and then reinstall IE 7 afterward.

For those using IE 8 Beta 1 on Windows XP SP2, Microsoft recommends uninstalling this beta version first before installing Windows XP SP3. Doing so avoids a similar issue where the option to remove IE 8 Beta 1 may be subsequently grayed out after applying SP3.

Microsoft TechNet subscribers can download the Windows XP SP3 slipstream build by going here.

General users of Windows XP can either wait for SP3 to become available through Automatic Updates or download it from Windows Update.

The news about the release was publicized via a Microsoft blog. The rapid response team for a public relations firm that represents Microsoft, Waggener-Edstrom, did not respond to our request for comment on this story.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.

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