Till date, the company has always maintained it will release the final version Windows XP SP3 in the first half of this year.
Reports seem to suggest that Microsoft will release the third and hopefully the last upgrade to its Windows XP operating system later this month. Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) is expected to be released to manufacturing on April 21 and to the general public eight days later on April 29 through Microsoft's Windows Update service.
In March, Microsoft released a near-final beta version of Windows XP SP3 named 'Release Candidate 2 Refresh'. Till date, the company has always maintained it will release the final version Windows XP SP3 in the first half of this year. The soon-to-be-released Windows XP SP3 boasts 1,000 different hot fixes, including both new as well as previous patches since Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released in 2004.
Some of the new elements in XP SP3 include: Network Access Protection (NAP) claimed to automatically ensure that a computer is free of bugs and viruses before it can access any network; enhanced black hole router detection claimed to automatically detect routers silently discarding packets; and product activation that does not need product keys for each copy of the operating system to be entered during set-up.
And while users may crib endlessly about having to deal with yet another XP service pack, Microsoft itself might be in a bit of a 'devil or the deep blue sea' situation as concerns its XP and Vista operating systems. The more the company strengthens XP, the less users would feel the need to upgrade to Vista, which despite reports to the contrary, has suffered several nagging issues since its debut last year. Probably to balance off, Microsoft recently even released Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) claimed to include over 300 hot fixes designed to improve the OS's speed, security, and stability.