Microsoft releases XP SP3 but gives no word on reprieve

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Microsoft releases XP SP3 but gives no word on reprieve

With the clanging of Windows XP’s death knell ringing loud and clear in the lead up to its June 30 cutoff, Microsoft today has released the final Windows XP Service Pack to computer builders and volume licensing customers.

“Today we are happy to announce that Windows XP Service Pack 3 has released to manufacturing (RTM),” wrote Chris Keroack, the service pack's release manager, in a message posted to a TechNet support forum. “Windows XP SP3 bits are now working their way through our manufacturing channels to be available to OEM and Enterprise customers.”

Some of the biggest additions to Windows XP SP3 include a range of features backported from Windows Vista, such as black hole router detection, Network Access Protection, and Windows Imaging Component. A full summary of the SP3 features and changes can be found at Microsoft’s XP SP3 download centre.

Existing XP Pro and Home users will have to wait until April 29 to be able to download the service pack directly from Microsoft Download Center while TechNet and MSDN subscribers will have to wait another month until they can download it, according to Keroack.

Microsoft has remained strong in its conviction to stick to the end of June as the final cutoff date for XP’s retail life even though Vista migration has been sluggish. An online ‘Save Windows XP’ petition that has attracted over 100,000 signatures has also so far failed to convince Microsoft to keep the popular operating system on retail shelves.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on whether Microsoft would consider another reprieve for XP but pointed to the operating system’s ongoing future in ultra-low-cost PCs.

“We are extending direct OEM sales of Windows XP Home for a new class of mobile personal computers commonly known as ultra-low-cost PCs, enabling OEMs to preinstall Windows on these devices through June 30, 2010, or one year after the general availability of the next version of the Windows operating system – whichever is later,” the Microsoft spokesperson told iTnews.

“As you might expect, with these devices we have seen interest from several types of customers, including first-time PC buyers with limited needs who now have an affordable first PC that runs Windows and many people in both mature and emerging markets, who are interested in low-cost companions to their primary Windows-based PCs and are buying the devices for themselves and for their children. There is also strong interest within the public sector, from governments and schools.”

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