SP3 for Windows XP: Download it Manually

Tuesday May 6th 2008 by Ronald Barrett
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Despite snafus in the release of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP, there is a way for you to install it.

Windows XP users braced for what may possibly be the last major Service Pack release for Windows XP. With June 30th fast approaching some fans of XP received a reprieve of sorts. Dell Corp. announced it would continue to offer XP preinstalled after the cutoff date, much to the delight of many XP fans. The good news didn’t stop there; the long anticipated release of the next Service Pack for Windows XP was received with enthusiasm by many loyal users.

Service Pack 3 was scheduled to release Tuesday April 29th for Automatic Delivery. However, a problem with the Service Pack has prompted Microsoft to suspend automatic delivery until further notice. The announcement was a great disappointment to users and industry insiders alike.

What went wrong and why?

According to reports out of Redmond, the new Service Pack has “compatibility issues.” That’s putting it lightly. It turns out the update could possibly cause data loss and corruption in the Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).

If you’re like me, you are wondering okay…why should I care? Well, you’re right, this flub should not affect the masses.

What has so many up in arms is not this delay itself, but the fact that this is one of a series of delays. Service Pack 3 was due to be released in 2006; it was then pushed back to early 2007. Here we are in the second quarter of 2008 and – still – no service pack yet.

Even more irritating is the fact that it was avoidable. Microsoft knew that the problem existed since April 24th. A report was posted to the Dynamics RMS support forums by a Microsoft representative. With the Service Pack due to be released to users five days later, why did we need to wait for the deadline to come and go with no fix and no release?

I must admit that I am not quite certain the number of Dynamics RMS users that would be affected by the service pack update. However, I am quite sure the number of users affected by the service pack update for Dynamics RMS is vastly smaller than those who have been anticipating a service pack for their beloved Operating System. A service pack almost two years behind on delivery.

At this point, with Vista struggling to gain foothold, and MAC and Linux wooing disgruntled (formerly faithful) Windows users, the last thing they needed was to make people angry. Of course, the drama that is Windows Vista lately is not without a part in the latest mess.

Microsoft has also suspended the automatic distribution of Windows Vista SP1. Yes, you guessed it: the problem was first discovered in machines that downloaded and installed Vista SP1. Apparently the service pack alters the records that were handled in the SQL databases for RMS, but as I said before, with Vista struggling it did not need any more bad press.

Next page: When can we get the new Service Pack?

What now: When can we get the new Service Pack?

You can still download the Vista Service Pack update manually from Microsoft. The Windows XP Service Pack 3, however, is not available for manual download from Microsoft’s download site.

Although this delay is expected to be relatively short in comparison to the last two major delays, nevertheless it will be delayed. Microsoft has not given any official timeline for a correction. What we do know is that a filter is being developed for Dynamics RMS users to block the automatic download of Windows Vista SP1 and for Windows XP SP3.

Even though the automatic download of SP3 is not available, you can still get it for your system. First, make sure you are not running RMS, especially on your home system. (I’m not being too sarcastic, am I?)

If you are business and have access to a TechNet or MSDN subscription, you can download the service pack. However, for the rest of us there is another alternative.

Follow this SP3 download link; the update is available on this site for English and 14 other languages, including French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. Microsoft has officially stated that these links are probably linked to their Web site, but suggests users wait until the official download is published. In testing a few of the links, they all led back to the Microsoft downloads website.

Does Service Pack 3 really matter?

It would be great if Microsoft would create a more fool-proof method of releasing updates. It seems a bit bizarre that the SP3 update was distributed as Release Candidates months before the final release, and yet here we are in limbo.

Some may wonder if it is necessary to install service pack 3 at all. Well, the short answer is yes. Service Pack 3 comes with many of the updates that have been released since service Pack 2 which was released in 2004.

Some of the new features of Service Pack3 include items that have been ported from Windows Vista including:

• Network Access Control

• Black hole router detection

• Windows Product Activation

• Windows Imaging Component

Several other new security options make SP3 a worthwhile download. So worthwhile I hate to ask people to do Microsoft’s work for them, but it is better to install the new update manually than to wait for a fix from Bill & Co.

Maybe the three pillars of software design(reliability being one) Microsoft touts so much will makes its way into the release of service packs, updates and fixes. Until then, I hope the advice on manual installation SP3 will help make life easier for you. Since Microsoft decided it wasn’t important enough for them to see to it that happened.

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