Windows XP SP3 dates leaked? (and NH5D)

It's IT Blogwatch: in which we think we know the release dates for Windows XP SP3. Not to mention National High Five Day...

Gregg Keizer reports:

Microsoft Corp. will release Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to computer makers and some IT professionals next week, and it will offer it to all users via Windows Update April 29, two weeks from today, according to an internal schedule obtained by the Web site ... the service pack will debut April 21, when it's shipped to computer manufacturers, offered to volume licensing customers and posted for download on TechNet and the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), which are subscription services for IT staff and developers, respectively. Most users, however, will first be able to obtain SP3 on April 29, when Microsoft lists it on Windows Update (WU) for download. However, Microsoft won't turn on the automatic download and installation of SP3 until June 10. more

Neowin's Christopher "bangbang" Vendemio is la bocca del cavallo:

With Service Pack 3 for Windows XP just over the horizon, we've managed to get our hands on the internal schedule for the release of the highly anticipated update to the aging operating system. As you can see in the list below, most of the stages will occur before the end of the month, though forced automatic updates won't land until June. This delay should give system administrators an ample amount of time to prepare for the upgrade or simply come up with an excuse for when things go awry.
  • April 14, 2008: Support is available for the release version of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP
  • April 21, 2008: Original Equipment Manufacturers, Volume License, Connect, and MSDN and TechNet subscribers
  • April 29, 2008: Microsoft Update, Windows Update, Download Center
  • June 10, 2008: Automatic Updates. more

Cyril Kowaliski adds:

The official release time frame for XP SP3 spans the entire first half of this calendar year, but [this is] a much more precise launch schedule ... As Windows service packs often do, Windows XP SP3 will include all previously released patches and bring a mix of security fixes, stability improvements, and performance enhancements. A PDF file summing up the changes can be downloaded from this page, and it mentions the addition of features like Network Access Protection, Microsoft's Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module, and a revamped activation scheme that will allow users to install the operating system without entering a product key. more

Shamim Akhtar wonders if we should care:

If you are happy with your OS install and keep it regularly updated then there is no need to install sp3. For most home users this update will not be beneficial since their computers will never interact with Windows Server 2008 environment. In addition, if windows updates are running on your PC (as it is by default) then you wont need this cumulative update. After all no one wants to tinker with their machines if it working fine. But the Service Pack 3 really comes in handy if you are an administrator and have multiple operating systems on your LAN. In an office environment it is best to upgrade the XP version on workstations to sp3 release. To ensure proper functioning with servers on the network and other Vista workstations you would eventually need to install sp3. This update will be of great benefit if you are installing or re-installing XP. In this scenario let's consider you just did a fresh install of Windows XP. Now instead of spending countless hours installing 100 or so windows updates you can take advantage of XP Service Pack 3. No more waiting for downloading and installing all the individual updates. SP3 is an all-in-one update in this case. more

Brian Osborne interprets:

This will be an important service pack for end users, but more importantly for enterprise customers. Enterprise customers will be able to take advantage of some of the security features of Vista without having to go through a massive deployment to introduce them. In the end, SP3 is just ensuring further longevity of Windows XP. Unknowingly, Microsoft may be giving customers yet another reason not to upgrade to Vista yet. more

Gordon Kelly agrees:

Unlike the teething problems in Vista's first Service Pack ... [XP SP3] is expected to be a straightforward upgrade which improves security and overall system performance. In fact, independent tests have shown productivity speed boosts by as much as 10 per cent - something Microsoft has actually tried to keep quiet so as not to harm sales of resource heavy Vista ... Expect there to be the odd XP3 induced grumbles from extreme legacy hardware and software users here and there - but the feedback I have had from XP3 RC2 testers is it has been pretty much plain sailing and systems do indeed feel snappier ... SP3 will become an automatic update for all XP users in a resistance-is-futile kinda way. Not that resistance should be mounted in this case ... Toying with upgrading to Vista? Here's another reason not to. more

But the very wonderful Larry Seltzer urges caution:

There's no official word from Microsoft ... [on] the schedule ... XP SP3 adds nothing substantial for security or features; it is mostly a vast rollup of previous updates. It would therefore be a good idea not to go install it as soon as it is available, at least not without a full system backup. Microsoft is facilitating this approach by not making the update automatic for almost 2 months after it becomes available. In fact, there are already reports of problems with systems after the installation of release candidates of SP3, such as Media Center systems to which the "banana hack" has been applied not being able to log on to domains. more

And Michael Pietroforte also chuckles:

Neowin doesn’t say anything about its source. Usually, such information comes from employees who don’t belong to the HRDC (Holy Release Date Circle). I didn’t count the number of release dates that were published for Vistas SP1 this way. So I am not yet convinced that this information about XP SP3 is really correct. Sometimes it seems to me that Microsoft doesn’t even have such an “internal schedule” for the release of anything ... my guess about Microsoft’s way to plan release dates is more like this: Mr. Ballmer or someone else from the HRDC gets up after a peaceful night, looks out of the window, enjoys the morning sun, and while stretching he says to himself: “Today is a good day to release a service pack”. more

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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