Microsoft reverses, posts XP SP3 to TechNet, MSDN

But only after it said it would delay XP because Vista SP1 gets priority

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday afternoon said it was delaying delivery of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to paying subscribers of its IT and developer networks because it had given Windows Vista SP1 higher priority.

Not long before midnight, however, subscribers of both TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) reported that the service pack had appeared unannounced on the networks.

"To meet high customer demand for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), we have optimized available bandwidth and prioritized MSDN/TechNet delivery channels for Windows Vista SP1 downloads in all Windows languages," the company said in an e-mailed statement when asked earlier to explain why it was not offering subscribers the finished Windows XP Service Pack.

"Once we have satisfied this demand, we will roll out Windows XP SP3 via MSDN/TechNet," the statement continued.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that it had finished Windows XP SP3 and would post the upgrade on Windows Update and its online download site on April 29. Subscribers to the TechNet and MSDN services, however, were told it wouldn't be available for download until sometime "within the next month." Today, Microsoft confirmed that SP3 would be added to the TechNet and MSDN download lists on May 2.

Meanwhile, the delay did not sit well with some TechNet and MSDN subscribers, who took Microsoft to the woodshed over the move. In messages posted to the TechNet support forum, many compared the situation to a February incident when Microsoft refused to let subscribers download Vista SP1, but under pressure, reversed that decision about two weeks later.

Users on the support forum were skeptical of Microsoft's reason for the delay. "Microsoft ... your [sic] one of the biggest companies in the world, and you cannot supply the bandwidth and other network resources, to accommodate your loyal subscribers?" asked a user identified as Happy Tom.

"Time for Microsoft to look at other ways to deploy updates to its paying customers then if it can't handle the load," said another user called OilerNut.

Earlier Tuesday, TechNet subscribers griped that although they could not download XP SP3, the release to manufacturing (RTM) build had already found its way onto pirated software sites. "Congratulations Microsoft, RTM finally found [its] way to the Torrent sites," said Torrentzer. "And our MSDN subscription will definitely run out this year without any renewal."

"Sad when Torrent sites get it before legitimate TechNet subscribers do," said GlassVial. "I honestly don't see the point in renewing my TechNet when it comes due if I can get something via Torrent before I can get it here."

In fact, BitTorrent search sites such as The Pirate Bay now list the RTM build, marked as 5512, for download.

The point became moot late Tuesday when Microsoft unexpectedly added Windows XP SP3 to the TechNet and MSDN download lists, subscribers reported. "I'm downloading the XP SP3 ISO which has just been added to the list!" said jstewart, one of the first to post the news to the TechNet forum, in a message time-stamped 10:10 p.m. Eastern time.

"Nice!!! It's on MSDN as well!" said Brooks around 10:40 p.m. Eastern.

Microsoft was not available late Tuesday to explain what caused the change of heart.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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