XP SP3 to reach most users 'shortly,' says Microsoft

Vendor plans to flip the Automatic Updates switch soon on last XP upgrade

Microsoft Monday said that it would begin pushing Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to most users "shortly."

The announcement, made by Nick MacKechnie, a senior manager for Microsoft's New Zealand operations, was not unexpected, as the company had previously said it would release Windows XP SP3 to Automatic Updates sometime in the "early summer."

"We would like to remind you that Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) will be released to Automatic Updates shortly," said MacKechnie in a post to a company blog Monday.

Windows XP SP3, which was released to the general public in late April, has plagued some users with problems after they updated the aged operating system.

Immediately after Microsoft posted XP SP3 for download, for example, users reported that PCs powered by Advanced Micro Devices' processors were rebooting endlessly, a bug that Microsoft addressed by blocking AMD machines from downloading the update.

Later, other users complained that their Internet and wireless connections had been deleted after installing XP SP3, and blamed a flood of corrupted registry keys added during the update. The problem, Microsoft later argued, was the fault of certain security software, a contention that at least one vendor, Symantec, disputed.

Microsoft issued a fix for systems affected by the registry corruption less than two weeks ago.

The announcement that Microsoft would release XP SP3 to Automatic Updates came just a week after the company started the operating system on its road to retirement last Monday by halting sales of the OS to retail outlets and barring major computer makers from installing it on most new PCs.

When Microsoft flips the Automatic Updates switch for XP SP3, users who have the Windows Update client software set to the "Automatic (recommended)" option will see their machines automatically download and install the service pack.

Individuals or companies that want to block the automatic deployment of Windows XP SP3 can download and use the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit, which provides the means for stopping the service pack from reaching client PCs through April 2009.

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Gregg Keizer

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