After much teasing, Microsoft’s long-awaited final Windows XP service pack 3 became available on Tuesday (opens in new tab) via manual download and automatic update.
Microsoft halted the planned release of Service Pack 3 one week ago when the company discovered that the new software interfered with another piece of Microsoft software called Dynamics Retail Management System. Microsoft also stopped downloads of the previously released Vista Service Pack 1 for the same reason — both updates were determined to cause data loss when paired with Dynamic Retail Management System. Microsoft since prevented as many DRMS users as possible from installing the two service packs by implementing a filter.
As of Tuesday, the first publicly-available final version of Service Pack 3 can be downloaded online, or, it will automatically download as part of regularly scheduled Windows Update routines. It has been nearly four years since Windows XP Service Pack 2 launched in August 2004, so consumers running XP machines may have built up expectations for noticeable and vast improvements to their operating system. Unfortunately, most users will likely not notice many changes when they install SP3.
Most of the fixes inside the pack have been released previously through Windows Update. The new fixes change things like security options control panels and product activation updates and make these settings similar to those available in Windows Vista.