Ben The last of the service packs for Windows XP (SP3) was released to manufacturing last month and to the Web on May 6 after a delay to fix compatibility with Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS). SP3 contains the usual rollup of all the fixes and patches along with several (mainly security) enhancements including black hole router detection and network access protection (NAP). Don’t expect any new features or new versions of Internet Explorer or Media Player, however, given that Microsoft has turned its focus to Windows Vista and subsequently "Windows 7."

As with any SP release, the Microsoft support forums were immediately flooded with some irate consumers. The most consistent complaint was of endless reboot cycles on AMD-powered machines. This error was quickly traced back to mistakes made on the part of HP that have still not been resolved. However, the majority of consumers and businesses alike should expect a non-event in upgrading.

What does this mean for IT ops professionals? It’s a no-brainer to make this relatively painless upgrade — especially since independent studies are touting that SP3 adds up to a 10% performance boost in some applications and buys you support from Microsoft through April 2014. Quite honestly, we haven’t heard much from our user clients about SP3. We can’t help but assume it’s because the real focus has shifted to either Windows Vista or Windows 7, but it can also be attributed to the fact that this upgrade is essentially a non-event for most organizations.

By Benjamin Gray

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