The Windows XP Service Pack 3 will be released to the public tomorrow. A lot of users have already downloaded the service pack from various locations like download portals and the Bittorrent P2P network.
Many users however were very cautious and decided to wait until the service pack would be available through official Microsoft channels. Tomorrow, users can download the service pack directly from Windows Update.
Downloads may be rather slow after the release as caused by the expected rush, and it does make sense to download the service pack 3 for Windows XP early.
Cautious users will be delighted to know that the official download links of service pack 3 have been revealed and that it is as of now possible to download the Service Pack 3 directly from Microsoft servers.
Available are service pack releases for various languages. All for 32-bit systems only though. The languages that are available are English, German, Russian, French, Japanese and Simplified Chinese. All downloads are directly from Windows Updates. If you have been wary before downloading the service pack there is nothing more to fear by using this official download.
Microsoft removed some downloads from its Support website. You can still download the Service Pack 3 for Windows XP from the company's Microsoft Update Catalog website.
Download speed is fine. I'm getting about 330 Kilobyte per second currently.
Windows XP Service Pack 3 direct downloads
The Service Pack 3 for Windows XP has finally been added again to Windows Update and the Microsoft website and every user has the opportunity to download and install it.
The ISO is provided for system administrators who have to distribute the Service Pack to several computers, and home users who want to update more than one system, for instance their own and their parent's computer.
There should not be a problem however to distribute the executable version of the service pack to multiple computers as well as long as they are all using the same language version.
You need to burn the ISO images to CD or DVD first, or mount them, while you can execute the executable files directly on the PC that requires updating.
Network administrators may want to check out the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package that Microsoft made available, which allows the updating of multiple computers on a network.
You can also order Windows XP Service Pack 3 DVDs from Microsoft. Information about the procedure are available here on this overview page.
I never liked Windows Update and prefer to download the patches, which includes the Service Pack 3, as a direct download so that I can burn it once on a CD or DVD and distribute it to every computer that needs the update.
Block installation of Windows XP SP3
Several users encounter problems and issues during and after installation of the two new Windows service packs that Microsoft released earlier this year.
Both service packs will be automatically downloaded later this year to computers that have automatic updates enabled, which could prove disastrous for companies who cannot afford that they computers stop working after the update.
A solution is to disable automatic updates, but that's probably not a preferred solution by many as well as it interferes with regular patches..
The easiest way to block the automatic download and installation of both Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is a Registry key that has to be added to the Registry. This key prevents the installation for twelve months.
The update problems should be sorted out by that time, and if they have not been it is still possible to disable automatic updates. To add the entry to the Registry do the following. Press Windows R, type regedit, hit enter.
The Registry opens and we need to navigate to the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate and create a new DWORD named DoNotAllowSP there. The value of the DWORD has to be set to 1.
An alternative would be to create a new text document, paste the following three lines into it and rename the document to block.reg afterwards.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
A double-click creates the new Registry key automatically. The block can be removed by either deleting the Registry key again or by setting the dword value to 0 instead.
Steps to take before you install Windows XP Service Pack 3
Microsoft released a Knowledge Base article detailing the steps that users should take before installing the latest Service Pack for Windows XP. The article itself is divided into two parts with the first part detailing the steps to take before installing Service Pack 3 while the second part lists possible error messages and problems users can run into when installing it.
Microsoft suggests a minimum hard drive space of 1500 Megabytes on the system partition when installing the Service Pack from the Microsoft Download Center or 1100 Megabytes when installing it from a shared network drive. The page lists two updates that, when installed, will make the installation of the Service Pack fail. Those updates are the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit and Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) 6.0 MUI pack (Update 925877 for Windows XP).
If you have installed one or both you need to uninstall them to install the Service Pack. Last but not least it is required to make sure that security software like antivirus applications do not interfere when installing the Service Pack.
The page lists the most common error messages that user receive when updating Windows XP to Service Pack 3, among them are:
The blogs and forums are full of users who report problems after trying to upgrade Windows XP to Service Pack 3.
Don't install IE7 before Windows XP SP3
The Windows XP Service Pack 3 is available again and many users have already made the switch to protect their system with the latest security updates. If you have installed Internet Explorer 7 before updating the system to the third Service Pack and decided to uninstall it again you might have noticed that the option to uninstall the browser is grayed out and therefore not available on the system anymore.
The reason for this behavior is that the system would revert back to an older version of Internet Explorer 6 that would not contain the patches applied by the Service Pack. The Windows XP Service Pack 3 updates the version of Internet Explorer installed on the system during installation of the Service Pack.
The only possible way to uninstall Internet Explorer 7 that has been installed before installing Service Pack 3 is to uninstall the Service Pack first and then Internet Explorer 7. Microsoft suggests that users of IE6 should update their system with Service Pack 3 first and install IE7 afterwards. This ensures that the browser can be uninstalled normally.
I'm sure that not many users will run into this problem but some surely will. An alternative would be to switch to another browser like Opera or Firefox if you do not feel like uninstalling the Service Pack to uninstall IE7 is worth it.
The third service pack for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system ships with Internet Explorer 6 included.
Update: Windows XP users should update the system's native web browser to Internet Explorer 8 if they have not done so already. While there may still be some situations where IE6 or 7 is required, in company networks for instance if Intranet apps only run on IE6 or 7, it is safe to say that this should not be the case for home users.
Fix for Restart Bug after installing Windows XP SP3
Users with AMD processors that have been trying to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 might be greeted with a bluescreen error message after rebooting their computer. The error message starts with STOP: 0x0000007E (0xC0000005 and contains the error text SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED. The computer restarts and the bluescreen error is displayed again. This is an endless cycle but thankfully though HP has found out about the cause for this problem and has published a solution to resolve the issue on their website.
Service Pack 3 for Windows XP apparently copies an Intel power management driver to the computer that was not there before which is the cause for the restart bug. Things like these can happen but I'm wondering why non of the public beta testers have encountered the error before the update was released officially.
You can only use the following information if you use a non-Intel processor and encounter the previously mentioned restart bug after installing Windows XP Service Pack 3. I'm going to list two possible solutions, one from Microsoft and the other from HP.
HP solution for XP SP3 Restart Bug:
If the computer is unable to boot into safe mode do the following:
The Microsoft fix for the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Restart Bug:
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