As far as Microsoft is concerned, Windows XP SP3 is very much alive. The third service pack for Windows XP has in fact never been officially canceled. Actually, XP SP3 has recently come into the limelight following some generous official references in no less than three Microsoft press releases. One of the documents even promised that SP3 would be delivered by the end of 2007. Following the Sp3 buzz that ensued, Microsoft proceeded to put the hopes of Windows XP users down stating that it had been a mistake, and that all three examples in the press releases
were erroneous. The Redmond Company only denied the availability date of SP3, but re-affirmed that the
service pack will be delivered.
But Microsoft has failed to put the service pack where its mouth is. Although it claims loud and clear that it is committed to delivering Windows XP SP3 in the second half of 2008, this is certainly not a new tune for Microsoft. As a matter of fact, the third service pack for Windows XP was initially planned for delivery in 2006. Because it coincided with the availability of Windows Vista, it was postponed to the second half of 2007. The Redmond Company ended up pushing the service pack at the end of 2008. The pattern of delays could possibly spell the first clue to the cancellation of Windows XP SP3.
Windows Vista is the second reason that can potentially contribute with a nail to the coffin of XP SP3. Vista is currently Microsoft's top priority. The fact that the operating system is selling at double the rate of Windows XP is a clear indication on which horse Microsoft has put its money. The Redmond Company has not officially named XP expired, but we are dealing with an operating system that hit the shelves back in 2001. In this context, Microsoft is getting ready to "celebrate" the end date of "Direct OEM and Retail License Availability" on January 31, 2008 and the end date for "System Builder License Availability" on January 31, 2009. By the end of 2008, Windows Vista's momentum will somewhat run out. It is only natural. And Windows XP will still have a strong installed base. It currently dominates the operating system market with a share of 82.65%. Vista can only grow in the space left open by XP, and as XP is supported until 2014, the last signal that Microsoft wants customers to get is that the third service pack will continue to make the operating system a valid choice over Vista.
The third reason has of course to do with Windows Seven. Currently, Vista's successor is planned for 2009. This means that, by the second half of 2008, Microsoft should already be testing at least an early milestone. And the fact of the matter is that between Windows Vista and Windows seven, there will be little to no room at all left for Windows XP, and even less for XP SP3.