As you undoubtedly know by now, the first Release Candidate for Windows XP SP3
is live. At the end of the past week, accompanying the Windows Vista SP1 Release Candidate Preview, XP SP3 was made available via Microsoft Connect. The Redmond company has made a tradition out of synchronizing the updates for Windows Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 and Windows XP SP3. And in this sense development milestones of the three operating
systems have been joined at the hip ever since the first Beta previews for Vista SP1 and XP SP3 hit in July 2007.
XP SP3 RC is currently available to in excess of 15,000 testers, namely the participants in the test driving of Vista SP1 RC Preview. But unlike the new development milestone for Windows Vista, the XP SP3 is not a preview, but actually the full release candidate. But even with the latest build of XP SP3 available, there is simply no word from Microsoft on the availability of the final version of the third and final service pack for Windows XP.
In this context, there is no telling when you will be getting an actual taste of XP SP3, although Microsoft confirmed to Mary Jo Foley that a broadening of the beta testing for XP's final service pack is on the horizon. "Late last week, Windows XP SP3 was made available to about 15,000 beta testers. A broader beta will be available at a later date. We are targeting 1H 2008 for the release of XP SP3 RTM, though our timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority," revealed a Microsoft representative.
But until you will be able to get a hold of SP3 RC for yourselves, I have included a few screenshots of the service pack deployed on copies of Windows XP Media Center editions at the bottom of this article. I do realize that these are but crumbs from the XP SP3 RC feast, but your options are limited at this time with the restrictions the Redmond company has in place. A sneak peek at XP SP3 RC will reveal that the service pack is labeled as Build 2600.xpsp.071030-1537: Service Pack 3, v.3244. This is nothing more and nothing less than the Release Candidate for XP SP3.