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Support from Microsoft for SP2 has ended. SP3 has critical security patches that need to be installed on your computer.

I have a home-built system running Win XP Home. I have the retail XP disc with SP2. I'm wired to DSL and use Google Chrome. I've reinstalled the OS many times, but not in the last year or so. Can I still do it and get it all the updates? I'm confused about the end of support issue. On the Windows site, I read that "support ended on July 13, 2010. To continue to support, install SP3." Has support ended or not?

In this excerpt from Answercast #15, I look at the end of support for XP with Service Pack 2 and look at continuing support for SP3.

Windows XP with Service Pack 2

Well, actually, I believe that was pretty clear. Support has ended for SP2. Actually, as you point out, it ended quite a while ago.

My strong recommendation is that you install SP3 to take advantage of not only everything that SP3 fixes, but also the extended support that's offered for SP3. I don't have the date in front of me, but I know it's still going out for a little ways.

Using your install disk

Now, having said that, when you install XP with SP2, you will most likely not get individual updates. But you should be offered SP3.

After you install using your XP with SP2 disc, you should be able to almost immediately install SP3. From there, carry on with whatever updates Microsoft offers for XP SP3 users.

SP3 support continues

Realize that the support that they are talking about here isn't customer support; it's not technical support. The only support that's currently being offered for Windows XP SP3 are critical security vulnerabilities: fixes for critical security vulnerabilities. That's one of the reasons I strongly recommend that you move yourself to SP3.

If you do install periodically, it might be worth creating a slipstream disc. I do have an article on that:"How do I create a Windows XP SP3 slipstream disc?"

Regardless, even if you don't, install from that SP2 disc. Then, when you go to Windows Update, automatically install SP3 and from there, you will be at the currently supported level.

Article C5302 - May 7, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


May 9, 2012 8:46 PM

Leo, when I restore my XP PC to a prior period using a full system image, it is an image that contains a very early version of SP3. When Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP in April 2014, will they, nevertheless, continue to make available -- for an extended period of time -- all of the SP3 updates that will have been offered up to April 2014? Thanks…

I believe that they will, but no new updates will be added. Thus if a new security vulnerability is discovered after that time there will be no new fix.

Just me
May 13, 2012 6:45 PM

"Now, having said that, when you install XP with SP2, you will most likely not get individual updates. But you should be offered SP3."

The last time I did a fresh XP install from an SP2 disc was in 2011
when I set windows update to DL & notify, it downloaded 80+ post SP2 updates
and it didn't offer SP3 until the last individual update was installed
then after SP3 was installed
if offered me the post SP3 versions of at least half of those same updates and thus I ended up installing over 130 updates

I don't know if they've changed the pattern yet to start with SP3
but I do know that if I start with SP2 and immediately drop the network / offline SP3 install over top of SP2 I only get the Post SP3 updates and the few Pre SP3 that aren't included because they're for Media Player, dot net framework, etc.

Thanks for sharing that. I'll definitely recommend people download SP3 (here's an article on that) to apply after reinstalling XP-SP2.

June 2, 2012 8:33 AM

I was afraid of something very similar happening. I have XP Home SP3 on my computer but my XP installation disk is SP2. I could see many downloads to come up to date so I bought an SP3 image disk from Microsoft for about $10/15. I haven't had to use it yet but, the problem is the disk I received is the PRO version. I can see a different set of problems with using this to restore. Registration etc.

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