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Windows XP SP3 (Service Pack 3) is on the horizon. We look at what we can expect from it, and what you might do when it arrives.

I've got several questions with respect to Windows XP SP3. Do you think SP3 will install IE7? Have the IE7 bugs been worked out? Do you think people will be able to opt-out of downloading IE7 if it's part of SP3 or at least uninstall it after download and return to IE6? I have almost 200MB of hot fixes, patches and updates to XP Pro SP2 that Microsoft has issued; would SP3 be in addition to the 200MB already installed or would it automatically delete them and just install itself (presumably a download equal to SP2)?

I need to clarify that this is an opinion piece. I've not seen SP3, and much of what we hear about it is currently either rumor or information that could change before it releases.

That being said, I do have some opinions.

First, let me say that most people should not install Windows XP Service Pack 3 yet. Wait until it has been officially released. It's likely we'll see virus emails inviting you to download and install it; if you see them, know that they are bogus.

What's likely about SP3

SP3 will be made available via Windows Update and Windows Automatic Update.

There probably will be a downloadable version (typically called a "network install") available via the Microsoft website (don't trust any other location).

Because it'll be big, I expect Microsoft to offer a CD version, much like they did with SP2.

SP3 will supersede SP2 and most all of the patches issued since SP2. In other words, SP3 will include all of the fixes in SP1, SP2 and since, along with additional updates we haven't seen yet.

SP3 will release sometime early next year.

It's highly unlikely, in my opinion, that SP3 will be a turbulent or problematic an update as SP2 was for some people.

"Will I install SP3? Absolutely, but only after it's been released."

Do you think SP3 will install IE7? I think it's highly likely that it will, yes.

Have the IE7 bugs been worked out? There's no yes/no answer here. I'd expect that many will have been, and that many will not. It depends entirely on how Microsoft perceives the severity of the bug and the cost and risk to fixing it. I'd expect IE7 in SP3 to be "better" than what we have today, but it's too soon to say whether it will fix any specific problem you might hear about or experience.

Do you think people will be able to opt-out of downloading IE7 if it's part of SP3 or at least uninstall it after download and return to IE6? I could be wrong here, but I'm guessing that IE7 will be a required component of SP3. Microsoft has a lot of incentive to move more people to IE7 and to stop diverting energy into maintaining IE6. Typically things that are installed with the service pack cannot be individually uninstalled. Again, I could be wrong.

I have almost 200MB of hot fixes, patches and updates ... would SP3 be in addition to the 200MB already installed or would it automatically delete them and just install itself? SP3 will most likely contain all those patches and more. However it will either not install patches that you already have, or it will replace them. SP3 will then add new patches and updates that you don't already have.

One of the reasons that SP3 is making news right now is that it has a rumored 10% speed increase for some applications. That'll be pretty cool if proven true.

Will I install SP3? Absolutely, but only after it's been released.

Should you install SP3 once it's been released? Probably. It's likely to be a net win. But I'll have a stronger opinion once it's actually been released and more "regular" Windows users have installed it.

Article C3221 - November 27, 2007 « »

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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.

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14 Comments
Nelson
November 27, 2007 6:34 PM

I installed Windows XP SP3 beta version on my laptop and desktop. so far I haven't seen much of a difference, a little of bit of boot-up boost and some built-in application changes, remote desktop client being one of them. but for most people waiting for the official release from microsoft is the best thing to do. I hacked the registry to fool the beta tester server to give me access to download SP3, but I guess if anything happen to my computer, Microsoft won't support me in anyway.

Greg
November 27, 2007 8:09 PM

Seeing as I'll never ever ever install Vista on my own personal equipment, I'll definitely be installing SP3.

My bigger question is if I should upgrade OS X Tiger to Leopard now or wait until 10.5.1 when they've worked out some of the kinks.

Richard Williams
November 30, 2007 7:00 PM

Great article. I appreciate your insight.

Chris Ottaway
December 1, 2007 3:13 AM

I've read this article and there has been several complaints about IE7. What is wrong with it?

Susan
December 1, 2007 8:48 AM

First, let me say, "Thank you." Your explainations of the SP3 were clear, precise and easy to understand. Like other users out there in cyber world, SP3 has been a tempting, tasty lollipop. But with your clear words of wisdom, I certainly will be patient and wait for the best Microsoft version. My laptop cost me big bucks--why should I mess it up with some cheap junk just because I just want a quick taste before anyone else? Thanks for your advise.

Harvey Blessing
December 1, 2007 8:55 AM

I've read the article and the comments. One comment asks what is wrong with IE7. I'm using IE7 right now, so I'd like to know what the complaints are, too.

Yudhishthir
December 1, 2007 3:15 PM

Roll Firefox guys. Why to use internet explorer if you can do it better with Firefox!

Lou Gascon
December 1, 2007 6:08 PM

Hi Leo
I re-iterate all good remarks
SP3 (first I've heard of it)...!
Sporting SP2, when 3 comes out officially, I will certainly upgrade the old girl, but 2 questions arise; 1) is it not possible to go into Add/Remove Windows components and unistall explorer from the Xp windows ? I have done this with Messanger...!
2) The Mrs has Win Xp Pro installed currently without any upgrades - then she's not on the net!
Having just got wired with a router, I intend to put her box on the net (at her request) - should I upgrade straight to SP3 when it arrives - or - should I upgrade to sp1 thru sp2 and then sp3...?
Thanx in advance maestro...
There really is no one else to ask ...!
Lou

Margaret Louk
December 2, 2007 12:48 PM

I downloaded the beta IE7 when my IE6 was giving me fits, and it worked so much better from the start. Now that IE7 is up and going I find that for the most part I have not had too many problems.

Phil T
August 20, 2008 4:05 AM

Leo,

I have a comment. You said "first" twice. You can't do that, it's against the law and you should spend 2 days in jail.

Carol
August 22, 2008 8:13 PM

My system automatically downloaded SP3 but I want to get rid of it - I haven't installed it. Can I get rid of it?

bryte
November 9, 2008 3:33 PM

My system automatically downloaded SP3 and I have installed it. Some of my old programs cannot run anymore. Can I get rid of it? How do I get back the good old SP2? The PC says "There is a newer version installed... so I cannot upgrade with SP2 CD ROM.

Well, first I would make an effort to get the programs working. Specifically I'd contact the vendors and see if there are upgrades to those that would allow them to run with SP3. Besides the fact that SP3 isn't supposed to break any existing applications (though of course I have reports that I does).

SP3 has important security and stability improvements, and I strongly suggest getting it to work.

That being said, check the add/remove programs list for "Windows XP Service Pack 3" - if you can uninstall it at all, that would be the only way.
- Leo
10-Nov-2008

Chuck Quenzler
November 30, 2008 12:45 PM

this question was posted in 2007. Now that it is nov 2008, I would like to know "does sp3 install IE7 automatically?" computerchuck

michael jefferies
December 8, 2009 2:20 PM

cannot locate windows update kb925877 or the shared microsoft tool to remove so I can install sp3 .Is it worth it my machine runs like pond water and smells of it too

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