Windows XP SP3 countdown starts; only 2 weeks to go

While Microsoft's focus is on Windows Vista, it is easy to forget that the majority of Windows-based computers are running on Windows XP; the final version of its third service pack, also known as SP3 is expected to be released on the 29th of April.

Neowin has managed to get hold of an internal schedule for the highly anticipated release; the 29th marks the date when the update will be available on Microsoft Update, Windows Update and Download Center.

Six weeks later, on the 10th of June, Windows XP SP3 will be pushed to Windows XP computers which have not been patched, byb Automatic Update.

Windows XP remains to be a widely popular operating system despite Microsoft insistence that Vista should take precedence on the older OS.

Vista has had a rocky road till now after registering a relatively modest uptake (at least by Microsoft's proportion) at the very beginning.

Microsoft has yet to commit to a SP4 version as Windows Seven, the successor of Windows Vista, scheduled to come by 2009/2010.

Windows 2000 had four Service Packs before Microsoft canned the SP5 version planning instead an "update rollup".

Since Corporate product life cycles are longer than in the consumer market, it could be envisaged that Microsoft extends the support life of Windows XP Professional until Seven comes in the picture.

However, Microsoft has already announced that it would stop selling Windows XP by the 30th June 2008, a decision that has caused more than 100,000 IT professionals to sign an e-petition against it.