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Official Windows XP SP3 available for download (opens in new tab) has tested a method that allows legitimate Windows XP users (Home, Professional and MCE editions) to download SP3 RC1 directly from Microsoft.

In the light of reported increases in performance, this might be a download well worth trying, although you will be left to your own devices if something wrong happens.

The trick only takes a few seconds and requires you to download and run a file which will make Microsoft think that you are part of its Private beta Program.

Apparently, The hack only works with 32-bit version of US/English Windows XP.

According to some sources, Windows XP SP3 will feature 113 security updates and 985 hot fixes but will not include (opens in new tab) any major new features, but it will include four minor new features that improve the system’s reliability and security.

As for all Release Candidates and Beta software, you are advised to backup your important data (including your serial numbers) before installing the SP3.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.