back to article Windows XP SP3 leaps into the tubes

Microsoft is giving the automatic web release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 another go today, after an eleventh hour muck-up ruined its scheduled availability last week. The truant XP service pack is ready for download via Microsoft's Download Center or alternatively, Windows Update if using Internet Explorer. Here's the ISO CD …


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  1. Steven Raith


    An official release.

    I have about fifty PCs that require updating from SP2 [I didn't/wasn't allowed to make the image, unfornately or I woudn't have the problem...] and at least now it will only take an hour per PC to patch them up to a decent standard, not half a day with a dozen restarts.

    Given that five of the machines have the previous 'buggy' release on them and are fine, who wants to make a small wager that the 'fixed' release completely fucks the other machines?

    Steven "no faith" Raith

  2. Doug Glass

    The Fix

    So the fix is to declare victory, poison the well, and leave.

    I love Microsoft. They are the very picture of a really successful corporation. As long as they grow their business, increase the bottom line, and make money for their stockholders the rest of us are simply left sucking hind teat.

  3. whoami

    French ISO??

    Erm Why i there an 'FRE' in the file name or is this a french version??

    Oooh and why is there no verification needed?, I am downloading this from my OS X box!!!

  4. zonky

    Faq.htm references SP2 on the iso.

    Very well tested by those redmond jerks then. I just downloaded the iso and the faq.htm linked in by the installer says:

    More information about installing Service Pack 2

    How long will it take to install Service Pack 2?

    How will the security of my computer be enhanced?

    Where can I get more information about Service Pack 2?

    How long will it take to install Service Pack 2?

    Up to 2 hours, but it can be less, depending on your computer's configuration. When you see the progress indicator, no more input is required and you can leave the computer while installation is completed.

    Progress Indicator

    Progress Indicator

    ^ Back to Top

    How will the security of my computer be enhanced?

    Service Pack 2 includes the following new security enhancements for your computer:


  5. Daveski

    Doesn't work

    Service Pack 3 Setup cannot update a checked (debug) system with a free (retail) version of Service Pack 3, or vice versa.

    This is a Dell OEM, so what gives?

  6. mike
    Paris Hilton

    @ French ISO??

    i wonder if the 'fre' stands for Final RElease

    or Fixing Redmond's Errors?

    Paris, cause she is ready for her next fix.

  7. steelbytes

    re: French ISO

    Fre is short for Free, not French (which is typically abreviated to FRA anyway)

    So what is meant by 'Free'? Not zero dollars; instead it means 'release' build (vs 'debug' build, which is also known as 'checked').

    in short the difference between release(free) and debug(checked), is that in release the compiler has optimized the code (typically for speed), and in debug there is typically lot's of extra debugging info and code (making it big and slow)

  8. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Previous 'buggy' release?

    As far as I can tell, the original sniped from Windows Update is identical to the official release:

    MD5 (windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu_c81472f7eeea2eca421e116cd4c03e2300ebfde4.exe) = bb25707c919dd835a9d9706b5725af58

    MD5 (WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe) = bb25707c919dd835a9d9706b5725af58

    Paris, because her previous release was buggy.

  9. Herby

    "What Gives"?

    Its Microsoft. That what gives. No other explanation is necessary (or will be given).

    Out the door. Over to the pub.

  10. ainsley


    Just downloaded the iso, installed onto a machine that has been working for a couple of years = lockup, blue screen of death, dead (completely).

    Probably just a horrible coincidence.

  11. Chris C

    re: French ISO

    I can't tell if you're serious or not, but if you are...

    No, it's not a French ISO. I don't know why, but "FRE" is just part of the filename. According to the Windows Server 2008 download page, "Files are also platform-specific, where 'x86FRE' is intended for 32-bit platforms and 'amd64FRE' is intended for 64-bit platforms." I do agree, though, that it's confusing, as I too thought FRE indicated a French version before I read that message.

    As for no verification, why would there be verification, especially for an ISO? The machine you're downloading it from has no bearing on where you need to install it.

    As for Steven Raith's comment, you (and others who are in a rush to install SP3) are either brave, foolish, or stupid (I'll leave that selection to you). I wouldn't touch SP3. Not yet, not for a long while.

  12. FrankR

    why install?

    Cannot understand why anyone with any experience of microshaft is installing this. The rule is always wait at least 9 months.

    If you didn't realise this, you do now. Remember.

  13. Humph


    I installed SP3 on my laptop.

    Windows starts as normal, and allows me to open various programs.

    In fact my computer works just as it did before I installed SP3.

    Obviously this Service Pack is bugged.

  14. Steven Raith

    @Chris C

    I've had SP3 RCs and 'buggy' versions one the machines I need to put on for a while now as I have been testing them and it's caused no problems thus far.

    Although I'm still 'testing' as far as I'm concerned, I don't expect to find anything scary in there; it's effectivly just an accumulation of patches, and these are clean install machines, so it's about the safest environment for an SP3 install - AFAIK problems that have been found have been related to strange, rare tools and dodgy third party components. Not virgin installations on widespread, mass manufactured [Dell] hardware. I'm not so niave as to just blindly accept that all will be bliss however, of course - but then my machines are not 'production' yet so I'm prepared to take a step into the dark on this.

    In any case Automagic Updates have caused me *far* more problems than redistributable service packs over the years - and I'd rather have machines that are secure than machines that are only patched up to a level from three years ago.

    Simple as. Contrary to popular belief, I *do* have a vague, wishy washy, rough idea what I am doing ;-)

    Steven "fucked if he is spending 200 hours updating 50PCs over a 2meg DSL lin" Raith

    NB: I'm not running a domain, I don't have WSUS and I don't have the option of slipstreaming the current 'up to SP3 level' patches into an image [neither of which I am happy about but my hands are tied], so I hope you can see why SP3 is of use to me!

  15. Jason Togneri


    Well, I installed the beta SP3 on several machines, and they're all doing fine. I'm not convinced about this 'release' version though, I think I'll wait for more public feedback. If it ain't broke, it ain't Microsoft. Er, I mean, don't fix it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Alan W. Rateliff

    I've just started downloading it. There was a little paragraph on the download page about a hotfix for RMS which needs to be installed before SP3, so it will make sense it's the same SP3

  17. Michael Abbott
    Thumb Up

    Noticably faster than sp2

    I've installed it on an old dell laptop and it worked straight away (yes i was surprised). If it works for you i can say it is noticably faster, especially on a laptop with 256mb ram (wooop). I'm going to try it on my other computers and i'll let you know how it goes.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. wobbly1
    Paris Hilton

    Thank Paris I didn't have autoupdate turned on...

    current sp3 gets picked up by my XP MCE machine (both versions knacker the programme guide in the tv app.) Currently the yellow shield of uninstalled updates sits reproaching me in the sys tray.

    Oh how glad Iv'e paid good money over the years for software that can't reach the standard of function of my "beardie wierdie free like beer, less routine maintenance than my toenails, more secure than a nun's chuff, threat to lazy self-serving capitalism like Microsoft" Ubuntu box.

    I am down to 2 critical applications left in Microshafts's camp that whine under Wine or have no OS equivalents...

  20. F Seiler

    size ...

    545MB...IIRC the original XP CD was 592MB

    (any chance this is actually a full install? ;)

  21. Andy Tyzack
    Thumb Up

    why install

    microsoft have already stated that the end user will see no real benefit from installing this update, and I dont care much for the blue screen of death.

    come back in 12 months as there is nothing to see here

  22. Dana
    Thumb Down

    Endless reboot

    Appeared to install normally followed by an endless reboot cycle. Went into safe mode to uninstall.

    Yay, Microsoft.

  23. Sam Penny

    "Buggy" and "non-Buggy" the same?

    I think the only thing that's changed is the "helper" that stops people affected by the bug installing SP3. The bug hasn't been fixed, only bypassed for those affected, allowing everyone else to beta-test SP3...

    I expect there'll be a hot-fix or something to allow those using RMS to install SP3 without being hit by the bug in question, but as it's only one application, it seems sensible to allow others to go ahead as normal...

    Not that it affects me, I only use a windows machine because my employers want to keep it around for dreamweaver and I got the short straw in having to have that machine as my workstation and I won't be installing any SP until it's been out and tested by cynics for a month or two!

    Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny

    (penguin because some operating systems don't suck)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spanish ISO?

    Erm Why is there an 'SPCD' in the file name or is this a Spanish cross dresser version??

  25. Dick Pountain

    > Not yet, not for a long while.

    About a week after Microsoft declares Chapter 11 would be a good time...

  26. Righteously Indignant
    Thumb Down


    I installed this on a freshly built SP2 machine (mainly to save having to wait for all the usual updates and reboots etc.) and found once it was installed I couldn't install IE7. Admittedly I've only tried it on one computer so far but I'm wondering if anyone else has had the same experience?

  27. Ian Critchley

    Where am I going wrong?

    Installed SP3 on my laptop last night without a hitch. Only 66mb through windows update and a single reboot. The whole process took about 30 minutes. Still working today as is my desktop which I updated last week. The one downside was the unwelcome reappearance of Messenger which I thought I had eradicated years ago.

    As the title where am I going wrong????

  28. Steven Raith

    Just a note...

    Anyone who downloaded this last night, like me, the link on the page originally pointed to the Debug/checked package which I'm told isn't the best one to install on a real machine outwith development/debug environments - but the network install [IE the public redistributable that you can slipstream into an XP CD/install on an offline machine etc] is linked there now :-)

    As for all those people going "Dur, why would you bother, SP2 ain't broke" ; format your hard drive, install XP SP2, and don't update it - until XP SP3 install discs are available, any clean install machine is two years out of date patchwise. SP3 redistributable lets you patch those up to April 08 levels in the space of an hour or so [excluding download, obviously].

    Useful for those of us who work in IT for imaging, and to guarentee that a machine is patched to a certain level without worrying about Windows Update

    A: taking hours and hours to download and install

    B: Breaking halfway through and missing patches inbetween.

    HTH :-)

    Steven R

  29. Chris


    :-) Well, I mean, someone's got a 'French' version - then there's the 'Spanish cross dresser' and mine's plain old 'usa' (and no, the system on the download PC is UK English).

    'usa'? Does this mean it's run by a mouthbreather and will attempt to take over other PCs to gain control of their resources on a weak pretext?

    Funny you should ask that.

  30. Jan Hargreaves
    Gates Halo

    much to my surprise...

    installed sp3 using windows update. it hung first time during install. cancelled it. ran windows update again. went straight to install as i guess the file had already been downloaded and seemed to patch everything properly. i have noticed a slight speed increase and everything feels a bit cleaner.

    im not a fan of windows at all, but this seems to work well.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    RE: why install?

    Usually I'll wait a while before installing SPs but I'm reinstalling a mate's pc later so I'm sure he won't mind doing a little beta testing for redmond eh >:D

    I'll pass on it myself for the moment.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Service Pack 3 seems to remove the Address Toolbar (one of the more useful features)

    Microsoft seem to say that it was because of Legal problems (!?)

    Seems the only way to get anything near the functionality is to install Windows Live Desktop Search

    Go figure

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swedish ISO?

    Why is there a 'USA' in the file name is this the Union of Swedish Acrobats version?


  34. James Dunne


    And i'm guessing those of us that were cool enough to choose x64 will do without sp3 until Server 2003 is updated?

    Yay. You'd think that Microsoft would be more concerned about releasing service packs for their Server os, given that its probably valued far higher by its more lucrative customers.

  35. Chris Hamilton
    Paris Hilton

    French ISO??

    Why would a French ISO be marked "FRE", especially given that the French for French is "FRAncais" and that the three letter ISO 3166 code is FRA.

    Avant de taper, engager cerveau!

    Paris.... because I have been inside (the) Paris Hilton. Thats Paris, France for you Texans.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    I've been using Ubuntu since version 1 and there's no need for service packs on this excellent system - why bother on XP?

  37. Ash

    86 installations?!

    Do I have to install it 86 times? Or is it limited to 86 uses?

    Bugger that, i'll get a Mac.


  38. Ash

    Terminal Service Client in SP3

    The new TS client in SP3 doesn't support the /console switch. If you're going to use this function, don't upgrade. Just a heads-up...

  39. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    "installed onto a machine that has been working for a couple of years"


    (We need a lemming icon)

  40. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @Terminal Service Client in SP3

    The "/console" switch has been changed to "/admin". This was noted in a KBA several months ago. None-the-less, I think it's a silly change.

    Paris, because she appreciates the heads-up.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear... DEFINITELY buggy...

    NOT. My laptop (my workhorse) has been running SP3 in most of its incarnations and while the first release sometimes caused hibernation problems, that went away with the release candidate before publication.

    I'll be downloading the new one tonight and spend two hours un- and re-installing SP3 to see what happens.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Ubuntu

    Would that be the "horny gibbon" version, eh?

  43. Mike Mike

    It is the Same as the Vista Activation


    First I am a Micro Fan Boy but I am not installing this service pack.

    Microsoft has changed the activation scheme on this version to the same as Vista. It will phone home and if it decides that you are NOT Authenic, it will then go into a Dysfunctional mode just like Vista.

    Even a simple thing like flashing your BIOS will throw it for a loop.

    Buyers Beware ...

  44. Test Man
    Thumb Down

    Re: It is the Same as the Vista Activation

    Funny that... cos Vista SP1 changed it so that it doesn't actually go into reduced-functionality mode (just nags).

    So in other words, you're wrong.

  45. Kev K
    Gates Halo

    Seems fine to me

    I just whacked it on a clean install (inc sp2) on a old semparon 2200+ with 256mb ram (too lazy to dig out any more) and AVG for a machine for a mate of a mate who wants to do some *web* browsing and it runs fine (MUCH to my supprise) - it does seem to run noticbly faster than a machine with sp2 on it.

    Not sure if I want to put it on any production machines just yet though

  46. George Johnson
    Thumb Up

    What I want to know is....

    ...are the ISP's geared up for all this downloading? The vast majority of home PCs are M$ based so are the ISP's going to be throttling the connections earlier than normal this afternoon? That is usually how they cope with large demand, simply "close the valves" to slow the flow!

  47. Andus McCoatover

    Why bother??

    From the Update site:

    "This update also includes a small number of new functionalities, which do not significantly change customers’ experience with the operating system."

    So more bloat, same shit, different day. Yawn.

  48. Simon

    Installing now

    Yup, nearly two hours in and its still updating.

    If I never add on comment on El Reg again you will know the update BSODed my machine.

    Its like a ticking time bomb with a keyboard attached....

  49. M


    ....feck me it works on both the testing HP PC and a recent fresh reinstalled of Windows XP on Dell D520 laptop!

    It sure a faster way to update the Windows XP SP2 than the dooooooowwwwwwwnnnnnllllllooooooooaaaaaaddddd larks over the much loathe Windows Update over the net.

  50. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    What I want to know is...

    Hopefully Microsoft is still using content distribution services like Akamai. My local ISP has three Akamai servers on-site, and I know several other national ISPs have them installed as well. For the most part, bandwidth should be limited to internal usage, and hammer the hell out of the distro servers.

    Paris, for getting hammered to hell.


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