ARCHIVED: What is Windows XP Service Pack 3, and how do I install it?

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Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) is the third major update for Windows XP. It contains all of the previously released XP updates, plus new security patches and a few stability enhancements.

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Notable updates and improvements in SP3 include:

  • An update to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) to version 3.0
  • An update of the Microsoft Extended Markup Language (MSXML) services to version 6.0
  • An update of the Windows installer to version 3.1.4
  • An update of the Remote Desktop Protocol, to allow for better communication
  • An update of the Wi-Fi Protected Access protocol to support WPA2, one of the latest wireless networking security standards used today
  • Updated, detailed explanations in many control panels

Note: Newer versions of Internet Explorer are deliberate omissions from SP3. Microsoft will continue to maintain Internet Explorer as a separate update.

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Installing SP3

Note: SP3 requires a minimum of 1.5 GB of free space, and will not install if certain updates are present. For more, see the Troubleshooting section below.

  1. Before installation, follow the instructions in Microsoft's Steps to take before you install Windows XP Service Pack 3.
  2. Launch Windows Update, either by clicking the Windows Update icon in your Start menu, or by using Internet Explorer to visit Windows Update on the web. SP3 should be one of the options available for download and installation.

If using Microsoft Update is not an option for you (e.g., if it fails, or if you are an administrator trying to automatically distribute this across multiple computers with a stand-alone installer), you can download SP3 from the Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers page.

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If XP SP3 fails to install:

  • Make sure you are running a version of Windows XP, and not a different version of Windows.
  • Make sure you have enough hard drive space. The minimum requirement is 1.5 GB of free space; it's possible that your configuration may require more space.
  • Check to see if you have either the Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit or the Remote Desktop Connection (RDP) 6.0 update installed. SP3 cannot install if either of these updates are installed.

Important: As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP with security updates. To ensure the highest security standards, the UITS Support Center no longer registers Windows XP devices to the IU network. UITS strongly recommends that you look into the options for replacing or upgrading your Windows XP computers for full compatibility with IU systems. See About end of life for Windows 8.0, 7, Vista, and XP.

Search Microsoft Support.

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Known issues

In some instances, SP3 will reset your computer's NTLM setting back to the default for Windows XP. This change most likely will prevent you from accessing your Indiana University Exchange account via your Outlook client (typically, Outlook will continually prompt you for your username and passphrase). To fix the problem, download and run the IU Windows Authentication Update from IUware. Additionally, you may have to create a new Outlook profile.

For help while using Microsoft 365 applications, you can often press F1 or select Help from the Help menu. For more, see Get help with Microsoft 365 software.

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Last modified on 2018-01-18 16:01:57.