Microsoft has made release candidate 2 of Windows XP Service Pack 3 available to the public, following the release of a beta version a few weeks ago. RC2 is believed to be the final version of the Windows XP operating system.
SP3 RC2 can be obtained through Windows Update, however users will need to change some registry settings for the update to be sent. It is still a test version, but the release of the final version is believed to be imminent.
The release of the service pack has been postponed several times, and the Windows XP operating system will be pulled from the market in June.
Microsoft will continue to issues patches for security vulnerabilities to support customers still using the system, but no new service packs will be issued.
Many business customers are still using Windows XP in preference to its successor, Windows Vista. The retirement of XP is likely to give them a push to upgrade.
Current performance issues with Vista should be dealt with in Vista SP1, which is due for release next month.
SP3 RC2 adds networking and security improvements to Windows XP, together with compatibility with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 security credential providers.
It also incorporates features such as Micorsoft Windows Imaging Component (WIC), Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0, and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. These were previously available individually as separate updates.