With the first service pack for Windows Vista now out the door, Microsoft is putting the finishing touches on its third service pack for the now six-year-old Windows XP. The official release time frame for XP SP3 spans the entire first half of this calendar year, but the folks over at Neowin have learned of a much more precise launch schedule.
According to Neowin, Microsoft plans to make Windows XP SP3 available on Windows Update and from its Download Center on April 29. Equipment makers, Volume License customers, MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and other privileged few will get their hands on the service pack over a week earlier, on April 21. Meanwhile, those keeping their operating system fresh through Automatic Updates will have to wait until June 10 for the service pack to be rolled out automatically.
As Windows service packs often do, Windows XP SP3 will include all previously released patches and bring a mix of security fixes, stability improvements, and performance enhancements. A PDF file summing up the changes can be downloaded from this page, and it mentions the addition of features like Network Access Protection, Microsoft's Kernel Mode Cryptographic Module, and a revamped activation scheme that will allow users to install the operating system without entering a product key.