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Should I Upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 3?

by Oscar Sodani
October 20, 2008

Oscar Sodani is a founder of Help2Go and owner of Help2Go Networks, an IT consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. Oscar holds the CISSP certification as well as industry certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell.

We've heard a lot from people who wonder whether they should be upgrading their PCs to ther latest service pack from Microsoft. Given the never-ending problems with Vista, people have a right to be tentative with Microsoft software releases. And as we discovered, they are correct in taking the conservative path...

XP SP3 - New Features?

Before we delve into the potential problems with Service Pack 3, we should first examine whether the features are even worth upgrading for. And the resounding answer from around the Internet community is: No.

There are a couple of nifty security enhancements to the networking of Windows XP, but the biggest security features, "Network Access Protection", only works if you are connecting to a Windows 2008 Server. So that is useless for 99% of home users. Besides that, there is nothing to point at that will make your computing experience faster or easier.

XP SP3 - Problems?

So, if there aren't many new features, it should be a breeze to install, right? Yes - but that hasn't stopped some issues from popping up on various types of computers. Some get stuck in an endless rebooting loop, but as of this writing, many of these problems have since been fixed by Microsoft. The latest issue to arise is that SP3 doesn't allow you to install .NET updates in some instances.

Should I?

The question you need to ask yourself is - do I have the time right now to address any problems that might occur during the installation? It should go fine for most people, but you might be one of the unlucky few. As with any software upgrade, make sure that you don't put yourself in an untimely hole just before your annual report/doctoral thesis/book report is due.

When you're ready, go ahead with the upgrade and hope you're in the happy majority of users with no issues. But there's no rush - there simply isn't anything in SP3 that should make you want to jump in right away.

Additional reading:
Don't let XP Service Pack 3 hose your system

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