back to article Win XP SP2 support to cease in two months

Overtime looms for developers and sys admins alike in the run-up to Microsoft's plans to stop supporting Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 from 13 July. The many enterprise users still running XP desktops, often tied to proprietary software, have two months to upgrade to windows XP SP3 if they want security patches and support …


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  1. Alan Bourke

    Well boo hoo.

    SP3 has been out since early 2008, SP2 since 2004. Even if you had 2000 desktops worldwide to deploy it to surely you should have done it by now.

  2. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Up

    All I can really say is...

    ... about bloody time. Ancient OS. Move along, people.

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Cant see the point

      In upgrading to Windows XP

  3. Anonymous Coward

    SP3 fun fact

    Mainstream support for SP2 ends on the date mentioned in the article, but unusually SP3 mainstream support has already ended!! Extended support is available of course and despite repeated requests MS have been unable to explain themselves to me as to why this discrepancy exists.

  4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Who cares?

    "Vulnerability scanning firm Qualys reckons 50 per cent of Windows XP machines in enterprise land are running SP2, USA Today reports, so the task ahead will be huge."

    Assuming they have the correct data, that's the wrong conclusion. Anyone still running SP2 either has a reason they can't move to SP3 or they simply don't give a toss. Either way, the task ahead is tiny because they won't be moving.

    This date was announced yonks ago and hasn't actually arrived yet. So why the story?

    1. Steven Knox

      AC: Your are confusing Product Support with Service Pack Support

      This article is not about mainstream support for SP2 ending, because mainstream/extended support refers to products not service packs. Service packs are supported as levels of a product for which updates can be applied.

      Windows XP the product is in extended support until 2014, which means that security updates will continue to be available for it.

      Windows XP SP2 is currently supported as a service pack level, which means that Microsoft will continue to provide Windows XP security updates that will work with SP2. This is what will change on July 13. After that, all security updates for XP will require SP3 or higher.

      Windows XP SP3 will continue to be supported as a service pack level until Windows XP the product is out of extended support (2014*) or 12-24 months after MS releases a SP4**, whichever comes first.

      See for more information.

      * which is longer than the minimum 5 years of extended support because Microsoft chose to continue support XP for longer.

      **which, AFAIK, MS does not plan to do.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        not true

        Actually, SP2 is currently in mainstream support. This means that not only do they provide security updates but also phone support and regular non security product updates. SP3 is already in extended support - a state SP2 will never enter since the end date for SP2 was arbitrary as an extension to the standard support you linked to.

  5. Cantankerous Old Buzzard
    Gates Horns

    Trying to push the upgrades

    There will be some XP users who will have issues with this, since XP SP3 REQUIRES either SP1 or SP2 as a prerequisite for installation. When SP2 is no longer available for download, those who still want to install XP ( for whatever reason ) will be in trouble if they don't have a file copy of SP2 stashed locally.

    And I don't even want to THINK about what's going to happen when this group starts hunting for SP2 in the unauthorized third-party download arena.

    Fortunately for me, I'm a penguinista, and affected by this ridiculous dance only by how hard I laugh at it.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Fellow Penguinista

      Service packs include all patches from previous service packs ... so if you have a stock Windows XP, with no service packs, you can install SP3 without a problem ... where did you read that non-sense? Total BS ....

      And stop, please stop, on GNU/Linux, how often do I have to reconfigure X, networking or reinstall various apps the "upgrade" process has forgotten ... GNU/Linux upgrades are far from perfect ... just like Windows updates .... Never had an issue with Mac OS Xor Solaris updates, though. They seem to have in-house testers, unlike Microsoft and Hippy Ubunutu OS ... ;-)

      1. subh

        Re: Fellow Penguinista

        Try Ubuntu. Upgrading has never been easier. And above all, Linux upgrades work, while Windows upgrades are basically fake stunts meant to comfort the customers.

        1. william henderson 1


          if you can actually get Linux compatible drivers for your kit, offline, so you can get online.

      2. Cantankerous Old Buzzard

        Not Nonsense -- First-hand Experience

        I say that because that's what happened the last few times I set up a virtual machine with XP. SP3 refused to install without SP1 or SP2 being present.

        As for your issues with the Linux upgrade process, consider finding a different distribution. The one(s) I use have given me very few issues in this area.

    2. R 11

      SP2 is available

      SP2 is the first hit on Google when you search for: windows xp sp2 download

      Users should also be able to install it through Windows Update.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no dl?

      SP2 unavailable for download?? i thought they said they were just ceasing support.. that'll be a bit of a pain then.

      does that also mean that automatic updates will stop working? -i realise there won't be any new updates, but if i reinstall one of my xp machines i'll surely still be able to use windows update to get it back up to the latest patch level available won't i?

    4. Test Man


      Your post is all kinds of fail. It's only Vista where you need the last service pack, before then, every single service pack for whatever version of Windows has never needed the previous service pack installed.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        No, your post is fail :

        "In order to install SP3, you must first have Windows XP Service Pack 1a (SP1a) or Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed. These are also available when you have Automatic Updates turned on."

        And of course, if SP2 gives you any trouble and refuses to install, what is the recommended procedure? Install SP1 first.

        I agree with the rest of the posts here tho- I don't think they're going to remove the SP2/1a downloads once they're retired.Usually they'll keep it around for support purposes. Although my advice is to just grab all service packs and put them on a CD/DVD and keep it with the XP installation disc. Or slipstream them if you can afford a weekend.

        How much work you have to do depends on how old your XP disc is. If you start with RTM, just slipstream SP1a, then SP3 (throw in SP2 between SP1a and SP3 if you're paranoid). If you start with a disc with SP1a, then slipstream in SP3 straight away (again, throwing in SP2 first if you're paranoid), and if you start with a disc with SP2, just slipstream in SP3.

        That's what I did, and now I don't even have to worry if my XP CD has SP3, since it's guaranteed to. Sure saves me a lot of time with downloads.

        And of course, if all fails, you could turn to the XP fansites or even those download sites...

  6. The BigYin

    So one must go to WIn&?

    Which may not support your apps.

    May as well grab a Linux distro, drop on Wine and have a fiddle. One may be pleasantly surprised. Think of all that licensing money you can save. You're going to be paying for re-raining on Win7 anyway.

    Heck, you could theme Linux to ape XP, cutting down on training.

    Got nothing to lose and everything to gain IMHO.

    (No Linux is not perfect, I never said it was. But for some people it could be good enough).

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Inevitable passage of time

    Hard to believe that XP, released in 2001, is older than my wreck of a car!

    Also, by the time it gets retired it will be 13 years old.

    To put this into context, running Windows 3.1 as a desktop OS until 2005.

    Windows 95 until 2008.

  8. Jason Togneri

    Re: Trying to push the upgrades

    "When SP2 is no longer available for download, those who still want to install XP ( for whatever reason ) will be in trouble if they don't have a file copy of SP2 stashed locally. And I don't even want to THINK about what's going to happen when this group starts hunting for SP2 in the unauthorized third-party download arena."

    You're a moron. Stop giving comments on topics you clearly know nothing about. End-of-life doesn't mean MS suddenly remove all copies of SP2 from the web, it just means they stop supporting it with additional patches and fixes (and, for example, you can still download Windows 2000 service packs from their website too). Sheesh.

    "Fortunately for me, I'm a penguinista, and affected by this ridiculous dance only by how hard I laugh at it."

    You're the one being laughed at, sonny, not the one doing the laughing. I'm afraid the ridiculous dance is only in your head, because it's certainly not in reality (see above). Perhaps your dainty little freetard brain is all discombobulated by sitting in dark server rooms, wearing floppy hats and playing guitar chords on your stringy beard (yes, it's a Stallman reference). Do try to keep up, won't you?

  9. A B 3

    Upgrade to Ubuntu

    I hope a lot of people just change to Linux and run XP in a virtual machine. You've got the web and movies and music on Linux and all your Pre Vista PC games running in an XP virtual machine. Nuts to Microsoft.

    1. JimC
      Thumb Up

      >Windows 95 until 2008

      Yeah I think I was: it wasn't that long ago I had to rebuild my laptop and figured I may as well install Windows 98 instead while I was at it. It will certainly have WIndows 98 on it in 2011 unless the hardware gives up the ghost. Sooner or later the world really needs to start saying **** off to this relentless upgrade cycle which is just parasitic on business: its as bad as the damn taxman...

      1. Matt Bradley

        I'm going back

        I'm going back to my typewriter - you never used to get any viruses for those. Computers are just a tax on business.


    2. anarchic-teapot

      95 to 2008

      Faulty logic, dear boy. The two are hardly comparable... except inasmuch as XP can read W95-formatted disks.

      Whereas XP to Vista/7 means renewing your entire computer park simultaneously if you want to retain a lot of stuff, including networking, or just reading data off a USB key. A lot of software doesn't have a native XP mode, so where's the bonus in moving to 7?

      Please note, I do have a PC running 7 and I quite like it. But that's for personal use. From a business point of view there's currently no compelling argument for moving to 7, whether the company be small or large. Especially in the present economic climate.

      Microsoft might possibly be making a tactical error in trying to force firms to 'upgrade'. We can but wait and see.

    3. mhoobag

      Old stuff

      I work for British Bakeries (Hovis Bread) and we still use Windows 3.1, Sometimes the company has to shop on ebay to get the bits for their system. The reason why companies run old software is that its not compatible with the hardware they need to use, and to buy new hardware and software cost's hundreds of thousands of pounds for just a little upgrade. British Bakeries still use the 1981 AS400 mainframe to do communicate with the Win 3.1. (1981 !!!,,, thats as old as me)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        well that's fine but

        when it falls over they're out of business.

    4. Dave Bell
      Gates Horns

      It's the corporates...

      The same people who don't support your web browser, and recommend you use IE6.

      I'm seriously looking at Linux+WINE, rather than a retail copy of Windows 7. There is little I do which needs Windows-compatible software.

      Oh bugger, I forgot the film scanner and all the family history to transfer.

    5. Daniel B.

      Seen that, actually.

      A mobile comms shop mucking with walkie-talkies and CB radio gear kept one of their PCs with win95, because all the software they needed to tinker with their comms gear wasn't NT compatible. Given how MS screwed up with Vista, I wouldn't be surprised if XP still ran in most computers by the cutoff date.

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Office land

    In the land of offices where PCs mostly run Word, excel, email and web browsers. P4/Athlons running XP are quite adequate at running these tasks so i expect they will be around for sometime to come or at least until the hardware packs up. I dont really see the incentive to upgrade to Windows 7 to just continue to run Word, excell and outlook with a few bells and whistles on the OS.

    1. oddie

      I take it you don't work in an office :)

      when support of patches dry up, it means that the OS you're running will potentially have un-fixed security holes.

      At that point the beancounters will order in new hardware and software (well, actually it will happen before this, there are backsides to be covered after all).

      there's not a sysadmin alive that will be held responsible (and by extension, any beancounter who will take the responsibility when the sysadmin holds up his hands and says 'not my fault, I told you') when your computers go down because of a vulnerability.. and you have offices at a standstill with bluecollar workers banging on the door to HR wondering why their wages arn't being paid :)

      (Hey, the above scenario can still happen, but with one important difference.. that is the version of the story where the sysadmin isn't to blame because he installed all the patches from his suppliers, and it becomes a vendor problem... all it means now is tasty tasty paid overtime.)

      And that is the reason why companies will upgrade the computing equipment in their offices, not because of any new bells and whistles, but because they want the support / someone to blame/sue if things go wrong.

      (to add in more complicated reasons; there are insurance reasons as well: if you've insured your company against these kind of things; computers crashing, company going to a standstill, then they (insert insurance company name here) will certainly make it a requirement that you have a support agreement in place.

      Shit shit shit, it's 17:10, friday and I'm still on a rant.. gotta go, pub time :)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      security support

      You email and web browsers on these are no longer secure once security support patches can no longer be applied.

  11. Indian-Art

    Maybe a good thing..............

    Time to move to the awesome, fast, stable, safe and polished OS, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)….

    ….. if you haven’t done so already!

    & its free, as in free beer!


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    In rich countries it's easy to say people should just upgrade to Win7.

    In poorer countries it's par for course to have ~256MB RAM and a corresponding CPU and hard drive. WinXP came with these machines and still runs fine, and upgrading to Win7 would be prohibitively expensive. (And before Linux is mentioned, you have to be pretty good with computers to *switch* to Linux. Still not viable for the average user.)

    Shame Microsoft didn't design its newer OSs to run well on this level of hardware. There's no reason why they couldn't--it's not like Win7 can actually DO anything more than WinXP, but it certainly takes up 3 times the resources.

    If Microsoft HAD targeted downlevel hardware it also might also not be such a laughable idea to get Win7 running well on a cell phone or a small tablet, a la OS X or Linux (Android).

    1. Chemist

      Re : Shame

      If you know enough to upgrade to a newer version of Windows you can upgrade to Linux as or more easily.

      Mind 256 MB is not going to get you stunning performance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: shame

      In poorer countries they usually don't have an internet connection in the classroom, making the point moot.

      1. Chemist

        Re : Re: shame

        All the more reason for Linux - 1 DVD can be loaded onto hundreds or thousands of computers

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "If Microsoft HAD targeted downlevel hardware it also might also not be such a laughable idea to get Win7 "

      Old hardware is already *sold* hardware.

      Microsoft's *only* friends are the hardware suppliers. It's a co-dependent relationship. They need MS to get their latest OS to do more stuff than the old one (or just be a bigger disk/processor/memory hog) in order to get you to upgrade. In turn they put on lots of new gadets, standards which "needs" a new OS to support it.

      If you don't this fairly basic point of the PC business a lot of stuff seems pointless because to users it *is* pointless.

  13. subh

    Use open source

    Abandon Microsoft. Use Linux. Be open, be free! Otherwise these proprietary software companies will coerce you to spend money every time they decide to release a new version. And to top it all, they will have untested and unknown flaws that will compromise your security and privacy.

    1. JimC


      Ah of course. Using open source will definitely get us off this constant upgrade cycle... remind me again how many version of Suse, Redhat etc have come out since Windows XP?

  14. Kelvari

    I'll be glad....

    when XP finally does kick the bucket. It wasn't meant to last even half as long as it has - none of Microsoft's OSes were meant to last more than 5 - 6 years, tops, and if you look back at their release cycle, we were looking at a new OS every 3 years (3.1 in 1992, 95 and 98 are both obvious, XP in 2001....) until the development cycle for Longhorn got rebooted just before its launch. By all rights, XP should've been dead years ago. Vista didn't help the migration any when it came out, to be honest, but that was due to poor marketing on Microsoft's part, trying to put Vista on computers that can barely run Windows XP (have you tried to run XP with 512 MB RAM, fully patched, or even 1 GB? It's pretty slow, really....)

    The compatibility issues between XP and Vista/7, though, do give a reason to pause and take a look at WINE, though - the cost of the upgrade to 7 can be quite high, with the new hardware and such - but that doesn't mean that Linux is going to be the right choice for everyone. More than likely, though, any 'mission critical' apps will be updated to support Windows 7, and XP will eventually fall to the wayside, just like ME before it and Vista after it.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Restrictive Corporate PC Builds are a REAL problem

    I got a brand new Lenovo T510 on Thursday. Nice bit of kit.

    All completely let down by the crappy XP SP2 build I'm forced to use.

    The ONLY supported browser is IE 6. Yep.

    Why? Internal web sites use a crap version of Sharepoint that only works with IE6 and Microsoft want to charge an arm and a leg plus a heart or two to upgrade.

    Email? Outlook only I'm afraid and no Web Access.

    I'm doing DB2 Development.

    Guess what? The AD policy won't let me create a database even though I have local admin rights! Luckily, I can hack it to get round this but it is a real PITA.

    Guess what? I can't create a registry backup. again AD Policy won't let me run the app.

    Guess what? IE 6 proxy is locked down. Even though I have remote access I can't do anything on the web unless I'm logged in remotely. Luckily, I can install Firefox.

    There ARE NO PLANS to stop using XP SP2 until 2012/13 at the earliest. The build we are forced to use is targeted at Sales people not Highly paid software devs who are supposed to be working in an 'Agile' environment. At least all the portal devs test using Firefox, Opera & Chrome as well as IE but they moan about the 'bodges' they have to put in just to get IE-6 to work at least some of the time.

    It is no wonder that most of my fellow devs use 'unfettered O/S builds' in VM's.

    I'll be setting up CentOS 5 ASAP.

    Oh, finally, I have unfettered access to all our runtime servers (apart from Prod) which run on AIX & Solaris. Strange world eh?

    Oh well, back to looking for another job. I've got my coat on already.

  16. bangers

    re- updates

    If you install XP and go to windows update in 3 months time, you will have one option- to upgrade to XP SP3, you will receive every update after that.

    therefore if you have any other versions, you will not receive auto updates, except whatever it takes to get you to SP3.

    I use ,CTupdate, now called 'WSUSupdate' update from Hiess dot de.

    It allows you to run an local update server and it keeps all updates locally in its folder.

    covers all versions from win2k to server2008,(32&64bit), office, dot net, terminal servces client and a couple of others

    so when updates stop for SP2, ill still have them

    tbh, sp2 updates are useless to me as I only install SP3 anyway, but might be useful to some

  17. David Pickering
    Thumb Down

    sad day when xp support dies

    i really like xp - it doesnt get in the way of the things i try to do - i sure as hell am not moving to windows7 - i tried it for a while but it just rubs me the wrong way at every oppertunity - so inefficient and the ui is just ill-thought out rubbish (imo - did they hire _any_ usability people for windows7?!) :(

    ill be going over to linux eventually, ms have lost their way (ever since bill left imo)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But service packs are free!

    Please, Linux fans, stop and think before you post.

    This is not a Microsoft consiracy to "force you to buy an upgrade".

    It's a service pack. It's free. Yes. FREE.

    Microsoft is, in fact, supporting an OS that they have supported - for free - since 2001. That's a long time between purchases, in anyone's language.

    And think about that next time you complain about "the endless upgrade cycle and payments to Microsoft" when running Windows. Windows XP is 9 years old, and still getting support.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    At the same time?!!?

    So, 2000 and XP Support are cut at the same time.

    XP SP2, not 3, which installs MORE crapware that spies on people.

    Riiight, that version's okay.

    I dunno what this guy above posted about MS providing support for FREE. I'd like some of what he has. Try calling them and having ANY problem that isn't fixed by a reboot, and you'll need to cough up at least $100.

  20. YumDogfood


    Try an experiment running Win3.1 in a VM (QEMU or summat that you can dial the speed down on) and have emulations of the hardware drivers you can customize to suit your needs. Using your loaf might save your bacon when the last i386 on earth goes *pop* :-)

    Then again, a lot of cheapo embedded stuff still uses i386 processors.

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