I had been wondering whether Windows XP SP3 got lost somewhere in the Microsoft abyss, but it looks like it is alive and kicking after all. Microsoft slowly but surely rolled out Release Candidate 2 yesterday, which is available for download via Windows Update.
Like always you’ll need to uninstall any other pre-release version before trying to update to the the second Release Candidate. Once you’re all set just download and run this small file (it modifies your registry) so that Windows Update will offer you the new pre-release copy of XP SP3.
The release notes don’t outline anything to die for, but I do find it interesting that Microsoft will now let users complete the setup of XP without having to provide a product key. Vista already has a similar feature, and apparently it’s gone over well enough that they’ve decided to bring it back to Windows XP. Although no one will really notice this feature unless they slipstream SP3 into their XP installation CD.
There’s still no word on when XP SP3 will be released, but I don’t think it will be before mid-March. That’s when Vista SP1 is supposed to be available to the public, and Microsoft will likely want to keep all of the focus on Vista.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!