After much (deliberate?) delay, the release dates of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP have been confirmed.
Yes, I said dates because as is usual for the launch of such a major patch Microsoft is doing it in stages. Consequently OEMs will be getting SP3 first on 21 April with it appearing on Windows Update on 29 April. There is then a wait until 10 June when SP3 will become an automatic update for all XP users in a resistance-is-futile kinda way.
Not that resistance should be mounted in this case, after all - unlike the teething problems in Vista's first Service Pack - XP3 is expected to be a straightforward upgrade which improves security and overall system performance. In fact, independent tests have shown productivity speed boosts by as much as 10 per cent - something Microsoft has actually tried to keep quiet so as not to harm sales of resource heavy Vista.
Flies in the ointment? Well naturally enough, expect there to be the odd XP3 induced grumbles from extreme legacy hardware and software users here and there - but the feedback I have had from XP3 RC2 testers is it has been pretty much plain sailing and systems do indeed feel snappier.
Toying with upgrading to Vista? Here's another reason not to...