## Monday, April 21, 2008

Update, April 28th: You can now download the final version of XP SP3 32-bit RTM 5512 directly from Microsoft's Windows Update in English, German, Russian, French, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese. Korean, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, or Czech - about 300+ megabytes in each case. Save and run the upgrading standalone EXE file. Most of you won't need the rest of this article.

Many readers have downloaded Windows Service Pack 1 RTM (final) together with your humble correspondent, two months before the rest of the world. If you want to check that the SP1 RC Refresh 2 is indeed treated as SP1 in all respects, you may also update
the Windows Search system to the version 4.0.
The update only works under Windows Vista SP1. The resulting indexing service is faster and has new features. Warning: the index will be rebuilt after you restart your PC.

Back to XP

But this article is about Windows XP SP3 that was RTM'd on April 21st. What is the build number of the final version? Well, it is neither 5503 nor 5508 (RC2 Refresh) nor 5573 etc. The number is officially revealed to be 5512 as in 5.1.2600.5512 but the (start/run) winver command should tell you Build 2600.xpsp.080413-2111: Service Pack 3. It is date-stamped as April 13th.

(To see the build number, go to C, Windows, and hover over a file such as regedit.exe. You should see a small cloud with a version number like 5.1.2600.5512 etc.)

See more Paul Thurrott's screenshots related to the quick, painless installation of Windows XP SP3 final. I can assure you that Paul Thurrott has the genuine final version of XP SP3 directly from Microsoft but he won't send you a CD. ;-)
The same document in XPS (use Vista/MSIE to view it!)

Instead, you will have to download the file yourself. Here are the options. Either, you will learn how to use BitTorrent and download the torrent with the following name and hash:
WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe (316.43 MB), 6b31b2c6b881463b4d4ac074ed12722d737bb7c0
Direct torrDELETEent link: from The Reference Frame
It took me less than one hour to download the file and another hour to install it (with one reboot). No problems so far. This file is recommended for the English, Deutsch - DEU - German, Chinese, Russian, Polish, Korean, and Spanish versions of XP only. A version of the English torrent file divided to 23+2 files is here.

Be careful, the official KB936929 page of Microsoft only offers you a beta version so far. Another file offered by BitTorreDELETEnt is this one:
XP CORP SP3 5512 untouched (640.19 MB, direct link)
It contains the installation disk of Windows XP Professional where the SP3 patches have already been added. This file hasn't been tested by The Reference Frame.

Alternatively, you will use eMule or another peer-to-peer sharing program.
With eMule: If you download eMule, a peer-to-peer sharing program, the very same 316.43 MB exe file mentioned above may be obtained by searching for XP 5512. Its hash is 8943241A2282E06240165A68B7F39F69.
eMule also carries a new collection of RAR files, obtained by searching for XP 5512. What you need are the RAR, 00...21 files - and a RAR archiver.

There have been many false candidates I had to rule out before I recommended a correct one. For example, "black edition" is just a modified XP with a "private skin", and so is "XP Pro SP3" (Amit Talkin 2007). Similarly, a file with "ie7 & wmp11" in the filename, ID 07b4098597bc34d967b2a593750a7ffd9a76761f, is from March. Another older promising, RTM-named candidate with hash f3490b9d6eeaeaed2ebc9e79d0c7d2bb promoted yesterday turned out to be 5503, not the 5512 final.
Warnings: you can only use eMule to download and upload free files. Before you begin to install any service pack, read a discouraging story of a user who installed a beta version of XP SP3, thinking it was the RTM, and cannot boot his PC now! ;-)

If you have a program to deal with RAR archives, you can download the same 316 MB file in 4 parts:
Rapid share: 01, 02, 03, 04.
Freeware files
... or ...
Deposit Files
... or ...
Major Geeks
... or ...
Softpedia

Regular users will be able to download the file April 29th (next Tuesday) when XP SP3 final is expected to be released to Microsoft Downloads i.e. to the manual updates. Microsoft planned to post the patch to its paid services for professionals, MSDN and TechNet, on May 2nd, after the regular users ;-). But after many of them became upset, Microsoft changed its mind and the patches have already appeared on MSDN and TechNet (on Tuesday). In June, Microsoft will push the pack through the automatic updates.

The SP3-updated XP have various subtle improvements, including one that is interesting for physicists - detection of black hole ... routers. ;-) There are many early users who argue that SP3 brings an approximate 10% performance boost.

If you have XP SP3 beta/RC build 3300 or newer, you don't have to uninstall it. You can upgrade to XP SP3 directly, assuming that you have the SP3 final file. ;-)