Beyond giving IT shops a single source of updates for XP, the new service pack also gives XP users the ability to use the Network Access Protection feature with Windows Server 2008. Microsoft said XP SP3 will be released to the Web on April 29.
Free mainstream support for XP, including SP versions, ends on April 14, 2009. IT shops that don't want to pay for extended support and have Software Assurance with upgrade rights may be pushed to start their Vista migrations.
Extended support for XP doesn't end until April 8, 2014, so IT managers can stretch their XP installations for five more years if necessary.