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MS pulls plugs on XP SP3 mass launch

'Compatibility issues' delay Windows update

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Microsoft has pulled the general release of Windows XP service pack three (SP3) at the eleventh hour, blaming a “compatibility issue” for the cock-up.

The software giant said late yesterday it was suspending mass download of the long-awaited service pack while it investigates the problem between its point-of-sale app – Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) – and both XP SP3 and Vista SP1.

It said in an email that the update, which was released to manufacturing and volume licensing customers a week ago and was supposed to be generally available from yesterday, will not be pumped out to the masses via its Windows Update (WU) website as planned until the company fixes the bug.

However, the firm hasn’t pinpointed when XP SP3 will be available, much to the chagrin of Vista-shy customers who have been patiently waiting for the update to land.

“In the last few days, we have uncovered a compatibility issue between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and both Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1)," said the firm.

"In order to make sure customers have the best possible experience, we have decided to delay releasing Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to the web.”

It also said that filtering would be put in place “shortly” to prevent WU spitting out both service packs to systems running Dynamics RMS. Once that tweak has been made, XP SP3 will be made available online.

Microsoft added that customers running its point-of-sale app, which is used mainly by small to medium-sized retailers, should swerve installing the service packs on either OS until a fix has been provided.

Redmond pushed back the release date of XP’s final service pack several times, and was supposed to be withdrawing sales of the operating system from the market at the end of June.

But earlier this month Microsoft, in a somewhat embarrassing U-turn that suggested the firm was pricking up its ears and listening to unfavourable customer feedback about Vista, said it would continue to sell Windows XP Home for bargain basement PCs beyond its scheduled 30 June kill-date .

Just last week Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer hinted that XP could be reprieved from end-of-life if enough customers demand it. ®

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