Microsoft expands XP update testing

The software maker says that the general public will now be able to download a near-final version of Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Microsoft said on Tuesday that it is making public its latest test version of Windows XP Service Pack 3.

The software maker said Release Candidate 2 of XP SP3 will be available after 5 p.m. PST via Microsoft's download center. "We're broadening the availability of the release candidate in order to receive further user feedback prior to the release of Windows XP SP3," it said in a statement.

The same test version was released to a smaller group of testers on February 8. Microsoft said at the time that it was still on track to release the software in final form before the end of June.

It was originally expected as early as 2006, but has been as the bulk of Microsoft's energy has been focused on Windows Vista. The update focuses mainly on bug fixes and other minor changes to the operating system, as opposed to new features.

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