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Microsoft releases new XP SP3 test version

A second near-final "release candidate" has been issued to select beta testers. Company expects to have the XP update ready by the end of June.

Microsoft said Friday that it has issued a second near-final "release candidate" version of Windows XP Service Pack 3. The move follows the company having finished the first service pack for Windows Vista.

"Yesterday, we released Windows XP SP3 RC 2 to private beta testers," the software maker said in a statement. "This release catches the build up on previously released hotfixes and responds to critical feedback from previous betas."

The software maker repeated that it plans to finalize the XP update by the end of June, but added its customary hedging that its "timing will always be based on customer feedback as a first priority."

The third (and perhaps final) service pack for Windows XP was originally expected as early as 2006, but was pushed back as the Windows team focused on getting Vista, and then Vista Service Pack 1, out the door.