The software maker is putting more priority on Windows Vista, which is slated for release later this year.
In a posting to its life cycle Web site, Microsoft set a preliminary date of the second half of next year for the release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 for both home and professional editions. That puts its debut well past the arrival of Vista, which is slated for the second half of this year and later than both outsiders and some insiders had originally predicted.
"We will be releasing another service pack for XP over the course of the product life cycle, and we are tentatively targeting the second half of 2007 for release," a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail to CNET News.com. "However, right now our priority is Windows Vista--we'll have more information to share about the next service pack for XP after Windows Vista ships."
Microsoft declined to say what features or patches might be included in the service pack update.
Speculation over when the update would appear and what it will contain has been ongoing almost since Service Pack 2 debuted in August 2004. SP 2 contained more new features than a typical Microsoft service pack, adding a host of security enhancements, a pop-up ad blocker and improved handling of wireless networks.
A Microsoft France executive confirmed in September that a Service Pack 3 was in the works and suggested that it was slated for sometime in 2006, but after Vista's debut.
The update to Microsoft's life cycle page was earlier noted by the Microsoft Watch.