Windows XP Service Pack 2, or SP2, will contain a number of new features. Most of the improvements deal with security. One new feature, for example, is a Security Center that provides a view of a PC's key protection settings. An improved firewall and other tweaks are also planned.
This is the second time that Microsoft has delayed SP2, which was originally expected in June. Earlier this year, Microsoft said that the update would be.
The company gave no reasons for new delay. Last month, a number of Windows enthusiast Web sites reported that Microsoft had run into compatibility problems between SP2 and other software.
Microsoft representatives were unavailable for comment.
In June, the company, or release candidate, of SP2.
The company says it plans to distribute SP2 using a new version of its Windows Update service, its online software distribution tool.
Work on Service Pack 2 has consumed a far greater amount of resources than the software maker originally intended. Company executives have said that work on SP2 required the company to pull engineers off of, the next major release of Windows, which is expected in 2006.
Separately, Microsoft on Monday said it plans to begin a new service for partners called Windows Marketplace. The service will include an online shopping and download site that will let partner buy software and hardware that works with Windows. The company is partnering with CNET Networks, the publisher of News.com, to launch the site later this year.