This milestone in the product lifecycle of XP has generated a range of questions, some easier to answer than others. Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions along with answers, some right from Microsoft. Hopefully, the FAQ will be sufficient to provide guidance for customers that need to make the transition from XP SP2 to more recent releases of Windows.

1. How will XP SP2 customers be impacted by end of support for the service pack?

Microsoft software products evolve constantly, with major products receiving upgrades dubbed service packs. In the case of XP SP2, the upgrade was indeed massive, with some company employees noting that Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista’s successor could easily have been considered an entirely new Windows release. The software giant only offers support for Service Packs for 12 to 24 months after a new release. This period varies, and is connected with the product family. In the specific case of XP SP2, July 13th, 2010 will mark two years since the release of Service Pack 3. More »

July 13, 2010 will bring with it the death of Windows XP Service Pack 2, a landmark upgrade in the history of Windows, of a magnitude that will probably never be reached again by any service pack. Essentially, when Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) on April 21, 2008, it also signed the death sentence for its predecessor.

Per the Windows lifecycle, all service packs reach end of support within 12 or 24 months after a new service pack is offered. This, however, has no bearing on the overall support commitment for XP. This means that customers currently running Windows XP will be able to continue doing so provided that they upgrade to the latest service pack, revealed Eric Ligman, Global Partner Experience Lead Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group.

“The terms of the Service Pack Support policy do not impact the Mainstream Support phase or Extended Support phase dates for Windows XP as a product. Windows XP transitioned from the Mainstream Support phase to the Extended Support phase on April 14, 2009,” Ligman said. “During the Extended Support phase for Windows XP (April 14, 2009 – April 8, 2014), Microsoft will continue to provide paid support and security updates at no additional charge. More »

When it launched Windows 7 Release Candidate Build 7100, Microsoft also introduced the last two features it had kept safely up its sleeve until then, namely Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. Essentially, the Redmond company revealed that it was planning to provide a fully activated copy of Windows XP Service Pack 3 to all Windows 7 users running the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate SKUs.

Five months after the availability of Windows 7 RTM, Windows XP Mode RTM and Windows Virtual PC RTM, an update delivered by the software giant is synonymous with the evolution of the free virtualized copy of XP SP3 for the latest Windows client.

When Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC were initially introduced, they came with a set of requirements. First off, the technologies would only be available to customers running the Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate editions of Windows 7. At the same time, Microsoft had made hardware-assisted virtualization capabilities mandatory, meaning that users had to run Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC on machines equipped with CPUs with HAV support and that had HAV enabled in the BIOS. KB977206 comes to correct this aspect.
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A change in Windows’ complex and interconnected architecture of components can easily reverberate throughout the operating system. It is the case of the Critical Microsoft Security Bulletin MS09-010, a security update designed to deal with vulnerabilities in WordPad and Office Text Converters which could allow remote code execution in the eventuality of a successful exploit. Although the flaws reside in WordPad and Office text converters, applying the patch managed to cause installations of Service pack 3 for Windows XP to fail. Effectively, attempting to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 via Windows Server Update Services is unsuccessful and the user is returned the following errors 0x8007f00d or 0x8007f02b.

“This can happen if the workaround for MS09-010 was applied to the client machines adding deny permission to file C:\program files\windows nt\accessories\mswrd8.wpc. This causes the WSUS installation to fail because we’re unable to access the file and update it. When trying to install SP3 manually (not using the Quiet switch), it causes an error reading the file above, prompting for a source to update the file or to skip the file. Since WSUS installs SP3 in quiet mode, the installation fails because it never prompts the user for file it’s trying to update,” explained Joao Madureira, WSUS support engineer. More »

Users currently running Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or earlier, and Windows Vista RTM, SP1 or the upcoming SP2, will be able to upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft informed as it introduced the SKU lineup for the next version of the Windows client. There will be essentially three upgrade models for Windows users according to the Redmond company, depending on the source operating system, namely XP to Windows 7, Vista to Windows 7 and of course Windows 7 to Windows 7.

As far as Windows XP users are concerned, Microsoft indicated that upgrade licenses of Windows 7 will be available to them, superseding the existing XP licenses, and that the upgrade media can be used in order to move to Windows 7. However, the transition implies a clean installation of Windows 7 rather than an actual in-place upgrade. Still, the deal has to please XP users, as they will get the full Windows 7 bits at a discounted upgrade price. Users are advised to back up all their data from the partition where XP is installed before deploying Windows 7, just to be on the safe side. More »