Microsoft has announced that it will begin pushing Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to most users on Thursday.

The software giant will add XP SP3 to Windows Update, and trigger its automatic download and installation for users who have left the operating system's update service at its default 'Automatic (recommended)' setting.

The announcement was not unexpected, as the company had previously said it would release Windows XP SP3 to Automatic Updates sometime in the "early summer".

Windows XP SP3 review

Windows XP SP3, which was released to the general public in late April, has plagued some users with problems after they updated the aged operating system.

Immediately after Microsoft posted XP SP3 for download, for example, users reported that PCs powered by AMD's processors were rebooting endlessly, a bug that Microsoft addressed by blocking AMD machines from downloading the update.

Later, other users complained that their internet and wireless connections had been deleted after installing XP SP3, and blamed a flood of corrupted registry keys added during the update. The problem, Microsoft later argued, was the fault of certain security software, a contention that at least one vendor, Symantec, disputed.
Microsoft issued a fix for systems affected by the registry corruption less than two weeks ago.

Fix released for Norton PCs crippled by XP SP3

The announcement that Microsoft would release XP SP3 to Automatic Updates came just a week after the company started the operating system on its road to retirement last last Monday by halting sales of the OS to retail outlets and barring major computer makers from installing it on most new PCs.

When Microsoft flips the Automatic Updates switch for XP SP3, users who have the Windows Update client software set to the 'Automatic (recommended) ' option will see their machines automatically download and install the service pack.

Individuals or companies that want to block the automatic deployment of Windows XP SP3 can download and use the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit, which provides the means for stopping the service pack from reaching client PCs until April 2009.

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