A story I've been following involves the possible delay of the release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3). Without warning or even an official announcement, it appears Microsoft has quietly pushed back the release of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to late 2007. This new schedule would place the release at least a year behind the previous schedule, under which XP SP3 was to ship sometime in 2006. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previously announced that XP SP3 would ship "before" Windows Vista, which is now due in late 2006. (Windows Server 2003 SP2 is still on track for release in the second half of 2006.)

I saw Microsoft's new schedule for XP SP3 in a service pack road map that the company posted to its Web site on December 20, 2005. The company has since changed the Web site and the information is gone. However, you can still see the information I saw, as it appears on Google's cached copy of the site as retrieved on Jan 8, 2006. (See the URL below.) According to the cached page, XP SP3 will ship in the second half of 2007, but it's unclear whether it will include new features. Originally, Microsoft said that XP SP3 would include a collection of previously released bug and security fixes.

Sources at Microsoft told me that the delays are related to the company focusing all of its efforts at getting Vista out the door. Vista is another product that has suffered innumerable delays: The company once expected to ship Vista in 2003.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has delayed an XP service pack, though this new delay is the longest yet. Microsoft postponed the release of XP SP2, originally due in 2003, to 2004, due to a security code review. That event also delayed Vista, then code-named Longhorn.

Update: XP SP3 Still Set for 2007
There was a bit of confusion surrounding yesterday's WinInfo Daily Update. It turns out that Microsoft briefly edited a Web page on its site that contained information about the release date of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), now due in late 2007. However, on late Wednesday, Microsoft reloaded the previous version, which contains the late 2007 date. In other words, XP SP3 is still expected in late 2007.