Microsoft occasionally releases service packs for its Windows operating systems to fix problems and add features. Each service pack is a superset of all previous service packs and patches so that only the latest service pack needs to be installed, and also includes new revisions. However if you still have the earliest version of Windows XP on Retail CD (without any service packs included), you will need to install SP1 or SP2, before SP3 can be installed. Older service packs need not be manually removed before application of the most recent one. Windows Update "normally" takes care of automatically removing unnecessary files.
Windows XP was criticized by some users for security vulnerabilities, tight integration of applications such as Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Media Player, and for aspects of its default user interface. Service Pack 2, Service Pack 3, and Internet Explorer 8 addressed some of these concerns.
The service pack details below only apply to the 32-bit editions. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition was based on Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 and claimed to be "SP1" in system properties from the initial release. It is updated by the same service packs and hotfixes as the x64 edition of Windows Server 2003.
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Other articles related to "service packs, service pack, service":
... Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP Professional x64 Editions was released on March 12, 2007 ... Microsoft does not plan to release any further service packs for Windows Server 2003 and consequently, for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition ... Service Packs for 32-bit (x86) editions of Windows XP are not compatible with Windows XP x64 Edition ...
... A service pack can be "incremental", meaning it only contains the updates that were not present in the previous service packs, or it can be cumulative, which ... case of Microsoft's products, an incremental update was called a service release ... For example, Office 2000 must be upgraded to service release 1 (SR‑1) before one can install SP2 ...