Microsoft had just added the much anticipated Service Pack 3 Release Candidate ( The closest stage of software development to the final version) for the Windows XP Operating System ( OS ) to their download center last night. The Windows XP SP3 RC is now available for all Windows XP users, and it seems that even those with ehem.... " Un-Genuine " Windows XP OS installed in their systems can also download and install the RC, but I'm not quite sure about that, since mine is genuine.
The SP3 RC was in private testing for quite sometime, and now that Microsoft had moved it to public testing, I think Microsoft is very confident with The RC's integrity, otherwise they wouldn't had released it to the public. And I also think that it is almost guaranteed that Microsoft will release the SP3's Final Version at the early next year.
During the SP3 RC's private testing, many testers claimed that the RC brought about 10% performance boost to their Windows XP systems, something that Microsoft still has not officially confirm and publicize. If you ask me, I would say that Microsoft does not want people to have a renewed interest on the last generation Windows XP, now that Microsoft is busy trying to get more people to use it's latest but not very well received Windows Vista.
Beside the performance boost, the RC also obviously offers better security and some more features to the old but still very popular Windows XP.
Currently the SP3 RC for Windows XP can only be downloaded by the public from Microsoft's Download Center, but going there directly and looking for the RC is quite tricky, because it is "slightly hidden". So to make it easier for readers to get the RC, [Register or Login to view links] is the link to the Windows XP SP3 RC Public download page.
There is only one installer file to download and it is about 340 MB in size, and by the way, the installer has the feature to back up necessary system files, so it should be pretty safe to try this RC out.