decided to make release candidate 2 of the upcoming Service Pack 3 available to the general public for testing. While Microsoft has not come right out and said it, judging by the amount of troubles that users have had with Service Pack 1 for Vista, Microsoft may have decided that it is necessary to take their time and make sure that it is right before releasing it.
Allowing the general public to test Service Pack 3 for Windows XP prior to wide-scale deployment could expose any potential problems prior to release that were not uncovered during the Beta testing.
It is generally thought that Service Pack 3 will be the last one for Windows XP, so it is important that Microsoft gets it right. While Service Pack 3 is focused on fixes, patches, and updates, Microsoft is throwing in a couple of new things, such as the Back Hole routing detection, Network Access protection, Credential security provider, and the new kernel mode cryptographic module.
If the open testing of release candidate 2 goes as well as is expected, then Microsoft says that we can expect to see the final version of Service Pack 3 for XP during the first half of 2008.
You can download XP SP3 RC2 by clicking here