XP Service Pack 3 – Adoption Rates Could be Worse


Since its release in early May 2008, there has been plenty of press concerning the issues with Microsoft’s XP Service Pack 3. Common sense would tell us that such negative press would drastically slow the rate that folks would update to the release. PC Pitstop analyzed the percentage of XP users that have updated their systems to SP3 during the first three months since its release and compared them to the adoption rates of SP2 during its roll out.

Early results indicated that folks were ready to embrace the update. During the month of its release, SP3 adoption rate of just over 23% blew by SP2 initial month’s rate at a margin of almost 2X. Then the reports began circulating. Not surprisingly, months 2 and 3 have showed a significant slow down in the adoption rate of SP3. While SP2 had reached almost 60% of total XP systems during the first three months of it release, SP3 attach rate came in at just over 37%. To Microsoft’s credit, there have been millions of successful installs of SP3. Considering all the combinations of third party hardware. software and configurations of today’s PCs, it still amazes me that compatibility issues are not more of a problem.

Comparison of XP SP2 and SP3 Adoption


We also thought it might be interesting to see how different segments and demographics are embracing the new service pack. Generally, business are slower to implement change, which is the case with SP3. However, it is a bit surprising of the small amount of difference between the adoption rate of Home and Business systems.

XP Service Pack 3 Adoption – Home vs. Business


Our analysis of adoption rates by gender show that females are much less enthusiatic about updating to SP3 than males.

XP Service Pack 3 Adoption – Male vs. Females


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78 thoughts on “XP Service Pack 3 – Adoption Rates Could be Worse”

  1. I have installed SP3 three time,and three times it wiped out my profile and important files. So, if it ain’t broken…
    I DO NOT have auto update anymore.

  2. The first time I installed SP3 it trashed my system so bad I had to do a re-format.

    After very foolishly setting the Windows updates to auto, it reinstalled it in spite of me marking it to never show that upgrade again. This time I was able to install it & I’m running fairly well, but certainly not as good as before this instillation. I now only allow the download of updates & I choose whether to allow it or not.

    No more SP3 for me, it’s a piece of a nightmare from hell!

  3. Confused by all the above

    I have a 2000 Dell Dimension originally ME upgraded to XP earlier this year. I think I have installed all required updates, but have tried to comply with installing SP3 3x and it just says at the end that it was not installed. No hints or places to go to find out WHY.

  4. My computer froze up while installing SP3. Now I can not get my Dell desktop to load up. It shows the Windows load up screen then all I get is a black screen! Big mistake! Do not download SP3 unless you want a headache, and a computer that does not work!

  5. I am reading all this, and had SP3 burned to a CD so I can install it onto my system, and now I am getting COLD FEET!!! I would also like to know, how to install from a CD… No, I am no Teckie, for sure, just a reg. Joe! Any help would be appriciated… I originally “unchecked” it from the AU, until I could get some more info… Talk about cold feet! Whew! I am STILL debating! Should I, or shouldn’t I?

  6. It installed after third doenload
    Everybodies pc is config differently just cause it worked for you doesn’t mean it will work for somebody else!
    God are you sooo thick you cannot grasp that?
    I’m going back to sp2 cause it has slowed mine down, even though it did install ok.
    Oh well I love pc’s because they often work with the odds stacked against them, but as soon as I have the money I am going mac as much as possible and just run windows for the apps that are not on mac.

  7. Did you check the minimum system requirements like I said? You need at least twice the minimum system requirements to run it well. I have a friend that has vista and he hates it, but dummy who downnloaded it did not download the graphics and the computer doesn’t even have the minimum system requirements. As far as I’m concerned you don’t know what you’re talking about and should not be buidling computers

  8. It’s also best to run SP3 as a stand alone program and make sure all other programs are shut down first, especially AV and anti-spyware programs. Following this method I’ve yet to run into a problem on several dozen systems.

    But BM, as a system builder who builds almost exclusively with Microsoft operating systems, I have to disagree with you. Vista sucks. It’s slow and choppy no matter how much memory and how fast your CPU is. It copies and backs up files much slower than XP. It also beats the living daylights out of hard drives unless you disable prefetch and search. I’ll recommend XP every time someone asks. If Microsoft decides to sue me over these statements I’ll gladly prove that I’m right in court. 🙂

  9. Vista isn’t bad! I’ve been using it for more than six months and it’s great. Those of you that are complaining are working for Apple or Sun? Did you know it’s illegal to bash a companies reputation. Well it is. Also I think that you’re not installing service pack three correctly. The computer needs at least twice the minum system requirements to run it well. Make sure you check those requirements against your computer.

  10. Well, on the top of this page, I wrote a simple sentence. ” Should we or shouln’t we?

    so after waiting a few weeks to see what everyone said, I follow instructions EXACTLY as they were to be done, including the AMD chip set instructions etc etc.

    I now have one totally unusable computer. Am I surprised? no. I have been a faithfull follower and memeber of this site for quite a few years. It seems to me, that instead of the dig down deep exploring what the service packs, Vista and all the other things you guys used to dig into, are gone. Now, Vista is the greatest thing since sliced bread ( it’s not it sucks) and after months of slamming the SP3, all the sudden, it too is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, you can imagine my thoughts after 6 hours of trying to get my computer to stop rebooting.

    Ironically, when I was finally able to get it to that point , its seems to have removed my pc pitstop optimizer.

    Thank God I have another computer, and it looks like I will have to wipe the other clean and start over to what was a VERY good, FAST, and STABLE system, to one that wont one.

    I have never had a virus on any computer, all my computer are fast and very stable, so my thoughts are that if your computer is fast and stable after you downloaded sp3, there was something wrong with it beforehand .

    I just noticed Wendy’s post above where I am writing this, and besides my optimizer, it has also removed my spybot, my anitvirus program and a host of other things.

    So, my advice is, do not download it. If your system is stable and fast, why would you? It’s safer because it removes all your anti-virus and spyware detection?

    My opinion, but it seems like all the sudden, after all these years, lets use Vista as an example, you slam it and slam it, now it is the greatest thing in the world. They buying ads now?

    Just MY thoughts

  11. I had a bizarre experience reinstalling SP3 after a reinstallation of Windows. I had to disable my spybot S&D, antivirus, MS firewall and the like just to get it reinstalled. It was weird but it finally got done.

  12. Shaun M. Erman-Bech

    It’s what I’ve said all along now the last few months… If it doesn’t work on ur system FIX UR SYSTEM sp3 isn’t sick it’s all the weird mix of systems out there… have sp3 on 3 different machines here and have 0, notice I said 0, problems on any of the systems… so get ur stuff together ppl and stop knocking SicroMoft…it’s really a pain readin’ all ur complaints…

  13. I pretty much agree with Chuck Goodnow. Amen, Chuck!
    For now, I don’t see myself installing SP3 in my pc. I have enough problems, already.

  14. My SP3 install on an HP cut boot time in half. However, coincidentally, my Internet Explorer Browser became sluggish. So, tried the new Firefox3 browser and all returned to normal, plus so much more functionality with all the clever add-ons.

  15. I have all AMD processors, Sempron, Athlon and a 939 dual core and I have had no problems what so ever with SP3. Like some of the other posters, I do maintain my machines. I am not an expert or technician, just an informed user.

  16. My observation after reading all 60 responses is simple. Just about every person who
    responded with “I didn’t have a problem installing SP3”, also said something to the effect, “why is everyone complaining”.

    I just wanted to let them know, that one day you too may have a OS problem that will bring you to your knee’s and your attitude will change real quick.

    Isn’t it much more productive for everyone to
    share their experiences in a way that will help each other instead of not offering any constructive input at all?

    If we all stick together and help each other out, it just has to make our efforts to maintain a smooth running computer with little or no interruption a reality sooner than later.

    Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.

  17. What say the staff at PitStop is it ok or not? Some here say it is ok and other say not! So I’m still not shore it is the right time to down load SP3.

  18. Jim from Houston

    I have tried twice in the last two days to load SP3 and failed each time. My machine is fast, clean and up-to-date, so that’s not the issue. My system hung up both times and required manually shutting down and and a hard boot. Contrary to the horror stories on-line, it rolled itself back to the previous state and is working fine. I’ll wait much longer to try it again.

  19. I built my own system out of used parts from a resale store and when the beta sp3 came out I had no problems upgrading and no problems when the final version was released….. My Moms Dell however… the beta sp3 worked fine on her computer but when the final version released and auto-upgraded the fancy Dell crashed into an autoreboot cycle every 1 – 15 seconds. I can’t get it to stay on long enough to back out sp3!

  20. Del Dim 2400, 1Gb, 240 Ghz, Pent IV, SP2; after MS update search, tried SP3 download & install… failed, blue screen, etc; a real mess, had to do system restore;

  21. Re SP3,
    I had been having problems with my Bt wireless connection which included dropping the connection and on shut down getting a ‘program not responding’ for ‘connection tray’ resulting in my having to manually switch off and reboot both comp and wireless. Eventually after 5 long discussions with BT a further investigation suggested my firewall settings which were reset and the problem seemed to have cleared. However, System Mechanic Professsional, which I had acquired some time back and which had regularly, like once a week, told me I needed optimising, cut in on its own and did its stuff without being asked. Next thing was, back came the correction tray error. On advice from my son I installed SP3 and uninstalled SMPro, bingo no more problem, on shut down now for three full days. My machine is a machine is a 6-7year old Evesham with the excellent Evesham with AMD1800 processor which has only required a new fan and has an additional hard drive added for back up.

  22. I finally bit the bullet and installed SP3 around 6 weeks ago and have had no problems, in fact I’ve noticed no difference in my system’s performance at all. I do have an AMD processor but not an HP system – it was built locally. So I guess I’m one of the lucky ones – I don’t know what all the fuss is about!

  23. The only reservation I’d have about installing SP3 at this time would be if I had an HP system with an AMD CPU. Otherwise I’ve seen no problems installing it. We’ve installed it on over 100 of our own (custom built) systems now and have not had a single problem. But then we never use AMD CPUs or Norton AV. 🙂

  24. i downloaded sp3 last month. No problems whatsoever, (i’m using an hp AMD 3000xp). before i downloaded sp3 i was checking out the reviews since i was hearing some negative issues that it had, even saved a web page on how to revert to sp2.

  25. Installed SP3 soon after I found out about it some months ago (not sure when it was released) and its working just fine on a P4 machine, even though its upside down because I’m “down under” 🙂

  26. I own a HP Pavilion Laptop with XP SP3 installed. Prior to the installation, I read all the hype and the recommended methods of install. I then went to HP’s website and upgraded mt AMD processor as required. Then downloaded and installed the SP3 service pack. Install went off without a hitch and I am completely happy with the increase in speed which I have experienced on my laptop.

  27. I waited until this month after the initial reports on SP-3.
    I have had not one speck of trouble with it, even though my machine in two years old. It now runs faster and other than that I can tell no difference in performance. My computer does have the dreaded AMD processor, but nothing bad has happened.







  29. Installed two weeks ago after being reassured by computer press that it would work. It did: it completely trashed my machine, an HP AMD 3500 with MSI motherboard. I got the endless reboot problem which was supposed to have been addressed months ago. This was after installing all updates and doing EXACTLY what Microsoft’s site said. An IT friend was able to ascertain that certain things, not mentioned on the update site, needed to be done first in order to prevent the problem. It took extensive effort on his part and nearly 10 hours of time to finally get it to work.
    MORAL: If Boeing engineered airplanes like Microsoft engineers programs, NO ONE would ever fly again! Unless you have access to FREE, high-level help, DON’T DO IT!!

  30. After SP-3 was released I waited about one month to install. I DO NOT enable Austomatic Update but generally manually update once per month. I installed it on my Dell 8200 (from 2002) running Win XP Pro. I then waited several weeks and then installed it on my Toshiba A15-S127 (from 2003) running Win XP Home. Both machines have been running SP-3 since then with absolutely no problems at all. Since the comments from others mentioned regular disk maintenance I have to report that I run Disk Cleanup, Defrag and PC Pitstop’s Optimize about every two or three months. The results are so satisfactory that I am yet to see the need to replace either machine. I use a DSL Internet connection and downloads aren’t instantaneous but darn near so. Boot and shut down time seems faster with SP-3. I must also admit that I still can’t convince myself to update from IE 6.0 to 7.0 thought because everythin MS releases a new version they change too much of the look, feel and location of familiar functions. Oh well ….

  31. Made the mistake of downloading sP3. What they don’t tell you (unless you go to the Win KB) is that Sp3 is INCOMPATIBILE with AMD processors. Luckily, I was able to uninstall SP3 only) in the add/remove. After a good cleaning computer went back to normal. HP is supposed to have a fix but….

  32. Hi there:

    I finally was able to do the SP-3 install after e-mailing for Microsoft Support. The reply I received included a link to a updated? SP-3 download. This didn’t work either! As before the install failed with the same error (unable to continue). After getting in touch again, the adviser sent me a zip file called “Reset_subinacl.zip”. After running this I was able to to the SP-3 install with no problems. This is the second time I have had this kind of problem, and each time Microsoft has responded with a fix that worked. I can truthfully state I am a Happy camper!!!


  33. Well-
    I finally got smart and turned off auto-updating after several more disasters.
    First, I dumped Vista & installed XP Pro SP2- it is the only stable MS OS- then it got updated automatically & the fun started.
    SP3, with it’s corporate spyware, eliminated my license managers for several “high-end” programs that I was running like XSI, ZBrush, Maya,Painter X, Alienbrain, etc.
    Just another MS Mess- why not test (completely) before the release ?
    I’m not an idiot, but it sure seems like it when I have to re-load & re-license most of my programs again & again.
    Please stay away from it for now- you can still pick the updates that you need or want, but it’s complicated.
    The malware removal tool doesn’t like anything that doesn’t come from Mother Microsoft- another pain.

  34. Every Computer we have installed Service Pak 3 on has increased speed and productivity.Unless your computers are running warez garbage this update should be to your advantage.

  35. SP3 installs and runs just fine. The point has been made that you must follow MS instructions to the letter. I’ve installed sp3 on two of my machines: HP Media Center m7330n and an UMPC Everex Cloudbook. The latter I wiped the linus os and upgraded to sp3 through windows 2000 (full install); upgrade to XP Pro; then down loaded sp2 from the MS site and, finally, down loaded sp3. No probema. SP3 is akinda slow on the 512 Mb Cloudbook but acceptable until I go to 1 Gb RAM. I did all the basic stuff to both machines first: like deleting old applications and windows files, installing regular window updates, and defragging the HDs. I also have an eee PC 900 with Linus os that I intend to sp3 soon.

  36. I installed SP3; next morning it booted fine; few hours later another small update which required a re-boot but NO WAY will that thing boot up. I have to bring in the expensive help to fix this mess, hoping I don’t lose all my data.

  37. I have Via Machine BDC-91532302c01 It was 98 Windows but Xp upgraded over it with SP2 Now i have CD that has XP SP2 and if I upgrade it SP3 the CD be no use? Otherwise Ill have uninstall SP3 then use XP SP2 CD? Just wondering. Thanks.

  38. I experienced the same positive results that Adam had encountered. My previous experience told me to shut down the firewall (Norton) which I had done prior to downloading SP3. I put my trust in MS and it worked to perfection. I then activated the firewall and my results were speedier boots and speedier response. Who needs VISTA?

  39. I have installed service pack 3 on both of my pc’s and have had no conflicts or problems what so ever. The installs went smooth and I run a very wide variety of software and so far so good. No compatibility issues here. I even have some software from the Windows 95 and 3.1 days I still run with no glitches that I use regularly. Maybe all the problems are with end users not doing proper maintenance and junked up registries. Get a free copy of RegScrub XP and a good virus suite like CA and clean all the crap out and your machines will run better. Defragging won’t hurt either. Then try it again and see what happens.

  40. In the last two months I have repaired numerous computers and I have install the SP3 update on some 15 of them with no problems as yet. The computers that I didn’t put SP3 on were those that the owner was said no to this particular update.

    There was however, one problem and it was that if you update to SP3 without doing all other required updates first, you’ll have no luck at putting some of the older security updates.

    The way around that is to go back to a Restore Point and restore the computer, put on all security updates, and then install SP3.

    Yes, I say yes to installing SP3 but you should first make sure that there is enough space and also make sure you have downloaded and installed all previouse security updates. Make sure that you have defragged and degunked your computer.

  41. The only problem I’m aware of is computers like mine that have an AMD processor require a simple work around and then work fine.

  42. to mr. Cohen, so what u are saying is that if we have NOT done defrags, regular scanning of our pc’s then we will have issues w/sp3? I had downloaded it when after my b/f told me about the pc newsletter and what i did not like was watching the background activity that was being shown… in other words i was watching the downloading of programs when booting up… also the font size of my icons were smaller.. i am at a dilemma cuz i called microsoft and they told me the sp3 was a bunch of updates that customers do not download.. i told them i download the updates regulary and they said it wasn’t necessary… if so, my laptop is still saying that i need sp3…was microsoft wrong?

  43. I have just upgraded to SP3 and can say it solved a big problem of corrupted windows files.
    I had to take this course of action because I could not find that XP Home could repair faulty files.
    So far I have seen no problems. It downloaded first time and installed effortlessly

  44. Windows XP, and SP3, are consumer software packages intended for millions of ordinary computer users across the globe who, whatever their skills in other branches of life, do not know what is meant by a ‘clean install’ or ‘msconfig’, or ‘Hard Drive Maintenance’ and (unless they pay someone) have no access to technicians who can do these things for them. If, as Morton suggests, successful installation depends on technical knowledge that only a minority of users have, then the software is not fit for purpose. Having said that, SP3 has worked OK for me (so far).

  45. I installed SP3 on my Asus A7Mseries AMD based Notebook, after waiting a decent interval of 6 – 8 weeks and have had absolutely no problems. In fact, I’m not 100% sure, but I think I can discern some improvement in overall performance. However, as Morton Lee Cohen mentions, Hard Drive Maintenance is likely a factor -I would add that ‘regular’ Hard Drive maintenance is always going to play a role. I would also add, that I was emboldened to take the step and upgrade due to the good reports I read online for AMD based machines responding well to the upgrade. Perhaps, other chip sets may not have fared so well.

  46. I installed SP3 as soon as it was available, before the scare mongering started. I am still waiting for for something to go wrong. My main computer is working a minimum of 10 hrs a day seven days a week. I always build my own units so it is a real mongrel, if it works for me o.k. I suggest that you follow instructions, if you cannot read ask someone who can to tell you how to install. I bet all who have had trouble are computer experts. I always take their advice with a large pinch of salt.

  47. I just installed a New PC, ( HP Media Center PC 864n ), I had sitting here for over 2 years in a box. After getting it up and running with added programs, including SP2 I installed. I did a complete disc clean-up and defrag, then re-booted system. Then I installed SP3. As it was installing it showed missing files that had not been installed when I put in SP2. SP3 reinstalled them and so far everything is working properly. So Far, So Good….

  48. I installed SP3 on my elderly HP 512n a few days ago and see virtually no difference in function and performance.

  49. Since I loaded Service Pack 3 (about a month ago). Just recently I can’t print out of Internet Explorer without doing a screen capture with another software program. All other programs work fine. Any clues?

  50. Morton Lee Cohen

    I downloaded the IT Version of Windows XP Service Pack 3 and burned it to a CD-R. I did Hard Drive Maintenance and use msconfig for a clean install of Service Pack 3.
    I have not had any problems with Windows XP Service Pack 3. I guess those who have had problems, didn’t install Service Pack 3, cleanly and don’t do Hard Drive Maintenance on a regular basis.

  51. I waited for 3 months and finally bit the bullet after I saw an article for a download to patch the AMD processor problem. I upgraded two AMD desktops and a new Dell Intel laptop with no problems. If you have an AMD processor, I would recommend that you install patch KB953356 at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads before you start upgrading to SP3.

  52. I Have found that Service Pack 3 will not
    install on a 3500 AMD HP Computer and if you
    try get a bavk up before. Because the Computer
    probibly will not start back up.

  53. I installed SP3 with no problem on a 5 year old HP ,and noticed an instent improvement in speed and stabality:No ill effect,s as yet and hope for a time and patience that it will finally solve the need for more SP`S.
    2.3 mhz processer
    512 ram in system.

  54. Despite the fact Kim Komando stated there were problems with SP3, I decided to try it. SP3 really messed up my PC. I have a 3 year service contract and called tech support. They stated that my processor is not compatible with SP3, stated it was a software issue and refused to help other than to tell me to usinstall SP3 since return to a start point wouldn’t work. I uninstalled SP3 and have had no TBL since except Microsoft told me in a popup downdload error screen that I needed SP3.
    This makes me wonder if certain Microsoft software is not compatibile with all PC systems?

  55. I put SP3 in my computer when it first came out and have had not one problem. It has been running fine for about a year. In fact I did the pre SP3.

  56. SP3 made my computer Sluggish, and
    slowed it to a Crawl.
    When i uninstalled it, it took a bunch
    of dll with it.
    I had to run Fdisk, and clean out the
    hard drive and reinstall XP pro..?

  57. Tried to install SP3 twice. Both times finished with a dead end, nothing left but to cut the power and go through the lengthy SP3 uninstall and restore SP2. Whole process took more than 90 minutes each time. I won’t try again, no matter how good SP3 is.

  58. I have 4 computers running XP (2 Tablet Edition, 2 Home Edition) and only one of the Tablet Editions would upgrade to SP3; others all failed. Upon completion of the backout after failure, you are left with the message that XP may not work correctly as it was partially updated. However the SP3 backout seems to have done its job. Bottom line: 25% success (that’s about par for Microsoft).

  59. I also was worried about the install of SP-3, since I am not that up with computers. Everything is okay with the Install, No Problems.

  60. I installed SP3 soon after it was available, absolutely no issues and it has worked flawlessly. I keep my P4 1.6 clean and uncluttered, so maybe I was just lucky…

  61. XP SP3 installed when it first came out. Still no problems with it. None what so ever. That being said, I can not testify that PC is faster or slower in any respect. Appears to be the same.

  62. Before the first yelp appeared, I had already installed SP3, so I sat back and waited nervously for something to go belly-up. I’m still waiting. I haven’t had the slightest problem with it.

  63. That’s some great information Lyle. Thanks

    Good idea Robert B Ferus and p5yk3r. We should take a look and see if it’s time to sound the ALL CLEAR or continue to avoid.

  64. Well I Have Service Pack 3 Installed And Its Working Really Good My Computer Is Working A Bit Faster And Every Thing Is The Same No Alerts On My COmputer

  65. I see about 1/20 machines fail on SP3 install, but it’s mostly caused by either an unstable machine or once (lack of disk space). either way, in response to R “should we or shouldn’t we”… you should. SP3 contains important security updates, and unless u install it you wont be able to get the subsequent security updates without redist packages.

  66. i would like to know when it will be safe to download serv. pack 3.. i keep getting alerts when i want to shut down that it needs to be downloaded so other dates can be updated as well.

  67. I had an auto-update to SP3 that failed in June. I am still trying to get the problems resolved. MS even sent me an SP3
    disc for free, but it still failed to install and left me with problems. To their credit, they have tried to work with me but it seems to take time for a representative to realize that they have to refer you to a high level technician.

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