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Does anyone know if Microsoft releases a final service-pack or rollup when it finally pulls the plug on a version of Windows (or for that matter, Visual Studio or Office)?

For example, currently, if you install XP with SP3, there are still plenty (100+) of critical updates listed in Windows Update. When Microsoft discontinues releasing updates for XP altogether, will they release SP4 or some other rollup that includes all of these updates so that a user can download it, then install the OS and apply the last update (without needing to go online), and be fully updated such that Windows Update indicates no updates available?

I recall that the last service-pack for NT was 6.0a, but does that mean that installing 6.0a and going to Windows Update shows that there’s nothing left to update? If so, will they do the same thing for XP; if not, how is a user supposed to be completely up-to-date without going to Windows Update?

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It's unlikely. For Windows 2000, Microsoft released Update Rollup 1 Version 2 for SP4 on September 13, 2005. They ceased security updates on July 13, 2010, almost five years later.

There is little point to rolling up newer updates anyway because as soon as a hacker finds another vulnerability, Microsoft would not patch it, and the system would remain vulnerable, e.g. have the shortcut (.lnk file) buffer overflow exploited by Stuxnet to spread to systems having AutoRun disabled.

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I disagree with the latter point - its better to have SOME protection, than NO protection at all. – Journeyman Geek May 15 '11 at 0:28
Then upgrade to a supported version of Windows. How many people should Microsoft keep on staff to support old versions of software just because Joe Holdout refuses to upgrade? Now, on the other hand, if you don't mind purchasing a $100 million support agreement, they'll like fix whatever you want. – Joe Internet May 15 '11 at 2:01
What’s so hard about just packaging the updates that came out since the last service pack into one final one? – Synetech May 15 '11 at 5:09

No, they haven't done it to this point. They just stop releasing updates for the OS. Existing updates, however, are usually still available in Windows Update. I recently did a reinstall of Win98 into a VM so I could use an old app that wouldn't run in XP or Win7. I was still able to install all of the previously existing service packs via Windows Update (once I had downloaded a newer version of IE manually that is). If new exploits are found, they are not patched. So if you are interested in continuing to use an older OS, you do so at your own risk and I would recommend running it in a VM that doesn't have an internet connection.

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I recently installed XP SP3 in a VM (XPMode is the same) and there were dozens of updates available (in fact, the more updates I installed, the more became available). This amounted to hundreds of megabytes that needed to be downloaded and installed. Needless to say, it was incredibly frustrating, especially when there was a problem and I had to delete the VM and start over. >:-( Once extended support ends, they really should pack the remaining updates into a final service pack as a final bit of support. – Synetech May 11 '12 at 18:27

There's an unofficial Windows 2000 Service Pack 5.1 packed up here, which the author also calls Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 Update Rollup 2:

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Some people, including myself, have made versions of Windows NT 3.51 and 4/- which include slipstreamed service packs. A windows 2000 sp5 has be made too.

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