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I need a test machine for testing on Windows XP. I have a copy of 32-bit Windows XP I purchased years ago. The Operating System installed fine on some old hardware.

I'm now trying to update the OS to Service Pack 2 or 3. The best I can tell, Microsoft has broken all the public links for the product. For example, I can't find a download for XP Service Pack 2 or 3 in the download area. And all the links provided on TechNet at Installing Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) are broken. The Windows XP Service Pack 2 website is also dead.

Its probably worth noting that Windows Update is also broken at the moment, so I can't use it to update the machine. Its one of the reasons I want to get to the SP2 mark. Microsoft's FTP site also appears dead. I have not used it in years, but I know it used to work.

Where are the downloads for 32-bit Windows XP SP2 or SP3? Where does Microsoft provide the archives?

  • You need install/slipstream both SP2 & SP3 if you have SP1 installation CD. To slipstream and adjust your installation CD can use nLite. – Adam Silenko Dec 18 '16 at 12:28
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    "Windows Update is also broken at the moment, so I can't use it to update the machine. Its one of the reasons I want to get to the SP2 mark. Microsoft's FTP site also appears dead. I have not used it in years, but I know it used to work." Yeah and then XP went end-of-life. It's dead. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 19 '16 at 13:03
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I use an archive I built from an outdated version of WSUS offline update - in case I need to stand up a windows XP system. You need version 9.21 or older as its the last version that supported XP. Since its downloading the updates directly from MS, and gets the full/offline installers and automatically applies them, these are the official updates and you don't need to rely on windows update for at least the initial update.

This should get your XP box completely up to date, and as of mid december 2016 (when I'm posting it), it seems to update still. This is the best option since it should get your system as patched up as possible, and lets you do so even if XP patches are no longer hosted if you already downloaded them.

It also has lovely logging, and lists of file locations and it lists http://xpsp.dlservice.microsoft.com/download/d/3/0/d30e32d8-418a-469d-b600-f32ce3edf42d/WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe as the location for windows XP SP3. Of course, this link is likely to die at some point, and I have no XP boxen to test it from. I strongly recommend building your own offline update archive if you think you need it

As of 2017, WSUS offline update v9.21 can't seem to download XP patches. The link for XP3 is still valid.

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Go to windows update catalogue and type xp (or only KB936929) in search field http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=xp
You can find there many others helpful packs.
Good luck

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  • Assuming you know SP3 is KB936929. xp SP3 seems to work too tho. – Journeyman Geek Dec 18 '16 at 12:42
  • Thanks Adam. I tried the catalog, but Microsoft appears to have broken that, too. I can reach it on an modern OS, but both IE and Firefox gets an error on XP. Transferring onto the XP machine is a bit painful at the moment because I have to burn a CD. Microsoft is not making it easy. – jww Dec 19 '16 at 0:13
  • You can use LAN to transfer, or copy download link and use it directly on XP – Adam Silenko Dec 19 '16 at 0:24
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Do you already have things installed on the OS? If not, it might be faster if you would simply find an ISO for Windows XP that comes with SP3 installed already.

Otherwise, what do you currently have? SP1? Have you installed all regular updates?

I was able to find the Microsoft Update Catalog site which has links for SP3 and SP2.

Once you do get SP3, you should get the Unofficial SP4 to download all updates post-SP3 and receive new updates from Microsoft until April 2019 (I have tested this myself).

EDIT: I should note here, that while this method still works, you will only get updates up until 2019 April 9th, which is when POSReady 2009 (embedded XP) support ends. If you are still using Windows XP past this date, you need to switch away from it, or disconnect from the Internet, to remain secure.

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    I think that product keys for Windows XP (without SP), SP1, SP2 and SP3 work exclusivelly on those versions. If you want to keep the Windows XP box legal, you need to have this into consideration. I remember having troubles activating a Windows XP SP3 with an SP2 key. – Ismael Miguel Dec 18 '16 at 16:28
  • Thanks Aaron. I tried the catalog, but Microsoft appears to have broken that, too. I can reach it on an modern OS, but both IE and Firefox gets an error on XP. Transferring onto the XP machine is a bit painful at the moment because I have to burn a CD. Microsoft is not making it easy. – jww Dec 19 '16 at 0:13
  • @jww Why not use a flash drive? Also, you could try setting up a network share, see if Firefox can download FileZilla. – Aaron Franke Dec 19 '16 at 0:15
  • Thanks Aaron - The machine was modified for unusual testing The ports were epoxied closed in a hardened installation. The IDE headers are still available so i could use an internal CD ROM. – jww Dec 19 '16 at 1:28
  • A third option if you're still having trouble is boot a live Linux session and use that to copy the files. – Aaron Franke Dec 20 '16 at 4:09
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I know it costs money, but if you do this for a living, it's money well spent: Get a Microsoft Developer Network subscription. Though they recently migrated MSDN to visualstudio.com, it appears that all the old downloads are still there, including Windows XP, e.g.,:

Windows XP Professional KN with Service Pack 3 (x86) - CD (English)
Released: 5/1/2008
SHA1: 29aafdd5abd8cc48eb43d262797d80676e4993fb
File name: en_windows_xp_professional_kn_with_service_pack_3_x86_cd_x14-92432.iso

Even Windows 3.1 is still available for download. Or, for that matter, MS-DOS 6.0 and 6.22. This is one of the reasons why I maintain a subscription.

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  • This will get you up to SP3, but not necessarily the latest updates for that version. – Bob Dec 18 '16 at 23:39
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    True, but Windows Update still works. You just don't get any new updates (although even that has a workaround, as you can use a Registry setting to pretend that your XP is a point-of-sale installation, which remains supported until 2019; see, e.g., zdnet.com/article/…) – Viktor Toth Dec 19 '16 at 0:23
  • @Bob: "Latest updates"... for Windows XP? – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 19 '16 at 13:04
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There's a nice trick you can pull. Microsoft puts the name and the SHA1 hash of the image file here.
All you need to do is search for the file name online, download it, then verify it has the right hash before you use it (so you know it hasn't been tampered with). Just Googling brings up a lot of results for me.

Note that you need to find the appropriate image file (retail vs. OEM vs. volume license etc.).

Also note that this may (or may not) violate copyright laws in your country. You're on your own there.

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  • This is not necessarily reliable - I'm not sure about XP, but I know some MSDN images are different from the retail version, therefore the hash verification will fail. And of course the MSDN version might not accept a retail key. – Bob Dec 18 '16 at 23:40
  • @Bob: Hence my second paragraph... – user541686 Dec 18 '16 at 23:42

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