Expiration dates for Vista SP1 and XP SP3 blocks announced

If you're an IT professional and currently using Microsoft's Service Pack Blocker, the software giant recently announced that the current blocks for Vista SP1 and XP SP3 are going to expire in a few months. The Service Pack Blocker Tool only temporarily prevents Windows from the installation of a Service Pack via Windows Update, and the block is only effective for one year after the Service pack is released to the market via Windows Update.

Effective April 28th, 2009, Windows Vista SP1 will no longer be blocked by the tool and will be delivered via Windows Update. The same goes for Windows XP SP3, but the block will be lifted on May 19th, 2009. These dates correspond with the official release and distribution of the Service Packs through Windows Update. Microsoft Windows Communications Manager, Brandon LeBlanc, also released a QnA for users who are concerned about the announcement:

Q: What does this mean if my company has the tool in place?

A: Enterprises currently using the service pack blocker tool for either Windows Vista SP1 or Windows XP SP3 will be prompted to install Windows Vista SP1 or Windows XP SP3 as appropriate. Microsoft recognizes the need for IT pros to have this type of information in advance and wants to provide them with an early heads-up to ensure they're prepared to deploy the appropriate service pack(s) when the blockers expire.

Q: Is there a separate blocker tool available if we don't want to deploy Windows Vista SP1 or Windows XP SP3?

A: No. Microsoft strongly recommends all customers move to Windows Vista SP1 if they are running Windows Vista or Windows XP SP3 if they are running Windows XP. Our goal in announcing the removal of the blockers early is to provide you with an early notification to ensure you're prepared to deploy the appropriate service pack when the blockers expire.

Q: Does this mean we have to download Windows Vista SP1 or Windows XP SP3?

A: No. Service packs will not automatically install on a machine even after the Service Pack Blocker tool expires. For service packs, you must accept the offering before installation will start. If Automatic Update is turned on, WU will alert you that it has an important update to install. If you don't want to install the update (service pack), simply decline to install and/or hide the update. If you do not have AU turned on, the service pack will not be offered until you open Windows Update and "Check for Updates."

Q: Does this signify the end of support for Windows Vista and/ or Windows XP SP2?

A: No. For more information on Windows product support lifecycles, please visit the following site: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifecycle#ServicePackSupport

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