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Slipstream Service Pack 3 into your XP disc

Service Pack 3, the final major update for Windows XP, is now available for download. Rather than installing it on top of my XP installation, I prefer to slipstream it into a new install disc so it's already there upon installation. To create a bootable XP Home or Professional install disc that includes SP3, follow these steps:
  1. Create a folder on your C: drive named xp.
  2. Copy everything from your XP with SP2 install CD to C:\xp. If your CD doesn't already include SP2, you'll have to follow these same steps to slipstream SP2, then follow them again to slipstream SP3 on top of it.
  3. Download SP3 from Microsoft to the C: drive. You could use nLite's Integrate a Service Pack feature at this point to slipstream SP3, but for no real reason I like to use Microsoft's method. I still use nLite to create the ISO later.
  4. From the command line (Start, Run, cmd), run windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe -x:c:\sp3. This will extract the executable to a new folder called C:\sp3.
  5. From the command line, run c:\sp3\i386\update\update.exe /integrate:c:\xp.
  6. Once this completes, your C:\xp folder will have an updated copy of the XP installation files that includes SP3.
  7. Download and install nLite.
  8. Run nLite. Choose your language and click Next.
  9. When it asks for your XP installation location, browse to C:\xp. nLite should recognize this source as XP with SP3.
  10. Click Next until you get to the Task Selection screen. Select only the last task, Create a Bootable ISO. Click Next.
  11. Choose a label and filename for your ISO. nLite will create an ISO (disc image file) that you can burn to CD with your favorite ISO burning program. If you don't have a program that will burn ISOs, try ISO Recorder.
  12. Boot from this CD and install XP as normal, with one exception: don't enter your Product Key. Just click Next and choose to not enter it. Apparently it's better to do this with the Activation Wizard after installation.
Once installation completes, you'll have a fresh copy of XP that already includes SP3.

Thanks to Paul Thurrott of for his SP3 Slipstreaming Guide. You can hear Paul on the Windows Weekly podcast.
For more about nLite, see the slightly aged but still excellent nLite guide.


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