The 'official' roll-out of Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 arrived earlier today with numerous 'flavors' now posted to Microsoft's TechNet Website.
For those that are new to 'our space', one of the things we do a lot is test beta software, online and off.
The 1st and 2nd Release Candidates of this Windows XP Service Pack have already been reviewed here. From our perspective, while for the most part transparent to the user, XP SP3 appears to be a solid release with absolutely no issues to report to date.
The good thing about Service Packs is that they also act as 'roll-ups' of previously released patches and updates. In addition, numerous files are replaced with the latest official files, so if your operating system has been compromised in some way (DLL replaced, etc.), the Service Pack should bring you back to the latest version. You should keep a copy of the full Service Pack around with your SP2 disk for future use if necessary.
Microsoft will begin releasing XP SP3 via Windows Update beginning tonight (If you happen to have SP3 RC1 onboard, you may want to un-install that version prior to installing the new one).
As far as some reports of a performance increase, it really depends on your configuration, and in any case, it will be minor. On the other hand, there are a host of other mostly-transparent improvements in this Service Pack.
You can read more or download a copy from Microsoft here.