There will be a third service pack for Windows XP, due some time in the next year, according to a report by ZDNet.

Microsoft France's technical and security director Bernard Ourghanlian was quoted as saying, bluntly: "There will be a Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Windows XP."

However, there is confusion over when exactly. Some say SP3 won't arrive until after the launch of Vista, which remains Microsoft's priority. Other reports suggest that the origin of the story was Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer, who reportedly said at Surfa Lugnt - Swedish National Data Security Day - that SP3 could ship ahead of Vista.

Although we don't know what will be in XP's SP3, history suggests that it will roll up all the security fixes issued since last September's launch of SP2, which was itself a major OS upgrade, plus IE7.

In the same vein, you can expect that minor features of Vista will make it into XP's SP3. While Microsoft has been officially silent on the matter, its French assistant MD is reported to have said: "Historically, certain functions of new versions of Windows are integrated in the service packs of previous versions."