I just spent the last 48 hours wrestling with a nightmare brought on by a HUGE oversight in the latest iteration of Windows XP and service pack 3. My sister has an older Compaq Presario desktop computer with an AMD processor. We upgraded to SP3 a few weeks ago and then on Thursday night her system got stuck in a loop where it would not reboot. I checked all kinds of support sites to see what to do, tried every trick in the book and finally gave in. I pulled out my old XP installation disks from 2002- yeah remember XP has been around a LONG time- and set out to reinstall Windows and hopefully restore her computer so she can put off buying a new one.
It took two rounds of windows updates and then suddenly the errors on booting up ended and the install was nice and clean. I had to go looking for some wayward lost drivers and found out something very interesting. The reason for the cataclysmic failure? Windows Service Pack 3 installs into every computer a special INTEL driver command that confuses a machine with any other driver, causing conflicts and a subsequent complete eventual failure of the operating system. ONE STUPID DRIVER! After reading this, I followed the instructions provided to remove the driver which should protect us from a similar failure any time soon, but since I reinstalled before catching this – I may not have caught things in time. You see- if a future wonderful Windows update decides you need the driver it will try to re-install it and screw up the system again. Why the heck is Windows installing processor control drivers without being asked or asking what your working environment is? Talk about poor planning.
Bottom line- if you have crashed your system recently after installing SP3- don’t toss out your PC just yet! If you can turn it on and have your initial install disks, go ahead and reinstall. Make sure you update to SP2- then go to your manufacturers website to check for patches and instructions on what to do to keep the Windows woogies aways.
The up side to all of this is her system is running faster than ever since we cleaned away all of the crap, all of the old anti-virus software and all kinds of legacy crap you never seem to be able to remove no matter how many tricks you try. It is clean and only loaded with what she uses every day. I have had to rebuild machines in the past and it is always a pleasure to use a reconfigured computer- made faster and running smoother once it has been updated and the cobwebs of its past swept away.