HP Fixing XP SP3 Problems

The problems that were reported with Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 3 seem to affect Hewlett-Packard desktops with AMD processors.

Hewlett-Packard is working to fix the problems that affected customers who attempted to install Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 3 on desktops based on Advanced Micro Devices processors.

The reboot problems with certain HP desktops and SP3 began appearing after Microsoft posted the service pack on its Web site earlier in May. The issues have been discussed in detail, especially on blogs such as the one maintained by Jesper Johansson, a former Microsoft employee, who noticed the problem and has been issuing a series of solutions for the reboot problem since May 8.

In a May 15 e-mail, an HP spokesperson wrote that HP is working with Microsoft to issue a new patch that will fix the problems for customers with certain AMD-based PCs.

"We are of course working diligently with Microsoft on a software update and will be proactively distributing a patch to customers this week through our automated HP Update service that will prevent this error from occurring," the HP spokesperson, Tiffany Smith, wrote in an e-mail.

"Or, customers can visit www.hp.com and enter the patch name SP37394 in the search box to download the fix. When the update is available, the search results screen will list the update with instructions for downloading and installation."

The main problem, as Johansson and others see it, happened because HP, and possibly other OEMs, used the same images for AMD-based PCs that were used with Intel-based hardware. The result for customers with those AMD machines when the SP3 service pack was applied turned out to be a number of problems, including endless rebooting.

In her e-mail, Smith wrote that the early users of XP SP3 seemed to have had the most problems. When SP3 boots up on these machines, she wrote, it looks for an Intel driver that isn't installed on AMD-based PCs.

"The affected HP systems do not have an Intel driver loaded onto them, but there is a services registry entry that SP3 appears to be recognizing as an instruction to load the Intel driver, and when it can't find it, it causes the reboot loop," Smith wrote.

On its Web site, HP is offering support for those trying to fix the rebooting problem and also an article on how to recover from the error.

The majority of the problems seem to be mainly related to HP and its PCs. On one of Dell's blogs, David Graves wrote that problem goes back to the Intel driver being installed on machines that use AMD chips.

"This is not an AMD or Microsoft issue," Graves wrote. "It's an issue of matching the correct software image with the correct hardware. I talked to our software engineers and it seems the real culprit is a driver called intelppm.sys. By the name, you can probably tell that this is an Intel driver ... and it causes issues with AMD-based systems."