Readers Respond to Microsoft XP SP3 Difficulties

eWEEK readers report the problems they encountered installing Windows XP SP3 on HP desktops with AMD processors.

For more than a week, eWEEK readers have been responding to two articles about the difficulties of trying to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 on Hewlett-Packard desktops that use microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices.

The first of these problems with SP3 on HP PCs was documented by bloggers, such as former Microsoft employee Jesper Johansson, who as far back as May 8 began writing about an endless reboot cycle that occurred when installing SP3.

A number of readers also reported encountering difficulties after they tried to install SP3. Customers with those AMD machines reported a number of problems, including endless rebooting, when they tried to install the SP3 service pack. The problem seems to stem from the fact that HP used the same images for AMD-based PCs that were used with Intel-based hardware. It appears that the patch looks for an Intel driver that is not included with AMD-based desktops.

HP is working on fixing the problem. For now, a company spokesperson has urged users not to download SP3 until HP and Microsoft can create a fix for it.

Readers had their own approaches to the problem. On May 19, a reader called Jeff commented that he had found that switching to safe mode helped him uninstall the patch.

"My HP started looping after the installation of SP3," Jeff wrote. "I went to safe mode and uninstalled it, then applied the fix from HP and it took care of the problems. I am running XP Media Center Edition."

Another reader, who called himself Nathan, wrote on May 15 that he tried to install SP3 on three different PCs in his home and the rebooting problem seemed to have occurred only on one machine, although the other two had problems.

"Luckily, I back up everything on a regular basis from all three computers," Nathan wrote. "The computer that we use for business immediately began to reboot. It would reboot, and then instead of Windows XP showing up, the blue screen of death would appear, followed by another endless circle of reboots. We ended up reinstalling Windows on this particular PC, as we needed this computer up and running in order for our business to continue."

Some readers focused their complaints on AMD, HP, Microsoft or a combination of all three vendors, while one anonymous reader summed up some of those sentiments in a May 18 comment.

In other cases, some readers encountered problems installing SP3 on PCs that were not from HP and used Intel processors. Other readers reported no problems with Intel-based computers. In its own blog, Dell reported no problems with its machines, and so far, HP has taken the brunt of the complaints.

In one anonymous May 16 comment, a reader offered some praise for a Microsoft technician who had helped out, but concluded that being more cautious next time might help in any future updates.

"I will follow my instinct not to install this package until the dust settles; and when I do, if I do, I will make sure I shut down every application, not just anti-virus and obvious ones; I will use safe mode; I will have made the most thorough backup effort ever, I will have that tech's name on speed dial, and I will make sure I have no deadlines," the comment read. "I will read every post I can find on this topic and have a game plan for restoring if anything goes wrong. And I will hold the line against Vista as long as possible."