Hash Town

Friday, October 08, 2004

Service Pack 2 or Sucky Programming 2?

Score: 0 for Microsoft

I've had my first official SP2 problem. After a clean format and install of XP on a brand new laptop, I installed SP2 - half way through I got the following error:

Luckily, the newsgroups have been able to help me through this; however, I had to reboot the PC before I could attempt any of this because it had locked up.

Score: -2 for Microsoft
  • -1 for not naming the damn .dll thing the right way on a fresh install
  • -1 for locking up instead of letting me cancel the SP2 install (and the damn looping dialog box)
Well, I really couldn't reboot, because I was stuck in one fo those endless dialog box loops - it tells you something is wrong, when you click the OK box, it just pops up again - never letting you cancel. A Ctrl-Alt-Delete does nothing, and you cannot access the Start Menu. Basically, you're fucked.

So, I do the "hold down the power button" routine and manage to get the system to power off. Although powering your PC off in this manner was a common thing with previous versions of Windows (in fact, it was an everyday thing with Windows 98); however, Windows XP typically does not like this.

So, I power the brand new laptop back on. Windows XP blue screens (as expected). The blue screen eventually goes away and notifies me that SP2 did not successfully complete. No shit. After 5 minutes of sitting there Windows XP miraculously appears on the screen!

Score: -1 for Microsoft
  • +1 for recovering
Hah! I got my Windows XP install back! Yes! I am rejoicing...but not for long. Once Windows XP has completely recovered, another dialog box pops up telling me that Windows XP SP2 failed to install. Please remove it from Add/Remove Programs before I do anything else. It also warns that the system is in an extremely unstable condition.

Score: 0 for Microsoft
  • +1 for telling me very useful information (a.k.a. uninstlal from Add/Remove Programs)
So, I head on over to the Add/Remove programs area and begin to uninstall SP2. Very cool. The Windows XP Service Pack 2 Removal Wizard pops up. There are 5 easy steps:
  1. Updating registry
  2. Running Processes After Uninstall
  3. Performing Cleanup
  4. Starting Service
  5. Something else...can't remember
Things are going good...until I get to step #3. Two innocent looking dialog boxes appear on my screen. The first warns that uninstalling SP2 *may* cause the following programs to stop functioning. Following the warning is a list of EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM installed...all the way down to Paint and Free Cell. The second dialog window warns me of all the hardware devices that *may* stop functioning if I uninstall SP2. Following this dialog box is a list of EVERY SINGLE HARDWARE DEVICE that I have installed...all the way down to my processor and LCD display.

Shit, what should I do? Continue and risk destroying the installation or canceling it and risk remaining in this "unstable" environment of Windows.

Score: -2 for Microsoft
  • -1 for telling me I may destroy all functionality of software on my PC (including my beloved Paint and Freecell)
  • -1 for telling me I may cause all hardware to stop working (including my processor and display)
So, I decide to take the risk...after another 15 miuntes of "uninstallation" and "registry reversal", I'm presented with the following message:

"Service Pack 2 has been successfully removed. You must restart your computer to complete the uninstall. To restart your computer, click Finish."

I hold my breath and click on Finish...wait! I can't move my mouse! What!?!?!? Well, I guess they really mean that hardware will stop working. Luckily, my display and processor seem to have survived...or else my new laptop may have blown up.

Using a quick slight of hand keyboard trick to navigate Windows' GUI interface, I managed to depress the Finish key.

Score: -3 for Microsoft
  • -1 for disabling my mouse - how would my mother figure this out!?!?
Windows does in fact shutdown by itself and reboots. Well, at least reboots into an entirely black screen. After another abnormal boot-up time, I get back to my XP desktop. It appears that all my custom drivers I installed before were now gone - mainly, I'm back to retard vision (640x480).

Something surprising then happens, XP begins to reinstall all of my hardware - apparently my drivers weren't gone - they have just be stored away. After 5 minutes of my laptop doing that damn XP beeping noise (yeah the one it makes when you plug something into the USB port), it tells me that it's finished installing all of my hardware and it needs to reboot again. So, I grab my mouse - and yes, it works, so I'm able to move the mouse over the "Yes, reboot now" key and depress it. Windows reboots.

Score: -2 for Microsoft
  • +1 for reinstalling all my hardware w/o any CDs!
OK, it rebooted great, so I head on over to my Device Manager to double-check. Everything is working great, except for the yellow ! next to Microsoft System Management BIOS Driver. This sounds bad, but despite this, maybe SP2 will fix it?

So, now I'm browsing back to google groups in order to get he stupid dll fix - let's hope it works. I ran the DartFix.bat and it did fix my dll issue by copying the dart dll into dart32. Let's see if SP2 works now.

I surf back out to Windows Update to get my SP2 again. Cool beans for Microsoft - because of the new BITS software, I do not need to download the 100+ MB service pack, instead, I dive right into the reinstall!

Score: -1 for Microsoft
  • +1 for not downloading the HUGE service pack again
In the end, the install went ok and Service Pack 2 did in fact fix the device driver issue with the Microsoft BIOS thingy. Well, looks like I'm back on track!

Ending score for Microsoft is -1. The lesson learned: SP2 is kind of like the Kerry Campaign slogan: more of the same.


  • i installed it on my desktop weeks ago with no problems...

    +1 Desktop
    -1 Laptop

    By Blogger Matt, At 10/12/2004 1:03 PM  

  • Yeah, I've installed on several brand spanking new laptops - even identical ones to this laptop. Truth be told - XP doesn't knwo what the hell is going on still.

    By Blogger Mike, At 10/14/2004 4:27 PM  

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