Operating Systems

XP Update Ushers In Fresh Round of Bugaboos

Shortly following Microsoft’s release of the third service pack for its Windows XP operating system, reports of problems regarding the SP’s installation began appearing on blogs and the Windows XP Newsgroup.

XP users have experienced an assortment of issues both with the installation itself and after the installation, ranging from failed and frozen installations to failure of external disks, wireless networking problems and repeated reboots following the update.

Microsoft is aware of the issues and is investigating them further, it said.

Long Road to SP3

Originally scheduled for release in the summer of 2006, Microsoft put the service pack on the back burner as it worked to finalize and release XP’s successor, Windows Vista. A planned rollout in the second half of 2007 was moved to late April 2008.

However, on April 29, the day the update was to hit Microsoft’s Download Center site, the software maker announced a glitch with its Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System. That led to a week-long delay until the update became available last week.

Tripped Up

“I installed SP3 this morning, but when rebooting it loops between startup screen and restarting screen. I can boot into safe mode. Is uninstalling XP service pack 3 the only resolution?” wrote a poster identified as “Dan” on the Microsoft Windows XP General Newsgroup.

Issues surrounding installation tripped up Rocketeer, another poster. “I’ve tried installing SP3 via the Windows Update site, but it keeps stopping with an error message of ‘cannot copy msdaremr.dll.’ Disabling Norton AntiVirus 2007 makes no difference,” Rocketeer wrote.

Users reporting problems after the initial release of a major software update are not unusual.

“You generally do see a lot of these initial complaints when the SP is first released. A lot of it is just sensationalized; naturally a few people will have issues but you never hear about the vast majority that don’t,” said Gary Chen, an analyst with Yankee Group.

However, he acknowledged, the service pack could have major issues. “But we’ll have to allow more time before making any conclusions.”

Test Labs

Though he has not experienced any problems after installing the update, Michael Cherry, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld that those most affected are early adopters.

“There’s always a chance that there will be some unforeseen problem that the manufacturer cannot test for,” he said.

Businesses will more than likely not be affected, according to Cherry.

“Most businesses are downloading it into a test lab. And in that test lab, they’ll take their standardized desktop and install and begin their own level of testing before they have everybody in the company install it,” he explained.

The people most affected are likely to be consumers who find out the download is available and decide to install it, along with early adopters who rush to get the latest software.

“It’s not set for automatic download yet, so people are requesting it,” Cherry added. “You have to think that ‘I can choose to be a little conservative and wait a bit.’ Or, ‘I can choose to be a pioneer.’ And you take your chances. You would do that with any new software or update when it changes major pieces of the code.”

Got a Problem?

Any customer who experiences a problem with the Windows XP SP3 installation should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, Microsoft said.

However, before beginning to install a major update, both Chen and Cherry recommend XP users back up their systems.

“You still want to make sure your system is backed up before you do these things. I did a complete system backup before I did it,” Cherry pointed out.

“Like any major update, you need to be able to roll back in case of problems. That means having a good backup. I recommend using a good drive imaging tool such as those from Symantec or Acronis,” Chen told TechNewsWorld.

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