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Windows XP Service Pack 2: Install With Care
CRN ^ | Jul. 23, 2004 | Frank J. Ohlhorst and Vincent A. Randazzese

Posted on 08/12/2004 9:46:18 PM PDT by LTCJ

Windows XP Service Pack 2: Install With Care

By Frank J. Ohlhorst and Vincent A. Randazzese, CRN
9:00 AM EDT Fri. Jul. 23, 2004

The real surprise with Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 isn't potential compatibility issues, but the mayhem that can occur when SP2 is downloaded onto a system.

CRN Test Center engineers evaluated a release candidate two (RC2) version of SP2, and upon completion of the install on three out of five systems, the machines blue-screened. A message stated that "winserv" was missing. The blue screen occurred on both Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel platforms, and all systems were running Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 1 installed. Every possible avenue to get back into Windows failed.

To remedy the problem, CRN Test Center engineers reached out to Microsoft. The company provided instructions on how to work around the blue screen and uninstall SP2, but it didn't answer questions on what causes the blue screen or the specific systems that may be affected. Microsoft recommended using the Windows XP recovery console to boot the system and then accessing the "%windir%\$NtServicePackUninstall$\spuninst" folder.

Once in the folder, engineers had to rename "spuninst.txt" to "spuninst.bat" and execute the batch command "batch spuninst.bat." When that process was completed, a rollback of the Service Pack file should have occurred. That didn't happen. So the batch file had to be executed a second time, and then access to Windows XP was restored--but with some caveats. Once back in the Windows operating system, Test Center engineers had to open the registry and set "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\RpcSs\ObjectName" to "LocalSystem." Next, engineers executed the "windir%\$NtServicePackUninstall$\spuninst\spuninst.exe," which prompted additional rollback changes to the registry.

After that process finished, some interesting events occurred. The rollback process uninstalled every device that existed in the PC. Network cards, video cards and all system resources were uninstalled. The PC was able to recover all of the uninstalled items, except one, upon a reboot. The graphics card, the Matrox Millennium P650, couldn't be recovered. Engineers tried to reinstall the drivers but, oddly enough, the Matrox folder was erased from the system and unable to be recovered. The only way to correct the problem was to go to Matrox's Web site and download the drivers from the support page.

The rollback also removed SP1; absolutely no remnants of SP1 existed anywhere in the system. To verify that problem, CRN Test Center engineers went to the Windows update page, and SP1 existed as a critical update, which needed to be installed again.

Before applying Service Pack 2, make sure a full backup of the PC is implemented. Imaging software, such as Symantec Ghost or Acronis True Image Backup, probably offers the best defense against problems caused by ill-behaved patches.

Microsoft's objective with Windows XP SP2 is to make it easier for end users to configure and manage security resources via new functionality and stronger security settings. Microsoft hopes the new settings will translate into safer Web browsing and improved security infrastructure for both businesses and individuals.

The smoke around the campfire, though, is that SP2 will wreak havoc on many security and firewall software utilities, forcing a redesign of antivirus suites, e-mail clients and firewalls. Test Center engineers installed SP2 on systems with utilities including Panda Software, Trend Micro, Symantec and Avast antivirus software, and all worked seamlessly. Symantec recently claimed that folks who download SP2 will need a Norton patch to co-exist with SP2. Yet Test Center engineers found that not be the case.

The functionality that SP2 brings to the table may make many third-party security utilities--such as popup blockers and software firewalls--obsolete. That functionality may push many security ISVs to rethink their marketing strategies.

TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: bluescreenofdeath; dell; lowqualitycrap; microsoft; servicepack2; sp2; windows; xp; xphomeedition
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This article is almost two and a half weeks old. While the situation described isn't exactly what I experienced, it was close enough to be the final nail in the coffin. I wish I had seen it before trying to update my daughter's Dell desktop before she heads back to college tomorrow morning.

In trying to get my daughter's system somewhat inocculated against what is sure to be an onslot of malware through her dorm's intranet hookup, I attempted to install the newly released XP SP2 tonight. I felt farely confident after having applied the service pack to my own XP Pro installation first. That system at least booted up after the upgrade. Not so for her hapless system.

After the automatic system backup for uninstall purposes (all is right with the world - what? me worry?) and the obligatory "you must reboot" message, the system came up with the nostalgic Blue Screen of Death:

STOP: c000021a {Fatal System Error}
The Windows Logon Process system process terminated with a status of 0xc0000005 {0x00000000 0x00000000}.
The system has been shut down.

After a few hours of searching, monkeying around with the recovery console, and genrally uncharitable thoughts about Washington state in general, I came across the above article.

Bless her heart, my daughter takes the whole thing philosophically and doesn't seem to mind a total nuk'ing & reinstalltion of her system/files. I'd much prefer nuking Microsoft but, in the interest of time, we'll have to go her way. This time.

So, gentle reader, I wish you better fortune than I had - but forewarned is forearmed. SP2 doesn't appear to be completely ready for Prime Time, unless you're a project manager for M$.

A pox on their house.

1 posted on 08/12/2004 9:46:24 PM PDT by LTCJ
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Did you load the entire thing, or allow MS to do it through the upgrade site that only loads selected portions of the patch after reading the system?

2 posted on 08/12/2004 9:50:31 PM PDT by Cold Heat (
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I am not upgrading, ever!!

3 posted on 08/12/2004 9:51:00 PM PDT by GeronL (KERRY: "I went to Cambodia with the CIA and all I got was a hat")
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Installed SP2 RTM on four computers since it was released and all the installations went perfectly. And I'm not "a project manager for M$."

Installing beta releases, as the authors of this article did, is always risky, but to tag the final release of SP2 with anecdotal FUD isn't appropriate.

4 posted on 08/12/2004 9:52:30 PM PDT by Leroy S. Mort
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I've been around long enough to know to never to apply a Service Pack on day 1. Experience earned the hard way. Anybody remember the exciting "Doublespace" fun with DOS 5.

5 posted on 08/12/2004 9:52:44 PM PDT by Arkinsaw
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Never install beta software unless you want to be a guinea pig for Microsoft. The final release of Service Pack 2 should be free of the aforementioned problems.

6 posted on 08/12/2004 9:55:16 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: LTCJ; Cold Heat

How did you get the update, since I just went to windows update and XP sp2 was not offered to me?

This crap from MS is bad, because it makes people reluctant to update their systems, meanwhile the internet is overrun with messages from home pcs that have been highjacked.

Looking over the stuff that sp2 "fixed" though, I think that as long as you are a sensible person, and have a firewall like zonealarm (that shows outgoing requests, as well as protects from incoming), use a browser that is not MS, and don't download crap from websites that you don't know, then you should be allset.

Just my opinon anyway.

Yeah the antivirus stuff is iffy in my opinion, as long as you don't open e-mail attachments and have a good firewall/secure browser, there isn't really anway to get a virus.

7 posted on 08/12/2004 9:57:25 PM PDT by NotQuiteCricket (XP SP2 a.k.a. "Hi-Tech Scythe of Death")
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To: NotQuiteCricket
Well, if all you use a PC for is web browsing and email, then it would be better to build a Linux machine.

Unfortunately, most games require the MS operating system.

8 posted on 08/12/2004 9:59:34 PM PDT by xrp
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Two SP2 installations on Dell machines with nary a hitch. Perhaps I am lucky.

I used the early release version designed for network deployment.

Backing up files before any upgrade, and as a matter or routine regardless is a good idea.

o conflicts with Norton CE 7.61, but the MS security center feature lists the AV functioning status as "unknown". Big deal, it is there and working.

9 posted on 08/12/2004 10:03:59 PM PDT by M1911A1
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To: NotQuiteCricket
SP2 will be available through automatic updates next week and through windows update in two weeks. You can download it now here
10 posted on 08/12/2004 10:04:21 PM PDT by dangermouse
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To: PAR35; martin_fierro; ShadowAce; chainsaw; Chewbacca; goodnesswins; edchambers; Quix; BadAndy; ...

SP2 casulty Ping.

11 posted on 08/12/2004 10:05:30 PM PDT by LTCJ (God Save the Constitution.)
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12 posted on 08/12/2004 10:05:31 PM PDT by dalebert
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Bookmarking for later....

13 posted on 08/12/2004 10:05:48 PM PDT by Watery Tart (I can't imagine that al-Qaida is going to be impressed by sensitivity." ~~LYNNE Cheney)
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"Release Candidate" means having the users debug your product.

I downloaded the 272MB version and I've installed it on 5 computers of varying types with no problems whatsoever.

The firewall is easy to disable if you don't need it and the pop-up blocker in IE means I don't need Google's toolbar anymore.

I had been using Mozilla Firefox but I didn't like some of the bugs. It wouldn't return to the same part of a page when you hit the back button and it wouldn't show followed links by changing their color. VERY annoying for eBay users like me.

I'll just wait for IE7 to get tabbed windows.

14 posted on 08/12/2004 10:07:08 PM PDT by Honcho Bongs
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To: NotQuiteCricket
I like most MS products. I have had the usual amount of problems with XP as I have all the others, but XP has been very stable in comparison.

The SP-1 pack had compatibility issues with things like A/V progs and the like and was improved over time.

I expect the SP-2 to be the same way.

I posed the question about waiting for the download via the automated system, because MS has warned users about downloading the BETA. They know it will have some issues, not with their programs, but with other vendors stuff.

My point is, why blame MS. They cannot possibly foresee all the different hardware and software issues that mat result from any upgrade or patch. It is impossible to know what combination of stuff a user has unless the system is scanned. Laptops and home PCs have many variances, for example.

Best thing to do is to wait for MS to do it through the automated system. I have all of mine turned on and waiting.

15 posted on 08/12/2004 10:09:31 PM PDT by Cold Heat (
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To: Leroy S. Mort; goldstategop

The article was about a beta release. My experience was with the final full downloaded from their site and burned to CD. I installed it on two computers with 50% casualties.

16 posted on 08/12/2004 10:09:55 PM PDT by LTCJ (God Save the Constitution.)
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To: Cold Heat

See post 16.

17 posted on 08/12/2004 10:13:25 PM PDT by LTCJ (God Save the Constitution.)
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To: xrp

Yeah, one of these days I'm going to take a stab at some Linux distro.

I do more than internet & e-mail. I also use MS Office & other applications on a daily basis (any pda's synching w/ a linux box yet?).

And, I don't think a home user should be installing a service pack, until it is available from the site...if MS doesn't feel good enough about it to put it there, then I don't think "normal" people should be installing it.

18 posted on 08/12/2004 10:16:49 PM PDT by NotQuiteCricket (XP SP2 a.k.a. "Hi-Tech Scythe of Death")
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator


bookmark bump

20 posted on 08/12/2004 10:17:48 PM PDT by tophat9000
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