Windows XP SP3: Good for many but not for all

By Joel Shore, |  Business, Joel Shore, Microsoft

Last time, in my column titled "Updates to the left of me, downgrades to
the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you-know-who,"
we talked about the imminent arrival of Windows XP Service Pack 3. I wondered who would be more excited about it, people currently using XP SP2 or frustrated Vista users begging for a downgrade.

Today, we know one thing for certain: if your customers are running certain Hewlett-Packard PCs with an AMD processor, head for the hills. Or, at the very least, don't install the update. Too late? Bummer.

You'll recall that at the last moment, the Softies decided to hold off for a few days while they fixed a recently discovered incompatibility (that means "problem") with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).
The same issue applied to Vista SP1, which also was delayed.

That may have been fixed, but no doubt you've been reading about the problem (that means "incompatibility") with AMD on HP.

According to reports, some HP systems equipped with AMD's Athlon processor reboot endlessly, not a good thing. Some reports go on to say the problem is related to XP disk images made on an Intel-based system subsequently run on an AMD machine.

This isn't the right time to point any fingers toward the Pacific Northwest. But this is the time to get the information you need to either avoid the problem in the first place, or address it if you've started receiving phone calls from unhappy customers. Thus, I'll be brief.

The information nexus for the woes is turning out to be the blog of Jesper Johansson, a former Microsoft security guru and current Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). His first piece of advice is to stay calm and not overreact by reformatting and reinstalling everything. The blog is quite lengthy and discusses a conflict between intelppm.sys, used for power management on Intel-based systems, and amdk8.sys, the AMD equivalent.

There's this nugget from Johansson: "Ordinarily, having intelppm.sys running on an AMD-based computer appears to cause no problems. However, on the first reboot after a service pack installation, … the computer either fails to boot … or crashes with a STOP error code of 0x0000007e." I suggest you read the blog for details; there are links to many other resources.

Microsoft TechNet has a discussion forum where the issue is being discussed.

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