Sunday, January 13, 2008

Windows XP support declining?

I rebuilt one of my older machines today and fired it up to reinstall Windows XP on it. I need this machine because Epson, in their rather infinite non-wisdom, have chosen only to support up to Vista 32 for my Perfection 1250Photo scanner. How hard would it have been to build one more driver for my Vista 64 machine?

Anyway ... the XP install went fine ... this is an Asus A8V motherboard with an Athlon FX60 dual core chip and 3GB DDR400 RAM. Nice system and reasonably fast. Once the system was installed, I started poking around with drivers and had the Radeon install fail wildly, looking for various bits like the .NET Framework 2.0 and such. But the driver did not fail all that gracefully. Neither did the motherboard drivers work too well. After a couple more installs, the system would freeze within a minute of booting.

I had to reboot 4 times before I could get enough time to find the recovery wizard and go back to the initial configuration. Thank you Microsoft for adding this capability. The machine was perfectly stable after the reboot. But I had to start over ... first the wireless card with its security key, then on to SP2, which will make all those crappy install work far better.

But wait ... Windows Update has changed significantly .... they want you to download and join the Microsoft Update party, with which I was already familiar from my Vista 64 experience. Well, fine. Off I go again into this new world ... and BOOM! ... fatal error. Microsoft cannot find the site you wanted or some such.

Apparently, to get SP2 you need Microsoft Update (I tried several avenues to download a legit copy of SP2, but all roads led back to the failing Microsoft Update.) But, to get Microsoft Update to work, you need SP2. I confirmed this by installing a version of SP2 they had shipped to me a long time ago ... and Microsoft Update works perfectly now.

The reason why I had wanted the latest SP2 was that Microsoft have been known to slip stream updates into different versions of their distributables. I just wanted to save myself a few restart cycles by getting all the latest stuff now. Oh well ... it looks like the B team are in charge of the XP portion of the Microsoft Update world ... and they managed to avoid testing this obvious scenario. Perhaps I am wrong and there is another way to get SP2 if you don't have a version on CD. But be warned ... if you have a functioning PC right now, consider downloading and saving a copy of SP2 onto a CD just in case you need to rebuild in the future.

Your mileage may vary.

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