As new service packs often tend to do, Windows XP Service Pack 3 caused problems for some early adopters when it came out earlier this month. We reported last Friday that users had witnessed all kinds of problems, from crashes to reboot loops, and that software and driver conflicts could be to blame.
In a post on his personal blog, Microsoft Windows Security MVP Jesper Johansson has shed some light on several of the culprits for the SP3 install hiccups. According to Johansson, who ran into problems on his own PC, the "endless reboot" problem seems to mainly affect HP z-series computers with AMD processors. The reason? An apparently simple oversight: HP uses the same operating system image on its AMD and Intel machines.
That OS image includes an intelppm.sys Intel processor power management driver. Having the file installed on an AMD PC normally doesn't do any harm, but Johansson says that's not the case on the first reboot after a service pack installation. "The computer either fails to boot, as in my case, or crashes with a STOP error code of 0x0000007e. If you see that error code you almost certainly have this problem," he explains.
Good news for folks running into the issue, though. Johansson provides simple instructions for disabling the Intel processor driver and sidestepping the problem on AMD-powered machines:
Boot into Safe Mode by hitting the F8 key as above, but select Safe Mode instead. You will need your Administrator account to log on in safe mode. To disable the driver, take the following steps:
If you booted into the recovery console, from a command prompt, run "disable intelppm"
If you booted into safe mode you can run "sc config intelppm start= disabled"
Johansson mentions another problem, which this time causes a "STOP: 0x000000A5" error and tells the user, "The BIOS in this system is not fully ACPI compliant." This issue reportedly affects only custom-built AMD systems, and it may be tied to Asus' A8N32-SLI Deluxe. Johnasson says he doesn't know the details, but he adds that the fix is quite simple: "insert a USB flash drive, or some other form of secondary storage mechanism, before booting the computer. The people have that have seen this problem report that it goes away when they do."
The remainder of Johansson's blog post details other, apparently less common errors and includes tips for how to fix them. In most cases, he claims post-SP3-install STOP errors could be due to anything from malware and corrupt data to bad hardware.