Some XP SP3 Users Hit by Endless Reboot Problem
Microsoft is investigating the matter, but the bug seems to derive from bad installs by OEMs on AMD-based computers
An endless reboot problem associated with Windows service pack installations is back, but this time it is vexing some users who installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3). Moreover, the problem mostly affects PCs that use Advanced Micro Devices' (AMDs') central processing unit chipsets, reports suggest.
Microsoft officially is still investigating the issue, according to a spokesperson. However, the problem could stem from a software image installation error made by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The reboot issue also seems to be associated with HP-manufactured computers, although a few people with machines from other manufacturers have said they experienced the problem, according to a TechNet Web site.
Jesper Johannson, a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in Windows Security, cautioned in a blog that there may be other reasons why users applying this service pack may have the reboot problem. However, he described the OEM theory at some length.
"The problem is that HP, and possibly other OEMs, deploy the same image to Intel-based desktops that they do to AMD-based desktops. It also appears that this is unique to their desktop image, and any HP AMD-based laptops are unaffected by the problem. Because the image for both Intel and AMD is the same all have the intelppm.sys driver installed and running."
The intelppm.sys driver is used to control the PC's power management, but machines with AMD chipsets aren't supposed to use that driver. Instead the equivalent driver for AMD machines is called amdk8.sys.
Johannson points to a Microsoft knowledge base article, KB 888372, describing the solution. It was originally written to address the same problem for users upgrading to Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Johannson describes a fix that worked for him based on the OEM theory. He suggests other possibilities for the reboot problem as well, such as a particular motherboard, bad hardware, malware, corruption of the file system driver ntfs.sys and a faulty video driver.
However, a spokesperson for AMD confirmed the theory of OEM image installs being at fault, saying, "It's something that's resolved on the OEM side. This isn't from something that AMD delivered or did. We don't have any control over the issue."
The problem affects only a small number of PCs running Windows XP, the AMD spokesperson said, adding that Microsoft is working on a solution.
"Microsoft is currently putting in place a filter on Windows Update for Windows XP Service Pack 3 computers that will experience this issue," the AMD spokesperson said. "And there's also customer support they've set up to walk customers thorough any issues they may be experiencing."
The customer support for Windows XP SP3 users is free through April 14, 2009, and can be accessed here.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.