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Ex-Microsoft Employee Takes Lead on XP SP3 Reboot Problem, Offers Free Fix

A former Microsoft employee appears to be coming to the rescue of those suffering from the XP SP3 endless reboot cycle that can happen on computers with AMD processors -- a problem for which Microsoft has yet to announce a solution.

As first noted by Computerworld, on Wednesday author and Microsoft MVP Jesper Johansson -- who until 2006 was a senior security strategist at Microsoft -- released a home-spun tool that automatically checks for a configuration error that may be the cause of the reboot problem.

"If you have an AMD-based computer, and all you want to do is prevent the problem before installing Service Pack 3, then try the new tool I just wrote," he stated in this blog post yesterday. "It will first check whether you have an AMD-based computer. If you do it will check whether the IntelPPM driver is set to load. If it is it will offer you an option to disable it." Johansson also offers instructions for using the tool on multiple computers simultaneously.

Johansson started blogging about the endless reboot issue last week when he encountered it, and has been sharing his troubleshooting process on his blog since then. In the absence of extended technical information on the issue from Microsoft, his extremely detailed post is quickly becoming the definitive technical source for both IT professionals and end users looking for a possible work-around.

Johansson states that the reboot issue appears to be happening on both Intel-based and AMD-based machines and can be caused by a number of factors. While the errors that start the reboot process appear to relate to XP SP3, the effect -- endless reboots -- ties back to how Windows XP itself was designed to react to crashes.

"With some configurations, SP3 causes the computer to crash during boot, and Windows XP, by default, is set up to automatically reboot when it crashes," he explained in his post. "That is why you end up in the endless rebooting scenario."

Johansson hypothesized -- and Microsoft has since echoed -- that many of the errors are being caused by OEMs installing the wrong operating system image on certain desktops.

"The problem is that HP, and possibly other OEMs, deploy the same image to Intel-based desktops that they do to AMD-based desktops," he wrote. "The image for both Intel and AMD is the same all have the intelppm.sys driver installed and running...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, it causes a big problem. 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."

HP is blaming the upgrade itself, saying that even if an OEM doesn't install intelppm.sys, XP SP3 does.

In his post, Johansson details how to manually disable the intelppm.sys driver on AMD PCs; the tool released Wednesday automates this process. The posts also offers other solutions if the tool doesn't work, and refers readers both to Microsoft's article on uninstalling XP SP3 and Microsoft technical support (currently free for XP SP3).

For much more information on this issue, read Johansson's post here.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the executive editor of the 1105 Redmond Media Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, RedDevNews.com and VisualStudioMagazine.com, among others.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, May 19, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

cool

Sun, May 18, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

cool

Thu, May 15, 2008 Diane Sequim, Washington

My computer totally crashed on Tuesday when I installed XP SP3 on my HP Media Center with AMD Athlon processor. I lost EVERYTHING - eight years of genealogy research records, photos, music, etc. I don't understand why Microsoft isn't preventing the SP3 from downloading onto computers with the AMD Athlon processor. I "chatted" with Microsoft tech support today and asked if Microsoft offers a software download to recover all those lost files. Unfortunately, they don't and I can't afford the two hundred bucks to pay for a software program that can retrieve my files. What a nightmare and here the consumer sits with no recourse!

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