A fix for the annoying XP bug

So when my lovely wife was away visiting our friend Mickey this week, I took it upon myself to finally fix her laptop.  My willingness to do this had nothing whatsoever to do with the (barely) veiled threats she was issuing me if i did not fix it. 🙂

Like a good geek I decided to forego a call to HP tech support.  I always get so frustrated, explaining to them that I have tried this, and that, and the result will not change if I do it for a third time, with them on the phone.

So instead of foregoing a few hours of my life for them to conclude its a "motherboard issue" – like they know what a motherboard is.  I decided to try and get to the bottom of it myself.  I do wonder who first dreamed up of the motherboard issue cop out in the first place.  I can see the flow chart now. "If all else fails blame it on the motherboard, whatever that is".  Those silly people.

I spent a fair few hours looking into the services that kept failing and found no rhyme or reason as to what was causing the problem.  Basically, after boot up some services would fail, and then one of the "critical" services would fail forcing the pc into a forced reboot.  So I started to do some system restores to see if that would fix it.  The first system restore I tried failed halfway through (I think a forced reboot interrupted the process).  The second time I did it, I tried from within Safe mode.  Incidentally, any operating system that advertises "safe mode" as a feature should concern people.

This second restore worked, but the problem still was seen in some less critical services failing.  I spent a another hour googling, and eventually concluded there was a motherboard issue.

So what next?  Well, Microsoft and HP had sent me a copy of Vista Home Premium to upgrade this laptop, so before I broke out the soldering iron, I figured lets give it a shot.  The upgrade was typical for both HP and Microsoft in that it requires you to remove the Rescue Partition, and install a fresh copy of Vista.  That’s right, no "upgrade" mode is available.  However, the installer is a little smarter than the average bear in that rather than just renaming the Windows of the new installation as was the trend in XP, it creates a new folder called Windows.old, and moves the old Program Files, Documents and Settings, and Windows folder in there.  Yes folks, Bill figured out how to do this properly.

The installation went smoothly but it was inconvenient to have to install the apps I have for my wife by hand again, but hey.  So far the laptop has behaved very well.  As for my motherboard theory, I am sticking to it.  Before I could run the upgrade, HP had me flash the BIOS with a new version.  🙂

Well, my wife seems happy with me (for a change), and the laptop.  So all in all a good end to the story.  Of course, avid readers, I will report if the villain shows up again.

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