Windows XP SP3 Update Gotchas

I took the plunge and updated my machine to Windows XP SP3 today, a good month after general release. I don’t like to install Microsoft software when it’s first released, because more often than not, there are too many unknown bugs and I like my workhorse machine to work well.

After installing SP3, everything (so far) seemed to work fine except that the monitor rotation feature of my ATI Radeon X300 stopped working, so I could no longer orient my monitor in a vertical position rather than the standard horizontal. I like vertical because it’s better for the office as more email headers and text info can be viewed on a single screen.

After tinkering around and getting new drivers from the Dell website (I have a Latitude D610), it still doesn’t work. I then do a bit of Googling and find Microsoft KB 947309 (euphemistically titled Some third-party programs may experience a change in functionality after you install Windows XP Service Pack 3), which explains that this feature requires an updated driver to work with SP3.

Dell’s newest driver didn’t work (go figure), so I tried the one from ATI. When I tried to install it, it said that I didn’t have any cards that were supported by the driver (which cannot be true). In the end I had to use XP’s manual driver update interface and use the “Have disk” button to force it to install drivers that it warned me would not be compatible. I chose the ATI Radeon X300/X550/X1050 Series driver that came with version 8.5 of the ATI Catalyst software.

That seemed to do the trick after a reboot, but it did leave me wondering how any Joe Average computer user is supposed to figure this out and why this kind of stuff needs to break with a service pack upgrade in the first place.

This is also precisely why I never let any of my friends do OS upgrades with Windows, because it’s less headache to start fresh and reinstall apps then it is to try to troubleshoot the shortcomings of Microsoft’s upgrade paths.

UPDATE: I had to revert back to SP2 and the old Dell drivers. More details later (and a fix).

This entry was posted in Microsoft and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Windows XP SP3 Update Gotchas

  1. Hi,

    > That seemed to do the trick after a reboot, but it did leave me wondering
    > how any Joe Average computer user is supposed to figure this out and
    > why this kind of stuff needs to break with a service pack upgrade in
    > the first place.

    I seriously doubt that Joe Average has a monitor configured for vertical display ๐Ÿ™‚

    Philip

  2. > I seriously doubt that Joe Average has a monitor configured for vertical display

    And why is that. you suppose? If stuff would just work some probably would.

    I haven’t ‘upgraded’ to SP3 yet. Having continually installed the patches and the patches for the patches since SP2 there’s almost no reason to. SP3 does not add any significant new functionality. Surprise.

    It does however make a lot of sense if you have to freshly install XP.

  3. DigDug says:

    XP is 8 years old now. Do we really need more articles about how its update model isn’t perfect? Maybe you should write another one about how Apple is forcing people to download Safari too. That’ll be sure to make headlines.

  4. Wolf says:

    Yeah, its kinda sucky that they only publish such a known issue as a “change in behavior” but I guess its accurate. As for having to force the driver to install. blame Dell there mostly. They seem to be notoriously slow in releasing driver packages based on the reference drivers from ATI/nVidia that actuallly include the device IDs for the mobile equivalent of the desktop devices. Sucks, but its really Dell’s responsibility to release an updated driver to make that process go smoother for users.

    @Marc Diethelm: Not all the updates included in a service pack are just roll-ups of previously released security/stability patches.

  5. Ali Ebrahim says:

    I couldn’t get things to work and have had to revert to SP2 and the old drivers. More on this later.

    @DigDug: Windows XP might be 8 years old, but SP3 is just a month old.

  6. @Wolf: Your point..?

    I did some research after SP3 appeared in the Updates. It is indeed mostly a roll-up of previous patches.
    I suppose it makes sense for them, to release this. It’s easier to support millions of 8 year old, arbitrarily patched XP installations if you can just require/assume SP3 for some of the future upgrades, probably the security-sensitive ones, say IE, MP. I assume that by now security has become a business-critical item on their priority list.
    Not so innovation.
    Maybe they’re focusing on invasion, it sounds similar and is much cheaper. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Pingback: inside aebrahim's head ยป ATI Mobility Radeon Drivers from Dell

  8. This is another wonderful instance of miserable support of existing hardware/software. My perfectly functional ATI (now AMD) Radeon 7500 driver rotated the desktop fine under SP2, but that functionality (which I often used when editing graphics) broke with SP3. Since everything worked perfectly on my system, and I didn’t want to pop HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS to update the O/S and hardware, I stayed with XP SP2, and upgraded it to SP3. Granted, it’s unreasonable to expect vendors to patch old software beyond a certain point, but with this problem, if it’s just a simple version-detection flaw in ATI/AMD’s drivers, I think they should patch them for this SP3 bug for all drivers that supported XP, if M$’s assertion that it’s a driver problem, not O/S or .NET bug. That’s just fair to end users, and if not, it’s a classic example of how the developers, perched on their bleeding-edge ivory tower, treat users contemptously that’ve supported them with purchases.

Leave a Reply