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Former Microsoft manager offers free fix for XP SP3 'endless reboot'

Jesper Johansson provides tiny tool to fix AMD-based PCs

May 15, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A former Microsoft Corp. security manager has published a tool designed to detect and fix PCs that may be susceptible to "endless reboots" if updated to Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3).

Jesper Johansson, once a program manager for security policy at Microsoft and currently an MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) who works at Amazon.com, posted a link to the tool on his blog yesterday, beating his former employer and Hewlett-Packard Co. to the draw. Neither company has yet come up with a fix or patch for the weeklong snafu.

Johansson's small, 16K VBScript (Visual Basic Scripting Edition) file checks whether the PC is running a processor from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), and if so, examines the Windows registry to see if a device driver meant for Intel-based machines is set to load.

"If it is, it will offer you an option to disable it," said Johansson in an update to a blog post where he has been summarizing reports of Windows XP SP3 problems and offering solutions.

Users can run the script from the command line to check multiple machines on a network, Johansson added. The command is:

removeIntelPPMonAMD.vbs ...

"The only caveat is that the tool will prompt you several times for each computer," Johansson added.

The free-of-charge VBScript file is available for download.

The tool is the latest in the weeklong problem some users have encountered after upgrading Windows XP to the new service pack. Last week, just a day after Microsoft added XP SP3 to Windows Update, reports accumulated of "endless reboots" crippling machines running AMD CPUs. Many of the users said that the out-of-control PCs were from HP.

According to users, Johansson and most recently, Microsoft itself, the problem can be traced to the disk image that HP used to factory-install Windows XP on AMD-based machines. HP, said everyone concerned, used an image created on an Intel-powered PC to install XP on AMD systems; Microsoft had advised computer makers against doing that as long ago as 2004.

Microsoft has generally taken a dim view of unsanctioned, unofficial fixes to its software. A spokesperson today said: "Regarding the endless reboot, customers who experience a problem with Windows XP SP3 installation should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services. They should not attempt to alter registry settings without technical assistance."

Read more about Windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.



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