SP3 - Is it really that bad or just all hype?

With nearly 200 computers in the library system, it is not uncommon for the I/T Dept. to be forced to reinstall the Windows operating system for computers here and there. As a matter of fact, it's a day-long process and although it's time-consuming, it's usually a no-brainer until....

Microsoft makes an "improvement" that they to call "Windows updates". When they do that, it makes reinstalling the operating system downight frustrating. Nearly a year and a half ago, they released a major update called "Service Pack 3" for the Microsoft XP Professional OS.

Now, if you don't know by now, you can't buy a computer with Windows XP anymore. I think Microsoft stop selling those back in the summer of 2007. That means if you go to the store (or online) and buy a computer, you are stuck with purchasing Microsoft's latest OS, Windows Vista.

(As an FYI, there were two different versions of XP: Home and Professional. While there are four different versions of Vista: Home, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate).

However, right before they stop selling and providing support for XP machines, they can out with SP3. Now, I am not a Microsoft hater, just a "consumer watchdog". I use Microsoft products everyday both here at work and at home. (This is a good place to sigh.) The problem with Microsoft choosing to release an update like this is that if it has "bugs" then they don't necessarily "have-to" fix those bugs and that leaves us with computer "that aren't acting right" (as my grandmother would say). That also means that if you are not a technie, then you will probably take your computer to somewhere like Best Buy. If that doesn't work, you get frustated and buy a new computer (as my grandmother would do). I think you see the benefit for Microsoft here, don't you? I know far too many people who have made Microsoft rich off of the number of computers that they have bought throughout the years (just ask my grandmother) but that's for another blog posting......

Soon after SP3 came out, I probably reinstalled Windows on 5-8 library computers and each one of them crashed soon after SP3 was installed it. As I backtrack my thinking to try and figure out what was different this time as opposed to all of the other times that I had reinstalled Windows, I realized that it was SP3, which took nearly an hour by itself to install. That made the whole Windows reinstallation process now - a day and a hour. :-) Unfortunately, I had to reinstall the OS on each of these computers at least once more leaving SP3 out of the picture and all has been well since. (Even Best Buy doesn't install SP3.) Just a few weeks ago, I was "checking up" on one of pre-SP3 computers and have since found SP3 did installed itself (if you have automatic updates turned on) and strangely enough it hasn't crashed - yet!!!!

So, if you have a XP Professional on your home (or small business computer) and it begins to act strange after installing Windows updates, you might want to check Add/Remove Programs to see if SP3 is installed. Even though some in the "tech world" have said that Microsoft has made "the appropriate improvement to SP3 to prevent problems", I still don't trust it and a year and a half later, I still do not install it on any of the library's Windows computer. Hopefully, you won't find yourself having to reinstall Windows because of SP3.

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