XP SP3 Triggering Endless Reboot Headaches


In a Thursday blog post, Jesper Johansson, a former senior security strategist at Microsoft and current Microsoft MVP, says the problem stems from the intelppm.sys driver that HP and other OEMs include in the image for both Intel and AMD-based machines.

The driver, which handles power management on Intel-based PCs, causes problems on AMD-based machines on the first reboot after installing XP SP3, according to Johansson.

"The computer either fails to boot, as in my case, or crashes with a STOP error code of 0x0000007e. It will boot into safe mode because the drivers are disabled there," Johansson wrote.

To fix the problem, users should hit the F8 key during restart when the black Windows XP screen comes up, and once in safe mode, choose the "Disable automatic restart on system failure" option, Johansson wrote.

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Microsoft, which released XP SP3 to the public earlier this week through Windows Update and the Download Center, couldn't be reached for comment. HP and AMD also couldn't be reached for comment.

However, fault seems to lie with the OEM that deploys the image, as Microsoft has published a Knowledge Base article that says installing both drivers on the same computer is an unsupported configuration, noted Johansson.

Unsurprisingly, many XP users have expressed their frustrations publicly in Microsoft XP forums. "I cannot get into any version of 'Safe Mode' and the system recovery disk promises to wipe out all data. I even put in an install CD to see if it would go to 'Repair.' No such luck," wrote poster Rick31.

Johansson also identified a separate reboot issue that also affects only AMD computers. During reboot, a message appears informing the user that a problem has been found and Windows will need to reboot, followed by the error code "STOP: 0x000000A5."

Johansson said he's not aware of what causes the problem, but users can work around it by plugging in a USB drive or other storage device before rebooting.

STOP errors are common occurrences with Microsoft service packs, and the default settings in XP are what causes PCs to endlessly reboot, Johansson said.

However, Vista has also been struck by an endless reboot bug. In February, Microsoft halted distribution of a prerequisite update for Vista SP1 after users complained that their PCs were entering an endless reboot loop during the installation process.