Thursday, August 19, 2004

Service Pack 2 Will Own You

I don't know how many of you use Windows XP, but I do. It's been the best of the Windows operating systems, in my opinion. I make this judgment solely on the basis that XP doesn't crash nearly as much as any of the other Windows OS's I've used in the past. Anyone remember Windows 98 before the SE edition? Damn, I couldn't keep my computer up longer than a day, and that was only if I decided to turn it on and leave it on without doing anything. Now we are on the verge of having another Windows 98 experience with the Service Pack 2 update for Windows XP. It seems like this update is going to break a load of programs that people use, so many so that Microsoft has even dedicated a page to documenting all of the programs they know will have problems. This list (found here) only documents the programs they know of. There could be even more they don't know about!

Looking over the list I found that on the computers we have in our house running XP, the following programs we use will be broken by the SP2 update:

* Photoshop Elements 2
* Nero Burning ROM 5.5.6
* Unreal II
* Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
* DivXPlayer 2.5.3
* Freedom Force
* Installshield (how the hell do you break Installshield????)
* Excel 2003
* Outlook 2003
* Word XP
* RealPlayer (free version) 10
* Style XP 2
* Eclipse 3

That's a total of 13 programs that we use in our household that will have something broken when SP2 is installed. There are a couple of things that really interest me about this list (and the entire list on MS's site). The first is Installshield.

As far as I know, almost every program (non-MS) that I buy or download uses Installshield for installation. This would seem to be a pretty important program for MS to NOT BREAK. The repercussions could be huge depending upon how broken this version of Installshield will be and how many programs use it as an install method. I use tons of freeware and it would really suck if I was no longer able to install them again because of this service pack.

I'm also a little miffed that, if Installshield is really broken, companies (corporate and open source) are going to have to patch their releases and/or modify their code to be compatible with this horribly cumbersome patch. I don't know, I just have a hard time thinking about many open source and freeware products having to retool their releases so that they continue to work with the majority of their user base. Hell, a lot of freeware I use is no longer supported so who will fix the problems if any arise?

Another "huh?" moment was had by myself as I saw how many MS products are broken by this patch. Word, Access, Excel, three different versions of Outlook, and many other MS products will all be affected. I know that the OS portion of the company and the Office portion are completely separate (so they say), but you'd think they'd at least try to work with each other to make sure the products that have been produced by one wing would be compatible with the upcoming patch from another wing. That would seem to make logical sense, but not to MS.

Lastly, and this could be a big one for where I work, is Eclipse 3. All of our Java development at work is done using Eclipse and all of the new laptops/workstations that we've ordered in the last couple years have XP on them. I can't imagine what will happen if we do a company wide installation of XP SP2 and then Eclipse totally breaks. We wouldn't be able to do anything. Either we'd have to undo the service pack, move to an older version of Eclipse, wait for a patch, or use a different development platform. Thankfully I still have Win2K on both of my work machines so none of this service pack crap will affect either one.

Not only will service pack 2 be a pain in the ass when it comes out, but I might not even have a working computer by the time it does. I've been trying to put back together my PC after blowing its motherboard and processor early in the summer. I ordered a new board and processor, but now when I turn it on, it only registers that I have 1024 KB of memory. This happens when I have my 256 MB DDR stick in as well as my 512 stick. They're both name brand, non-cheapo memory sticks (one being brand new and never used) so I'm not thinking it's incompatibility. I also know it's not incompatibility because when I make the motherboard do a memory check upon booting, it registers all my memory, yet when I reset the computer or restart it, it defaults to only finding 1024 KB.

I can't figure out what the hell the problem is and it's driving me insane. What has me even more worried is that I'm using the exact same model motherboard and processor to build a computer for a friend so I'm hoping that I can figure this crap out so I can have her computer built by the time she starts college. If anyone has any thoughts, please help.

No comments: