BOOT CAMP 360 (18/01/05)



It is now a little over four months since Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Windows XP. Contrary to many expectations -- mine included -- the rollout has gone remarkably smoothly, considering the size and nature of the upgrade, which represents a major revision of the XP operating system on more than 100 million computers worldwide.


Estimates vary but it appears that between 80 and 90 percent of SP2 installations went without a hitch. In fact most problems were relatively minor in nature and mainly concerned email, Internet and firewall settings or printer glitches. Nevertheless for those affected it could be very annoying so this week we’ll be looking at the most frequently asked questions and glitches and next week in part two we’ll delve into some of the trickier problems experienced by Connected readers.


However, it’s worth returning to my initial advice in Boot Camp 339, about waiting to install SP2 until after the dust had settled. Now it has and on balance SP2 is turning out to be worthwhile upgrade, though if your PC uses a recent Pentium 4 or Celeron processor you should definitely hold off until after reading part 2 next week.


Otherwise most SP2 problems have been ironed out so there are no compelling reasons to hold off any longer. However, before doing so my advice is to first make sure that all of your backups are up to date and run both AdAware and Spybot cleaner utilities. You should also visit the Help and Support sections of the manufacturer’s web sites for your printer and scanner (HP and Epson models in particular), CD/DVD writer, any USB devices, (especially mice and keyboards), and anti-virus and Firewall software, to check for known issues, and download any patches or upgrades that may be required for SP2.


Microsoft has prepared a list of programs that are known to react unfavourably to SP2, along with solutions and links to manufacturers, and this can be found at:, there’s also more general information at:


A lot of readers have asked whether it is necessary to download previous service packs and upgrades before installing SP2. The answer is no, before SP2 loads a check is carried out on the PC and all necessary components are automatically installed. The size of the SP2 download, which can be over 200Mb, concerns many readers, especially those with dial-up connections. The answer is to get hold of a copy of SP2 on disc. It’s free and can be obtained from branches of PC Word or ordered direct from Microsoft at:


After SP2 is installed quite a few users find that they are unable to open email attachments in Outlook Express. This is a security feature, designed to prevent virus infection and it is easily remedied by going to Tools > Options, select the Security tab and uncheck  'Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened…’ Click OK and all future and previously blocked attachments can now be opened as normal. This procedure may also help if you find that clicking on links in email messages no longer open web pages in Internet Explorer, however there are other reasons for this behaviour and you might find the cure at:


Still with Outlook Express, several readers have reported SP2 that images, which are normally displayed in email messages, are replaced with a blank box or a red x ‘placeholder’ and there’s a message saying ‘Some pictures have been blocked….’.  It’s another security tweak and to get things back to normal go to Tools > Options, select the Security tab again and uncheck ‘Block images and other external content in HTML email’.


Another frequent question concerns the use of the SP2 upgraded XP Firewall when you already have a decent Firewall program on your PC. Although it doesn’t seem to matter my advice is to switch the XP Firewall off from the Windows Security Centre (double-click the small shield shaped icon that appears in the System Tray, next to the clock).


Whilst the XP built-in Firewall is better than nothing it doesn’t stop software installed on your PC from making use of your Internet connection. This includes legitimate applications seeking updates and, more worryingly, ‘malware’ programs, premium rate diallers and other nasties. Most commercial Firewalls have this facility so it is better to let them handle Internet access and you can decide which programs to allow on a case-by-case basis. If you are using Firewall programs like Zone Alarm and Norton/Symantec Firewall check that you have the latest release and any recent updates as older versions can conflict with SP2.


Finally, loss of Internet and email connection after installing SP2 is almost always due to Firewall settings and occasionally to a previously unrecognised malware infection that has triggered one of SP2s security features. You should be able to confirm this diagnosis by switching off the XP firewall and any other software you might be using from the icons in the System Tray. When your connection has been re-established you can visit the manufacturer’s web site to seek a fix or contact the Support department. Otherwise run a complete check with AdAware and Spybot.


Next week – Service Pack 2 revisited, part 2





Hypertext Markup Language



Malicious or intrusive software, (aka spyware, adware, trojans, premium rate diallers etc.) often inadvertently downloaded from websites, that make adverts appear, track your on-line activities or send private and personal information from your PC.



Small square icon with a red x that Windows and other applications use to show the position of an image or picture which for one reason or another it is unable to display




If you cannot get SP2 to load properly or you can’t resolve your problems by any other means then the first thing to uninstall SP2. Normally this is quite straightforward from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, it should be listed under Windows XP Updates (make sure the ‘Show Updates’ box is ticked at the top of the page). However, in some cases this may not be displayed and there’s a selection of alternative methods involving the use of a hidden Service Pack uninstaller, System Restore and the XP Recovery Console at:


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