Reader Email: Issues with Windows XP SP2C, and InfoWorld’s ‘Save XP’ Campaign

The following is an excerpt from an email message sent to me by Dan McCoy, an SNB reader and VAR who configures and sells Windows XP PCs to businesses. The issue McCoy details is apparently localized to OEM Windows XP Pro SP2C CDs. But since Windows XP is due to stop being sold in the retail channel, OEM and possibly some other editions of Windows XP not generally available to the public will be the only ones sold after the end of this month.

Microsoft released a revision of Windows XP Service Pack 2 called Windows XP SP2C recently. The media for SP2C is not interchangeable with previous versions (SP2B, SP2, SP1, and XP original). You used to be able to take a PC that came with any Windows XP PC and use any of the same class (home or pro) media to do a fresh install and still use that code on the COA (certificate of authority) on the side of the case. Not any more. The codes that come with SP2C media only work with SP2C media and vice versa — forcing people to buy new copies of Windows XP in order to get the latest update.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that there are no distinguishing marks on the new OEM XP SP2C CD. As a system builder used to ripping open three or 30 packs of OEM media and just installing them, I missed the critical printed note with the new media informing me of the change in the first box of SP2C media I opened.

I did a network-based preinstall as I always do using an image built with Windows XP SP2B. I was building three machines for a guy. I happened to use my last SP2B product code on one of them and two new SP2C codes on the others. All went well until I tried to pre-activate the copies for my client. After reboot, the two machines with SP2C codes went into a lockout state telling me I must activate before continuing. The same thing I had done hundreds of times before no longer worked! So I called Microsoft and after an hour of useless blab, it was clear the support guy was totally clueless. I finally told him I had to go. Microsoft’s support never did figure it out. Finally, I happened to stumble across the note in the box informing me of the change. I wound up having to update the images on my server and, for that job, deploy two separate images instead of being able to use one and blow it across all three machines.

Dan McCoy
Micro Enterprises LLC
VAR/Technology Solutions Consultant
http://www.microent.net/

Note: I have not personally tested Dan McCoy’s information to verify it. I thought it more important to get the message out expediently to save other people frustration. Dan’s an expert in this area and a reliable source.

Save Windows XP
As long as we’re on this subject, I’d like to point out that the creative folks at InfoWorld have launched a campaign to Save XP from retail extinction. I was one of the earliest signers of the petition. I’m not sure it will do any good, but it can’t hurt.

8 Responses to “Reader Email: Issues with Windows XP SP2C, and InfoWorld’s ‘Save XP’ Campaign”

  1. xram Says:

    What a joke, Viva Linux and Apple!

  2. rickk1 Says:

    Sounds like something Microsoft would do. They really need the money. What a ripoff. Mac…here I come.

  3. ddmak Says:

    Sorry Scot, I have to disagree with you on this one. Probably the only time I have a different view point than you.
    I would not like to see WinXP to live on any longer.

  4. rickk1 Says:

    How does someone know if their system or a system they’re working on has the dreaded C version?

  5. Scot Says:

    Good question, rickk1. I would try system properties as a starting point. Since I don’t have this version of the OS (you would probably only get it by buying a new Windows XP PC), I can’t check for you.

  6. mccoyds Says:

    rickk1 – So far I have been unable to figure out how to tell from the installation or the media. The only way I know is to look at the COA sticker on your OEM computer. The newer ones are rectangular with rounded corners. You can probably assume you have that version CD also…

  7. Scot Says:

    All —

    I believe mccoyds is Dan McCoy, the reader who sent me the message that prompted this post.

    — Scot

  8. sudleyplace Says:

    Isn’t this a tempest in a teapot? SP3 is just around the corner — I’ve been running it for some weeks now. Go to Windows Update, “Change Settings”, check the box labeled “Show beta products …”, and click on “Apply changes now”. Then look for SP3 RC in the “Beta Software” category.

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