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Windows Operating Systems Software Microsoft Upgrades

Last-Minute Glitch Holds Up Windows XP SP3 162

An anonymous reader sends word that Microsoft Windows XP SP3, which had been scheduled to hit the Web today, was pulled back at the last minute. SP3 apparently broke a Microsoft application, Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System. Their solution is to set up a filter to make sure that no system running the affected software will get automatically updated; once the filter is in place, SP3 will be released to the Web. A fix for the incompatibility will follow.
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Last-Minute Glitch Holds Up Windows XP SP3

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  • Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:55PM (#23244032) Journal
    You'd think Microsoft would test Service Packs against all Microsoft products while the SPs are still in Alpha or Beta.
    • I'm not suprised (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:20PM (#23244436)
      Firstly, the type of organisation using retail management systems tend to be conservative and not bleeding edge because downtime costs money. They would not be playing with beta SP releases and would not be seeing problems.

      Secondly, Microsoft is not one monolithic entity, as many believe, but a group of different business units. The DRMS folk aren't going to drop their current activities to check whether a different business unit's updates work.

      Thirdly, so what! Why not ship it anyway with a release note saying "Don't use with DRMS!". SP2 broke some MS developer tools and that did not stop them shipping it. Some organisations had to wait months for updates before they could migrate to SP2.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

        Microsoft is not one monolithic entity, as many believe, but a group of different business units.
        At least that was the assertion by the Justice Department. I don't think MS sees it that way.
        • At least that was the assertion by the Justice Department.

          That raises an interesting question interesting.

          If SP3 breaks any software made by third parties, the companies with broken software will have to wear the costs and damage to reputation. MS won't hold up distribution of the SP for a competitor.

          Clearly, Microsoft has leveraged their monopoly OS position to give clear competitive advantage to one of their own products.

          Should the DoJ be interested?

      • Thirdly, so what! Why not ship it anyway with a release note saying "Don't use with DRMS!".
        Not much good if Automatic Update installs without asking first. I didn't even read TFA but its pretty clear from the summary that that is what is being addressed here.
    • * I don't work for or endorse MS products *

      While I agree this is difficult to accept from a consumer point of view, and traditionally it has appeared that Microsoft has not always tested products well before release. I can tell you from a testing point of view it is very difficult to do full regression test before release.

      Think about this from MS point of view. They have many applications in the market, on many, many different platforms with basically an uncountable number of configurations. To test every
      • Re:Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Romancer ( 19668 ) <romancer @ d e a t> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:34PM (#23244594) Journal
        That is what alpha and beta testing is supposed to address. It's not unreasonable to expect that during the beta testing of a piece of software that they would try and make sure it was compatable with at least the software packages they sell.

        And secondly, this is what happens when software isn't sectioned off from the os and contained with reasonable restrictions and documented APIs. This would be a really simple thing for them if they even stuck to their own standards. How would if break another application if they had communicated a set of standards to both departments on how to program properly. Or even built an OS that contained programs to a reasonable level and didn't always throw crap into the OS directory. /rant
        • Re:Curious (Score:5, Informative)

          by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @09:18PM (#23246922)

          Bah. "FUD," I think the word is.

          Or even built an OS that contained programs to a reasonable level and didn't always throw crap into the OS directory.

          I assume you're talking about DLL hell. This has been solved since at least XP - overwriting a file in a system directory will silently fail if it's being replaced with an older copy. So, replacing winsock.dll version 2.1 with a version 1.0 because you fail at writing an installer will no longer screw up your system.

          Think of Service Packs as analogous to kernel patches. Those have been known to screw up a few programs, haven't they?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JebusIsLord ( 566856 )
            Windows File Protection only protects a static list of files installed by Windows. To quote MS:

            "All SYS, DLL, EXE, and OCX files that ship on the Windows CD are protected. True Type fonts--Micross.ttf, Tahoma.ttf, and Tahomabd.ttf--are also protected."

            DLL hell still very much exists, as I fight with at work all the time doing application packaging. Typically things like incompatible crystal reports dlls are an issue. Typically and end-user will end up with d
          • No, he's talking about spewing everything into c:\windows\system32 instead of having programs be self-contained. There is some argument as to whether complete self-containment is good, though. Personally, I like the way linux does it (some containment, some shared, everything tracked by the package management system).

            The other thing that really annoys me is having user data written to the program directory. For crying out loud, no mainstream OS has been single user for at least 5 years. Every consumer progr
            • "spewing everything into c:\windows\system32 instead of having programs be self-contained. There is some argument as to whether complete self-containment is good, though."

              Personally, I think the main reason that Microsoft designed the whole registry + system32 shitfight is to make it harder for people to copy programs from one machine to another. I remember waaaay back in the day when it was possible to copy MS Office by zipping the program folder and copying it to another PC.

              Microsoft ramped up the complic
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        I could buy that excuse if this were a bug that only manifested in bizarre configurations. If this is simply a case of RMS failing to work on any XP SP3, then your excuse doesn't hold water.

        Of course, this doesn't even get into the fact that MS is using it's dominance in the OS market to give it an advantage in other markets... AGAIN. I sincerely doubt that MS would hold up a service pack release if I notified them that MY application would not run on their SP.
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Then how do you explain that they managed to figure it out before actually releasing the SP?

        What actually happened is that they announced before they were sure and then got a surprise. That's not a big deal in itself, it happens in business all the time.

        The only reason this is news at all is that it presents clear evidence that MS applications DO get special consideration and so any legal arguments that the OS and app divisions are somehow seperate (and so not leveraging their monopoly) are full of crap

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          The only reason this is news at all is that it presents clear evidence that MS applications DO get special consideration and so any legal arguments that the OS and app divisions are somehow seperate (and so not leveraging their monopoly) are full of crap.

          You are full of crap. Actually, you are crap. This glitch could have been found with any number of 3rd-party applications that MS tests their updates with. It just happens to be that it was an MS app. It in no way implies that 3rd-party applications were not tested. You are just so blinded by the crap covering your eyes that you have to lash out.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            oooooOOOOOOoooo, since you called me crap, I MUST be wrong.

            If I say George W. Bush is a doodie head does that mean he's not the president anymore :-)

    • I'm sure if they had the time, patience, and resources, they would. Microsoft is known primarily for Windows, Office, and Visual Studio, but they've got a shipyard's worth of individual programs and libraries, not to mention document templates and macros. Because some of their business customers don't bother to upgrade their software, they would have to toss in some older versions of Office and VS that are still at least in the maintenance phase. Testing the service pack against every possible combination o
  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:57PM (#23244074) Homepage
    It's a shame they don't have full access to all Microsoft products to test this long before the release date.
  • by annamadrigal ( 1134821 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:00PM (#23244128)
    Seriously, if Microsoft is prepared to hold up an update of this sort and then modify the procedure to kludge their way around the problem for their own software but would just release the patch if it was someone else's application, then this seems extremely dubious to my non-expert mind. After all, doesn't this give their applications the unusual, and unfair, advantage that they might work with Windows both before and after a major update?
    • by i.of.the.storm ( 907783 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @07:11PM (#23245744) Homepage
      Uh, they delayed the release of Vista SP1 for other companies' drivers to be updated, isn't that the same thing? Perhaps you should do some research before pulling the anticompetitive flag, it's in their best interests to make sure their own shit works properly, shit though it may be. (Note: That's not my opinion, but probably that of others here.)
      • I think one issue is that software that caused the delay does not have a large deployment. If the issue was with IIS or Active Directory, etc. that might be something else. But MS Dynamic Retail Managment Systems? I've never even heard of it before today. The article even mentioned that it is target to small and medium businesses but suggested that it isn't widely deployed.
      • they delayed the release of Vista SP1 for other companies' drivers to be updated, isn't that the same thing?
        Whether you realize it or not, drivers are considered by most non-technical users, the resposibility of the OS.

        How many crap "Linux sux because my modem doesn't work" do we see?

        It goes both ways an MS knows that.
        • Well, not many because I don't think many people are still using modems, although if they were they probably would be winmodems in which case we would see posts like that. But the same goes for wifi cards especially these days. And my point still stands, it's not anticompetitive, it's just in their best interests in either ways and doesn't cut off competition in any way as the OP insinuated.
  • As much as I hate to admit it, I actually believed those lying B*stards.

    Honestly who here (besides myself) did not see this coming?

  • According to a leaked recording from Microsoft's secret underground Quality Assurance Lair, the real reason was a bit more complicated. Here's a transcription from the files that I received:

    "Hey, guys! Why is this chair stuck inside SP3? How does this kind of stuff get in here anyway? We can't ship it like this!"

    This kind of thing happens more ofteh than you might think.

  • A Dynamics Feature! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DnemoniX ( 31461 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:01PM (#23244156)
    I work for an online retailer and one of my recent tasks was to evaluate Dynamics for potential use in house. The problem that we ran into was that the media that Microsoft sent us directly plain didn't work. We couldn't even get the package to install; hell we even read the manual. We tried it on XP, Server 2003, and 2008 beta. The installer walks you through all of the preinstall requirements and manages to explode every time. So are they sure SP3 dumping Dynamics isn't just a "feature"?

    We are looking at the Apache Open For Biz suite now instead and if that doesn't satisfy management they will go with SugarCRM.
    • dynamics what?
      microsoft has bought a lot of business software (navision, axapta, great plains etc) and calls them all dynamics. they are still extremly different under the hood.
    • We had the same problem. We are evaluating Microsoft Dynamics AX (or as I like to call it: the product which 'til recently was called Axapta)

      I installed the 2008 beta build, (handed to us by a big shot at Convergence) and although the install succeded, the "Object Server" seemed to run, but wouldn't actually do anything.
      • AX is insanely complex (and a 'black box', don't let the X++ fool you), its stability reminds me of Windows Me. It also makes DBAs cry.
      • When the same piece of media blows up on multiple platforms, then get another piece of media. Even though a lot of other posts also lead towards product instability, maybe in this case it was a bad bit.
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
      In case you thought it was your fault, don't worry about it. Dynamics is utter shit. I had a Dynamics GP installer - and her supervisor - monkey around with an install for the better part of the morning before getting it to work. It involved using an older version, upgrading, then installing a yet-unreleased patch and... URG. And there was a problem with the installer itself not working properly in 2k3, but it worked OK on XP, so... don't want to think about it!
  • well done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:01PM (#23244160) Homepage Journal
    they caught an error and patched it for everyone else while working on it.

    This can happen to any patch that rolls out. It's when it's not caught that we should complain.

    No, I am NOT an apologist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by machxor ( 1226486 )
      They didn't really patch anything. As anyone running Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System can still break things by installing XP SP3. As far as I can tell they are not changing the actual SP3 installer so that it will not install on a machine running Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System. Doesn't even sound like it will warn.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )
        The patched the installer to not run on MSDRMS.
        That's all I meant. And they did catch it.

        Interesting, I wonder if when Bill Gates hears the term DRM, he thinks people are talking about MSDRMS?
        That would explain a, maybe not.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by machxor ( 1226486 )
          But if you RTFA you'll see that they did not patch the installer. They "patched" Windows Update to not provide you with the installer for XP SP3 if it detects MS DRMS. There have been no changes that prevent a MS DRMS user from downloading the SP3 installer exe and running it. "To help protect our customers, we plan to put filtering in place shortly to prevent Windows Update from offering both service packs to systems running Microsoft Dynamics RMS. Once filtering is in place, we expect to release Windows
          • by geekoid ( 135745 )
            Yes, my bad. I shoudl ahve said instll process.

            Nothing in that statement says that you will be able to run the exe and install it, there could very well be adding code for that...based on history I would say there isn't. But hey, they are getting a little better.

            My concerns is there going to release SP3 to all non-POS users(or prevent the install) makes some changes to the service pack, and then open it up. Essential creating two different SP3s.

            If you are running in production system, and especially one tha
    • It happened after they announced the release date and after it went into beta, though: that's the problem. One would expect that a company of MS's size could catch this stuff earlier in there development/release process, and the fact that the didn't is a cause for concern. Not really a cause for complaint, mind you, but this is slashdot after all.
  • by Buran ( 150348 )
    ZDnet had posted a link to it this morning, so I downloaded it here on the fast conection I get at work. I was planning to slipstream a SP3 install disk to have it ready for the next time I need to install, but now I'm wondering if I should just wait. But it seems like they're not going to change SP3 itself but just release a hotfix later -- is that so?

    I don't use, and never will, the app they're concerned about.
    • That's what I gathered from the article. The only thing being changed is whether or not XP SP3 or Vista SP1 automatically installs or downloads via automatic updates on machines running Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System. My assumption is that you'd be fine installing this now as long as you are not running Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System but then again it is a new service pack for a Microsoft product so assuming this will be the only problem is silly :-)
    • If you don't use that app, besides the general wait period for other bugs to come out there's no reason not to slipstream it since the patch will probably be for the MSDRMS, not a change in Windows. They're just going to change Windows Update to not automatically offer it to people who are using MSRDMS.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can understand holding back from Windows/Microsoft updates, but why hold back from the download site? Unless you want to make people question the viability of XP and reconsider holding off on Vista.
  • by blunte ( 183182 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:13PM (#23244336)
    Makes you wonder what software will break that they didn't test...

    I suppose we owe thanks to the early adopters out there for testing all our updates.

    Now you know why your corporate IT department is so reluctant to update software and OSs.
    • After I installed SP3, it broke Microsoft Office Communicator 2005. Instead of launching as usual, it reverted back to the install script and wanted the CD. Not a big loss, but certainly a flag for an important point:

      The service pack was NOT tested with all current or recent Microsoft software (this app is one version behind). Even just launching it would have revealed this one.
    • Now you know why your corporate IT department is so reluctant to update software and OSs.

      Tis worse - even those of us who have an MSDN Universal subscription - cannot get access to this bloody service pack to do testing prior to the release. Looks the corps will find out what works when the boxes start to autoupdate.
  • by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:17PM (#23244390)
    People actually use that POS?
    • I think that someone was going for +1 funny as DRMS is a Point-Of-Sale (POS) system - very closely related to ...

      wait for it...

      Dynamics - Point Of Sale

      DRMS is intended as a multiuser/multistore solution complete with an upper level interface for consolidating results from all the individual stores. As such, it does have some fairly large installations - meaning folks with enough money to hire nasty lawyers if someone with deep pockets breaks their business systems.
      • DRMS is intended as a multiuser/multistore solution
        Bigger question is why does Microsoft expect people running "mulituser/multistore solution(s)" to use the same OS as multimedia producers, gamers, programmers, etc?

        One-size-fits-all is not a good approach to operating systems, as far as I'm concerned. You wouldn't believe how much junk I have to disable before I can safely and efficiently run my digital audio workstation or video editing suite.

        • by porl ( 932021 )
          yeah, i had to disable windows to get my audio environment working as i like it :)

          (i use ardour on linux with an rme hammerfall 9636 and a focusrite saffire pro26io)


          ps. this is not intended to be a flame, i'm making an attempt at that thing you guys call 'humour'
    • come on mods; POS = Point of Sale
  • In a nutshell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:17PM (#23244400)
    In a nutshell:

      * one of Microsoft's own software breaks after installing SP3 for Windows XP.

      * the software that breaks is a business application, and not some security program requiring undocumented API calls or system drivers

    What are the odds that software from others will break, too?

    A cynical part of me wonders if SP3 contains breaking changes to make life harder for WINE, and possibly other solutions.

    Does anyone have more info regarding the specific reasons for breakage?
    • by icydog ( 923695 )
      Let's be serious now. Microsoft rolled out SP3 partly in an effort to break WINE? Think about it for a second. If SP3 does voodoo magic that causes incompatibility with WINE, does that break WINE? No! Everything that used to work with WINE still will!

      Sure, they can introduce something to cause future applications targeted to XP SP3 to not run on current WINE (which would probably get fixed pretty quickly by WINE devs anyways). But (1) who will write an app that only works on XP SP3+ and leave everyone els
    • A cynical part of me wonders if SP3 contains breaking changes to make life harder for WINE, and possibly other solutions.

      I know it crushes the fantasies Linuxites have, but MS could give a shit about W(h)INE.

      MS wants XP broken in favor of *Vista*. If SP3 becomes mandatory (ie, remove other hotfixes and make only SP3 available or make SP3 required for some Genuine Advantage "upgrade") and SP3 becomes known for making XP work worse or slower, it has a good chance of making Vista look better and possibly sta
  • by jberryman ( 1175517 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:18PM (#23244412)
    getting all those glitches in on time for release.
  • by MrKevvy ( 85565 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:24PM (#23244486)
    SP3...apparently broke a Microsoft application, Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System...

    Service Pack withdrawn because it breaks the Microsoft DRM System. Cue tinfoil hats.
  • Amazed (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdc180 ( 125863 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:33PM (#23244580)
    I'm amazed the submitter didn't go for the glitzy headline: "Microsoft breaks RMS"
  • Is there any way to get the Service Pack 3 in its final form if we don't use MS DRMS?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

  • They should have just filled out a Karnaugh map and done the overlapping square trick. That gets rid of some glitches.
  • If my memory serves me correctly, SP2 was also delayed several weeks to due the discovery of the integer overflow class of vulnerabilities.
  • Why? Because this is Microsoft.

    Yeah, okay, retract your "ZEALOT!" claws for a second here and let's just look at their track record over the last four years:

    - XP SP2 - for over a year after its release Microsoft had a free support line set up SPECIFICALLY to roll people back to SP1 because the upgrade broke just about everything. Most official support from Microsoft Products (Office, MSN, etc.) involved the following: Are you on SP2? If yes, go to SP2 support to roll back. If no, continue with troubleshooti
    • Really I do []

      I don't see why I got modded as flamebait. The complaints are perfectly valid, and lo and behold I was right.

      Not saying that there aren't other OS's that have these problems off the bat, but really Windows has historically been the worst, either with releases or with Service Pack upgrades.
  • I never knew that RMS was able to stop a service pack! :) I've been waiting all day to make that one. Epic fail.
  • After many, many years of reading the tripe that passes for news here, I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find a news story that is actually useful. I'm shopping for POS systems right now, and this is gonna make me think twice about MS DRMS. The last thing you want in a POS is instability. Lines of happy customers can quickly become angry if the cash registers suddenly die.
  • So does this mean when its released it will be glitch free!? YAY!!
  • Microsoft racing to restore compatibility with DRMS.
  • Their solution is to set up a filter to make sure that no system running the affected software will get automatically updated; once the filter is in place, SP3 will be released to the Web. A fix for the incompatibility will follow.
    Sounds more like a hack to me.
  • I think that it is still going to cause problems. My local computer mag site already has it as a download and will prolly be on their next cover disk:,microsoft-windows-xp-service-pack-3.aspx []

    But as someone else pointed out, not many who run Dynamics will ever bother to do a manual update.
  • by spywhere ( 824072 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @08:34PM (#23246550)
    After one false start a few days ago, caused when someone posted build 3311 (a release candidate) as the final RTM, I downloaded the final release this morning. I immediately slipstreamed it into a (XP Pro SP2) CD folder, threw an answer file winnt.sif into the i386 directory, and burned a bootable CD.
    Then, I swapped a blank hard disk into this very HP DV9000 laptop, and did the clean unattended SP3 build.
    The build went OK, I installed all my apps with few surprises, and now I'm back up on my old user profile (since I'm on a domain, it even remembers my stored passwords).

    A few observations:
    --They didn't add too many drivers: SP3.CAB (which presumably includes all the contents of SP2.CAB) is only 19587 KB in size, a mere 7 percent larger than the SP2 driver file released in August 2004.
    --I don't think any of those added drivers helped my DV9000: I ended up installing every single device I had to update a few months ago when I last did a clean SP2 install.
    --They did, at least, include the High-Definition Audio update in SP3. This is helpful, since Microsoft no longer offers the update for download; building a clean SP2 box with HD Audio previously required one to find a copy somewhere else before the sound -- and often the modem -- drivers would work.
    --It doesn't include IE7, and my customized Google installer wouldn't work on the SP3 installation, so I had to get it from Windows Update.
    --As one might expect, it saved quite a bit of time on the post-build Windows Updates. Not counting IE7, Office or hardware drivers, this particular machine has only downloaded half a dozen updates so far.
    • by Whiteox ( 919863 )
      Thanks for the info. I'm a bit pissed off that there's no IE7 as some builds require it. Even though I'm pushing Firefox on some of the installs, it would of been nice to have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
      I keep evangelizing this program on Slashdot, but it keeps being worth it, so I'll do it again.

      If people are going to build slipstreamed XP discs, they need to start using nLite. It allows you not only to slipstream in SP3, but also things like Windows Media Player 11 (nice), and there are packs you can grab from the site to add things like Firefox, Acrobat, Sun Java, FoxIt PDF Reader, and so on.


      You can go through and remove stuff. Windows XP has a ton of drivers for video cards.
  • They can always fix the bugs in SP4. :)

  • Why, you ask? Because gamers and enthusiasts are always on the bleeding edge in terms of graphics technologies, and Microsoft, in their profane, demonic genius, have made DirectX 10 only available on Vista. In other words, for me to get the biggest bang for my buck out of a current-generation card (in my case a Direct X 10.1 compatible, Radeon 3870x2), I have to run Vista. Additionally, while this is not a Vista-specific feature, I'm running a 64-bit OS to take advantage of 4gb of system RAM (2x2GB Corsair

  • "What, a Microsoft program stops working in XP? Strange, there is no issue in Vista. Just upgrade to Vista, and all your problems will be solved. May I intrest you in the Ultimate Edition? We are running a special today, $5 off if you order in the next 5 minutes."

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine