No update from Microsoft on Vista SP1, Media Center problems

No update from Microsoft on Vista SP1, Media Center problems

Summary: Following reports of installation problems by some users attempting to deploy the final version of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1, Microsoft is still not saying much. It's not clear how many users are affected by either the endless-reboot-loop glitch or the Vista SP1 prerequisite-update issues that users are reporting. And there's still no word on how or when Microsoft plans to address these problems.


Following reports of installation problems by some users attempting to deploy the final version of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1, Microsoft is still not saying much.

Microsoft officials are not discussing publicly how many users are affected by the "endless reboot loop" problem that users are reporting on Microsoft's TechNet Forums. Microsoft officials also are not saying when or if they will issue new fixes that alleviate the problems.

The problem seems to affect both users who are using the SP1 Release Candidate (RC) 1 Refresh 2 bits (that came out in late January), as well as those using the SP1`bits marked as "RTM" (that went live in early February). Vista SP1 RC 1 Refresh 2 and the RTM build of Vista SP1 are the same. even though their build numbers are different, Microsoft officials have admitted.

Some users also are reporting problems following the installation of new Vista-related updates that Microsoft distributed via Windows Update last week. The updates included some patches labeled as "Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 prerequisites," along with a cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista. Users are reporting on the Vista Team Blog various system problems following the installation of both sets of Vista updates.

It is not clear whether the newer Vista updates released last week have anything to do with the endless-reboot-loop problems. Microsoft seems to be bundling all of these reported probelms into a single, catch-all category of Vista "issues."

A Microsoft spokeswoman issued the following statement, when asked on February 18, about the various Vista problems users are reporting on TechNet and the Vista Team blog:

"We are currently looking into this (issues users are having) but have no additional information to share at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing our users."

Update (on February 19): Microsoft is temporarily halting the distribution of the Vista SP1 prerequisites in an attempt to determine what's causing the endless-loop-reboot problem.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Vista SP1 install fine - but wait for Windows Update delivery!

    Windows Vista users should wait until SP1 is offically available via Windows Update (mid-March).

    SP1 installs just fine but Windows Update will scan your computer and download some prerequisite files needed to ensure the successful installation of SP1.

    Please read the following:
  • RE: No update from Microsoft on Vista SP1, Media Center problems

    Mary, once again your line "Vista SP1 RC 1 Refresh 2 and the RTM build of Vista SP1 are the same, even though their build numbers are different" makes no sense even by its own logic. They ARE one and the same, therefore the build numbers CANNOT be different. And, in fact, they're not. Since there's only one build. Whoever your source is on this is wrong and very confused.
  • Builds numbers are the same

    Build tags of RC Refresh 2 and RTM are the same - they are both 6001.18000 (longhorn_rtm.080118-1840).
    • build numbers

      That's interesting. Microsoft told me the build numbers were different....
      Mary Jo Foley
  • RE: No update from Microsoft on Vista SP1, Media Center problems

    Mary: I normally enjoy your column, but when you talk about "problems" and don't mention specifically what they are, it's a little bit frustrating. Could you be more specific in future cases. It's helps to figure exactly which updates you are talking about..

  • Could be there's another cause of the reboot loops?

    I may be way off base here, but I had my own lovely infinite reboot loop with Vista. How I laughed, and cried, and banged my head against the wall, until I uninstalled Comodo Firewall Pro and everything started working again.

    I expect it's one of those things where a previously unplugged hole was something that the firewall software (ironically) relied on to function properly. I couldn't tell you the exact BSOD message (something about IRQ not less or equal to) or what the core-dump held as I didn't take the time to note it down but, touch wood, ZoneAlarm seems to be holding up so far.
    • Zone Alarm

      I had to remove Zone Alarm from 2 computers before SP1 would let me work on the network. I would get a install successful message but have no network connection.
      • Yeah, it's difficult to find a workable alternative.

        Zonealarm does have a habit, especially before it's loaded fully, of blocking software from accessing the network but not bringing up any notification so you can override it.

        Alas, the only alternative to both of those that I'm aware of is Jetico Personal Firewall and if there were ever a piece of software that needed to get out of my face every once in a while... it manages to object to just about everything Windows Update does so you're having to babysit any multiple update while it blocks every update install at least once, at least on XP and it's not the easiest thing to configure either.
        • What's wrong with the Firewall from MS?

          The above problems are exactly why I continue to use the MS Firewall built directly into the Operating System. And if you are paranoid that some software on your computer is going to actually attempt to communicate with the outside world, the Vista Firewall can be configured (I realize this may be difficult) to stop any "call home" from occuring.

          Comodo, Zone Alarm, Jetico and other outside personal Firewalls will only cause problems and are unneeded.
          • Ask a random security expert (NT)

      • Zone Alarm have put out a patch for SP1

        I have had a message pop up saying an update is available making Zone Alarm compatible with Vista SP1.

        I have applied the patch, but will not be going to SP1 until it is generally available (March)
        I am Gorby
  • PS

    I don't have SP1 installed and I could get in to safe mode, so not exactly the same issue, but maybe something to factor into any troubleshooting.
  • This will not bode well with Enterprises waiting for SP1 to migrate...

    Vista is already a big question mark to most enterprises and history shows that a certain percentage of Enterprises wait until the first Service Pack before even planing on migrating.

    If MS is having this much of an issue with SP1 then I believe that those same Enterprises that would have migrated at SP1 will wait for SP2.
  • Problems seem to be with the user

    From what I am seeing and hearing, users don't read the instructions and don't udnerstand it takes about an hour for the install. They get in a hurry and cycle the machine off/on.

    I spoke to two people reporting the problem and when pushed they admitted they had forced a re-boot because they thought it was "hung".
    • Not enough feedback then.

      I'm really not a fan of 'the user is stupid', 9/10 times the software was just not good enough and it's getting to the point where there is no single O/S that doesn't make me want to punch myself out for one reason or another because it has some flaw or other that's only there because it wasn't profitable enough or it took too much effort for someone to just make it work in a way that made sense.
      • "no single O/S that doesn't make me want to punch myself out" - WOW!!!

        I would imagine that NOTHING is good enough for you. You should probably just kill yourself and get it over with.
        Duke E. Love
        • Well...

          Is it just me or is everyone working on an O/S concentrating so much on the pretty graphics that they've somehow forgotten about the fundamentals of usability? These are all things that I'm questioned about on a regular basis because people think there's something terribly wrong (except for the Mac, I don't know that many Mac owners and the ones I do know are pretty damn technical) or they've done something bad when, in actuality, it's either stupid software (or cheapo hardware) that's written by programmers for programmers who don't get that no-one without 5 years of technical digging and a Comp-Sci degree is going to know that the completely erronious error message about AVG being out of date, when it's in the middle of updating, is either a) not a problem or b) somebody else's problem.

          Vista: haven't yet found a way to make UAC entirely go away, I turn it off and I get this little toolbar notification thingy bugging me about it. Yes, it's off, I turned it off quite deliberately, now shut up. It is also, of course, of great interest to me as to why 9/10 UAC messages, at least for me, appear below the program which needs permissions to go any further so I'm wondering how long it's going to take, then I'm wondering how long that orange blob's been sitting on my taskbar and if it's been there for the whole 10 minutes I've been waiting. I hate focus stealing behaviour at the best of times, especially when it's a succession of dialog boxes you have to get rid of one after another, telling you nothing of import, just to finish a sentence you're typing, but when I have a program selected and I need to confirm permissions just to allow this program to do anything, I think I might want the focus on the dialog I need to see to do anything further with the program.

          Also, why is it that if a window is "not responding" I click to move it, then have to click again to actually get get it to move? Since when does the window manager care that much about whether I can interact with the application? If there's one thing a modern O/S should [u]not[/u] do, it's leave you without an option of saying 'I know what's best thankyouverymuch, now shut up'.

          At least, I suppose, it's got rid of the most irritating part of XP which is the habit of throwing up error messages about your firewall not being on and how the world's going to end and your AV being out of date when it's given neither of them a chance to actually load and they're getting there as fast as it'll let them just as soon as it's finished loading itself and gotten out of the way.

          OpenSuSE 10.3: Why should I need knowledge of RPMBiuld and patching just to change the DHCP timeout when I'm trying to connect to a slow WiFi network? Yes it's a badly managed network, no I can't change that and yes, it [i]is[/i] essential for work.

          Ubuntu 7.10: So I installed an expanded edition off a DVD which comes with XFCE, that's still no excuse for, after installing and applying updates and doing nothing else, dumping me in XFCE on next login with no explanation. That's a classic example of the sort of thing that has the average user wondering what they did wrong when it's a software problem (and how many non-experts would even know what had happened?).

          OS X 10.5: Whereintheheck is my bass and treble control? Why is it that with my bluetooth headset and cheapo phone I don't explicitly have to turn on the headset before the phone once they're paired but OS X has problems maintaining the same sort of relationship between computer and keyboard? Yes, this new-style dock is very pretty, but I still think that time and effort would have been better spent working it so I could turn on an already paired keyboard at any time and have it [u]just work[/u] instead of OS X throwing a fit and giving a choice between a reboot or a re-pairing.
      • I'm not either; but

        and this is a huge but. I had been having issues with Vista. So, I downloaded one of the SP RC's and I too thought the install was hanging.
        Did I know the install would take longer than an hour? Yes.
        Did I know the install was performing? No.
        Why? Nothing was happening, visually or audibly. I can hear my h/d "thinking". Even when nothing is happening. Unless it hangs.
        Now for me here is what happened, BEFORE i decided to "give up".
        1. Everything was going as it should have. Then,I get to the stage 2 of 3.
        This was ineteresting, because I hadn't gone thru stage 1 of 3.
        2. I go thru the reboot process, and I get to stage 2 of 3. Ok.
        3. I go thru the reboot process, and I get to that missing stage 1 of 3 segment.
        4. And that's where the fun began.
        From there, I waited over 45 minutes, and decided since I had already gone through 30+ minutes didn't see anything as happening from MS (SOME type of activity progress bar or circular motion would be very appreciative MS, so we KNOW something is happening).
        Then the constant trying to get the computer to boot to windows at all attempts. Nothing.
        So, I finally give up; go to bed because I just hosed my system.
        The next day, I try to boot again. Nothing. So, out comes the windows dvd, pop it in, and the system boots perfectly.
        I now have Vista SP-1 Build 6001.

        I'd say everything works fine. But, it doesn't. Boot times are faster. But, everything that was wrong before, is still wrong. A format is in order, and then I will attempt to reinstall SP-1. But, only when necessary.

        Regarding XP SP-3; I'm noticing a huge slow-down. May just be something else I installed around the same time; but, I wonder if it isn't an "I-phone" type of installation that is worseless to the speed and functionality of the computer. Upon uninstall, I'll know for certain.

        That's my $2 worth. (Inflation).
    • Vista SP1 Installation can appear like it is hung

      That is why I installed the beta I tried late at night, pushed my laptop to the side, and didn't touch it until the next morning when I woke up, giving it 12 hours to do it's thing.

      I heard it finish at about 1 in the morning, but gave it that extra 6 hours to make sure that it was done.
      • can appear like it is hung

        It should not ever take that long! You can install a whole new OS in a fraction of that time.