Windows XP Service Pack 3 – Part 1 In this article I discuss the two different methods I used to install Service Pack 3 (SP3) and if the results are the same. The first method will use a clean install of Service Pack 2 (SP2) and then applying the security updates using Windows Update and then applying SP3. The second method will once again start with a clean install of SP2 and then I will immediately apply SP3 using the SP3 download file. A comparison of the files installed using both methods will then be made.
For these tests I used a PC with a fresh install of Windows XP Service Pack 2. The test pc also had a couple of utilities installed. I will be using Norton’s Ghost to create image backups of the PC before and after each test, which I will refer to as the baseline image backup.
CCleaner: http://www.ccleaner.com/ A utility that removes unwanted cookies, temporary files and other junk. Note that when CCleaner is first installed most if not all the options are checked which is far too aggressive so I unchecked all the ‘Advanced Options’ and selectively checked only those options that were of some value in establishing a clean baseline for the testing.
Beyond Compare: (30 Trial edition – Version 3.0.1), used to check and verify the results of the two different methods I used to arrive at SP3 being installed. http://www.scootersoftware.com/
No other Microsoft or third part applications such as MS Office, Windows Defender, Windows Live One Care, Anti-Virus or Spyware applications, IE 7 or IE 8 beta, Etc. were installed. The intent is to exclude Office or other product updates from being installed or interfered with during the Windows update process.
Note: Because some time has passed since the release of Windows XP SP3 I had to determine what was the last SP2 update that is included as part of SP3. I checked the following MS article titled: List of fixes that are included in Windows XP Service Pack 3: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/946480/ and determined that KB950749 (MS08-028) is the last SP2 update (and is also the highest KB number) in the list of fixes.
I also checked when this security update was installed on my other PC which is still at SP2. It turns out that the 950749 security patch was part of the “Patch Tuesday” Windows Updates available in May of 2008. So even though SP3 was released in late April it included the May update for SP2 users.
After activating Windows on the Test PC over the Internet, I immediately made an Image Backup before installing the large number patches that would be available using Windows Update. Remember that I performed a “Clean Install” using a Windows XP SP2 CD and as such there are a large number of updates available for SP2 users since SP2 first became available in August of 2004.
Note that after a clean install of Windows SP2 you will not find any folders with names like: C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKBXXXXXX$ (Which are the uninstall folders for each security updates or hot patch installed on the PC). You will also not find a folder named: C:\WINDOWS\$hf_mig$ or $NtServicePackUninstall$. More information on these folders will be covered as the article progresses.
Next I clicked on the “Windows Update” icon in the start menu expecting to see the long list of updates available since SP2 was released. I was wrong; instead I was treated to a couple of WGA updates (including ActiveX downloads) and an update of Windows Installer to version 3.1 V2.
At this point there was now a C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB898461$ folder (Software update 898461 installs a permanent copy of the Package Installer for Windows version 220.127.116.11). This update eliminates some redundancy in the way the Package Installer functions when using the Windows Update feature. For more information see: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/898461
Also a C:\WINDOWS\$hf_mig$ folder was created when KB898461 was installed. For more information on the $hf_mig$ folder see my article titled: Is it safe to delete the $NtUninstallKBxxxxxx$ folders.
After the fore mentioned software was installed I once again ran Windows Update and this time was greeted with a long list of updates to download and install. Before starting the update process I created an image backup of the Windows partition which will allow me to restore the Windows just incase some of the updates failed to install or other problems during the update process occurred.
Pre Update Check: I checked each KB number listed in the Windows Update web page and unchecked those that were not in the list of updates that are included in Windows SP3. Note that some of the updates not included were Media Player updates or updates released after the May 2008 security updates for SP2 users and therefore were not included in SP3.
Updating Windows SP2 I started the Windows Update install process for the 85 updates that were applicable. It took about 11 minutes to download the updates to the hard drive, 9 minutes to install and another 4 minutes to complete the update process by rebooting the PC, note that at the Welcome screen I waited for the initial high level of disk activity to cease before logging on. Total time to install all applicable SP2 updates 24 minutes using a 20Mbs Internet connection. At this point Windows should now include all the SP2 updates that were available prior to the release of SP3.
Just to be on the safe side I decided to run Windows Update one more time to see if anything new popped up on this update list after installing the 85 initial updates. Nothing new but almost forgot the option updates, found three that are included in SP3 so I installed these updates also. This made a grand total of 88 updates applied to a clean install of Windows Service Pack 2. Note that there where no driver updates listed and if there were they would not be included in the SP3 update, so none found and none installed.
If you have an interest of exactly what transpires during an update then read this detailed article: “The Package Installer (Formerly Called Update.exe) for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems and Windows Components” http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windowsserver2003/deployment/winupdte.mspx Among other things, the above article also explains why errors reported in the .log file created by installing an update are not in fact errors.
Windows Update History, Belarc Advisor and the WU5 installation script each reported that all updates where installed successfully. At this point I made another image backup of the Windows partition. This backup will be available if needed to restore Windows just in case something goes wrong during the SP3 installation process.
Note that the $NtUninstallKBxxxxxx$ folders now consumed 221MB of disk space and the $hf_mig$ folder is 229MB in size for a grand total of 450MB of additional used disk space after installing the updates. Your PC may have additional $NtUninstallKBxxxxxx$ folders if you have other Microsoft applications installed.
Also the C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download folder had grown to 383.6MB in size and contain more than 88 folders, one for each update installed plus a few others.
Installing SP3 (Method #1) Brief review of method #1: 1) Perform a “Clean Install” of Windows SP2. 2) Activate Windows 3) Apply SP2 security and hotfix updates using the Windows Update site. 4) Install Windows Service Pack 3 using the SP3 download .exe file. 5) Create and image backup which will be used for comparing the results of the two methods of installing SP3.
The installation of SP3 took about 20 minutes during which it unpacks the SP3 files to a temporary directory (about 435MB of files). When the SP3 progress bar reaches completion you will be prompted to restart the PC to finish the installation. It took a long time for the PC to reboot and for a while I was beginning to believe the PC was hung at the shutdown screen, so I just walked away and about 10 minutes later it had rebooted and was prompting me to make the choice to turn Automatic Updates on or off, I choose “Off” and then logged on. I then checked Device Manager, all devices functioning properly.
What did SP3 leave or didn’t leave behind after completing the install process. 1) A slew of .log files were created. 2) A folder named C:\WINDOWS\$NTSevicePackUninstall$ was created. It is 489MB in size and is used to uninstall SP3. Warning: If you delete this folder you can no longer uninstall SP3. 3) All the C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKBxxxxxx$ folders created when I installed the Service Pack 2 security and hotfix updates are still present. 4) The SP2 security and hotfix updates are no longer listed in the Control Panel’s Add/Remove programs list. Searching the registry revealed that all the entries had been deleted from all locations in the registry. 5) Belarc Advisor shows SP3 as being install, but no longer includes the SP2 list of security and hotfix updates. 6) The WU5 installation script however still reported the list of 85 SP2 security and hotfix updates that I had downloaded and installed using Windows Update prior to SP3.
A big Time problem: It wasn’t until I created the image backup (step #5) and then shutdown the PC that it became evident that the shutdown was taking an undue amount of time. It tried booting and shutting down several times, each time it took about 12 minutes of watching the “Windows is shutting down screen” before the PC would complete the shutdown process and power off.
Because of this issue I have decided to investigate what is causing the slow shutdown and will now split this article into two parts. Part 2 will include the solution to the shutdown problem, method #2 of installing Windows SP3 and if there are any differences the Windows files when comparing the two methods.