SP2 working well for me


With SP2 released and available via Windows Update, I wanted to update all my machines.  Here’s my brief summary of how my upgrades went.

Home machine #1: Toshiba Portege R100.  Upgraded from XP SP1 to SP2 via Windows Update.  Results: Flawless.  Install completed without a hitch, the machine is running great, and wireless is behaving better thanks to the upgrades in SP2.

Home machine #2: Dell OptiPlex GX270.  Upgraded fom SP1 to SP2 via Windows Update.  Results: needed some driver updates.  The install process itself went smoothly, but after using it for a day, I noticed that once my monitor power was turned off (for energy conservation, after 20 min of idle), it wouldn’t come back on.  I went to device manager and told it to find a newer driver for my ATI All-in-wonder 9700, which it did, but the problem was still happening.  So then I went to Dell’s website and looked for BIOS updates — I was a few revs back, so I updated the BIOS, and the problem went away.  I wish Windows Update had automatically found both of these for me, but I’m a happy camper now.  UPDATE: actually, I am still having video problems, ATI’s Catalyst tool tells me on occasion that the VPU has stopped responding and has been reset — the OS and running apps are never effected, but the screen blanks out and then comes back with video acceleration disabled.  I’m trading some mail with folks at ATI now to see if we can’t figure out what’s wrong.  Also, it’s an AIW 9700, not 9600 as I had in my original entry.

Work machine #1: Toshiba Portege 3500 (TabletPC).  Upgraded from SP1 to multiple internal private test builds of SP 2 (and at least once then reverted back to SP1,) up through RC1, and then RTM.  Results:  It’s a miracle this machine still works at all, but in fact it does work, and quite well.  I love the new Tablet and wireless features in SP2, the in-place TIP really improves the pen input experience.  The only glitch on this machine is that when I try to connect to a new wireless network for the first time, I get an alert box saying that some wireless settings could not be saved.  But it connects to the network just fine none the less.  I might repave this machine to get back to a clean state, since not only has it had multiple SP2 interim builds, but it also lived through a number of Office 2003 SP1 betas, including at one point having I think three different version of OneNote running.  UPDATE: It turns out the alert box I’m seeing is actually supposed to be there — apparently Microsoft IT has set some group policy that prevents certain wireless settings from being changed.  The WLAN team on Windows agrees with me that the text of the error message ought to be changed so that it’s more informative.

Work machine #2: Compaq DeskPro Workstation 300.  Upgraded from SP1 to first RC1 and then RTM of SP2 via corporate deployment/SMS.  Result: Working great, no problems at all.  But since I had a nice new hard drive ready and waiting (upgrading the existing 20GB drive to a more respectable 120GB), I ended up doing a fresh install onto the new drive, and that worked fine as well.

UPDATE: Work machine #3: Alienware Area 51m.  Upgraded from SP1 to a couple different RCs, and then RTM of SP2.  Result: Working great.

Overall I’m really pleased with the SP2 experience. On my desktop machines, I’m glad that I have the increased security and the souped up firewall.  On the laptops, the new wireless and tablet features are much, much appreciated — especially given that they’re free!

 

 

Comments (8)

  1. Thomas Lee says:

    SP2 is working well for me, but it did re-introduce a bug in the Theme service that consumed GDI handles. The result was a system that needed to be rebooted at least once a day!

    This bug was fixed in SP1, but has re-surfaced. The fix it to re-install the version that shipped with SP1 – thus far there’s no official hot fix (and the older hot fix does not install over SP2).

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    I’m staying away from SP2 at the moment as many of my engineers have reported dramatic degradation in performance – which is particularly noticable when playing games.

    They explained this to me by saying that SP2 updates a lot of compiled binaries using a new flag that help prevents buffer overruns, and perhaps the execution of these binaries gets slowed down considerably by this.

    Are you able to comment on this at all?

    Regards,

    Michael

  3. jeremy says:

    Thomas – I’ve traded some email with an SP2 test lead, they are looking into this.

    Michael – I emailed the SP2 perf team, and they tell me that they haven’t seen any such slowdowns. Do you have a specific scenario you can share — either a short test program, or even just some end user steps that clearly reproduce the slowdown? Or even just tell us which game, and what the hardware config is, and we can go check it out.

  4. Michael says:

    Hey Jeremy,

    This is what one of the guys said:

    My experience was as follows:

    Pre SP2:

    a) X2 (space simulation) runs fine and fast on maximum settings without slowdowns ever (we’re talking hundred+ hours of play)

    b) Aquamark 3 gives me around 53k Aquamarks

    c) On average I have about 4k to 4.5k handles open in a normal windows session without much loaded (firewall, AV, OS and a few utils) according to taskmanager

    Post SP2:

    a) X2 frame rate drops noticeably when there are lots of ships on screen. This continues for days so definitely not just a reboot issue.

    b) Aquamark 3 gives me around 51k Aquamarks

    c) On average I have about 8k to 9k handles open in a normal windows session without much loaded (firewall, AV, OS and a few utils) according to taskmanager

    Leadtek 6800 GT

    Crappy Dell MB

    P4 2.4 Hyperthreaded

    512Mb RAM

    7200 RPM 80Gb HDD (MAXTOR?)

    Hope that helps

  5. Jeremy says:

    Thomas — are you talk about http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q319740 ? If so, I have good news — I checked in with the test team, and they have released an updated QFE/hotfix that installs on SP2. You should be able to get it from Microsoft customer support.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Michael, the SP2 perf team tells me that SP1 and SP2 showed the same Aquamarks (any changes were within the standard variation over multiple runs.) They have some more questions for your engineer on drivers and additional perf metrics (memory and process count, for example, not just # threads). Can you ask him/her to contact me via http://blogs.msdn.com/jmazner/contact.aspx, and I will forward that on to the perf team for further investigation?

  7. SP2 actually fixed a number of small annoyances on my computer which I’m grateful for. For once I got lucky, woohoo!

  8. The onus is *really* on companies now to fix their damn apps to recognize SP2. NAV 2003’s web page STILL says that the page will change when an update fixes the red shield problem, and it’s been almost months…and this is Symantec. I imagine lesser companies are doing even worse with communicating to their customers.

    Of course, MS having so many false starts with releasing SP2 to Windows Update didn’t help. I got so tired of waiting, I installed the 200+ MB version. Even after that, two weeks later, I was reading stuff about the auto update being delayed.