FAQ: Windows XP SP3 reboot hell

The "endless reboot" cropped up immediately after Microsoft made XP SP3 available to the general Windows-using public by posting the service pack to Windows Update last week. Here's how to get out of them.

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Microsoft's having a tough year with reboots. First it was a reboot ad infinitum in February, brought on by a flawed update to Windows Vista. Now the same thing's happening to some users who have updated to Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3). What gives?

We don't have the answer to that - at the moment, no one seems to have the definitive answer to that. But we do have answers to the most pressing questions about the latest Windows snafu, including a developing game of blame.

What's happening?

After some users update to Windows XP SP3, their PCs reboot - which is normal - but then fail to start up, and then reboot again and again, which is decidedly not normal.

The "endless reboot" cropped up immediately after Microsoft made XP SP3 available to the general Windows-using public by posting the service pack to Windows Update last week. Within a day, users were reporting problems in messages on Microsoft's XP SP3 support forum.

Why are some PCs rebooting endlessly?

Microsoft hasn't given any official explanation, but users on the support forum sharing accounts have identified several possible causes. Some seem to affect only systems running processors made by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), while others have also hit users with Intel -based PCs.

Although it's possible to get a feel for the theories by reading multiple support forum message threads, the best source of information has been a frequently updated blog post by Jesper Johansson, a former program manager for security policy at Microsoft and currently an MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional).

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