I'm pretty shaken.
I tried to install XP SP 2 and it was a pretty harrowing experience.
It started like this. I had got the XP SP 2 installation CD bundled with one of the recent issues of the c't computer magazine, but hadn't installed it yet. However, yesterday, the Windows Update service notified me that SP 2 was available for download; would I like to download and install it? I decided not to, since why download 80 MB or more when you have it on CD? But today, I thought I'd install it.
So I popped in the CD and got a welcome screen. I clicked on the Readme and skimmed it. Then I clicked on "Start installation" (or something like that)—and nothing seemed to happen. WTF?
I opened the Task Manager and terminated the process. Upon which, a program "decompressing files" started and proceeded to do Stuff.
I let it run through for a while, then the screen turned itself off. I realised that while I had disabled the screen saver (so that I could see what was going on), I hadn't disabled the monitor's power saving settings. So I tried to open the system panel to do so.
Bad move: I could open the system panel but couldn't open the "Display" applet: EXPLORER.EXE crashed. Oops. And the system panel no longer responded, either. Fortunately, Alt+Tab still worked to switch back to the installation process, which read "performing final installation steps".
And it stayed there for ages. That was when I started to become scared that I had "broken" something. I talked to Stella and told her of my situation and she comforted me a bit. Then I went to read a book.
After a while, she said that the progress bar was at roughly the 50% mark, and how far had it been when I left it? The same place. Hm. So I decided to press the button at the front of the computer, expecting that to switch it off. However, it actually started a controlled shutdown.
One program (to do with the wireless keyboard) hung, so we said Terminate Now. And the system shut down.
On re-starting, I noticed that the splash screen only said "Windows xp", not "Windows xp Home"; that the throbber was blue, not green; and that the copyright years were missing.
Then, a blue screen appeared, with light grey text saying that the installation was not completed and that it would, therefore, roll back the installation; one could follow the progress by a row of dots that got longer.
At one point, the screen went blank and then the old splash screen appeared. Whew! Perhaps the system had indeed healed itself.
However, when I chose "pne" at the login screen, I received a message telling me that SP 2 had not been deinstalled completely and that I should use the Software applet (Add/Remove Programs) to deinstall it properly. OK, fair enough.
However, when I went to open the system panel, EXPLORER.EXE crashed again. At this point, Windows XP re-started it for me, but it crashed again when I opened the system panel.
Then I had the idea to start the .cpl file by itself, and I had a look for plausible ones with my file manager. After a couple of tries, I found appwiz.cpl, which was the right thing, and I chose "deinstall" for Windows XP SP 2.
That went more or less all right, except that the "list of new programs since you installed this service pack" included all programs on the computer. Eh, whatever. Probably a side-effect of the incomplete installation, I thought, and I said "OK" to the message telling me they may not work properly in the future. The next screen was a list of "new devices since you installed this service pack", and this was a little more scary since it included things such as the keyboard, hard disk, or printer. But eh.
Stuff happened, and occasionally the mouse would not move, perhaps when the system was fiddling with mouse-related stuff (I kept moving it inside the deinstallation window so power saving wouldn't kick in). It'd usually come back again after a couple of settings, but towards the end, the mouse pointer stopped moving and didn't come back again. Oops.
So when the system said "Done; click Finish to restart your computer", I couldn't, since I couldn't click anything if the mouse didn't respond :p. The keyboard was gone, too. Oops. So I hit the switch on the front again, which sort-of worked... at least, until it got as far as the keyboard LED applet again, which it asked me to Terminate Now—but again, I couldn't click anything. So off to the power supply switch I went.
When the system came up, my firewall told me that Run Once was trying to start a program, and was that fine with me? But my mouse was still not working.
Fortunately, that came back after a while. But when I logged in, I got greeted with error messages telling me that drivers for my DSL card, my printer, and my scanner couldn't be found. (It's probably not a coincidence that those are the devices that I installed later, i.e. that were not included with the computer.)Ouch. If the DSL card doesn't work, then no Internet for me. Eeep^20. Oh, and the ATI control panel applet said that there was no ATI device driver installed. And while I hadn't installed a new graphics card, I had installed a new driver, before installing The Sims 2. At any rate, I reinstalled the ATI graphics driver, then rebooted when the installation routine asked me to.</p>
When it came back up, the login screen had a scrollbar on the right! Apparently, the system was running in 640×480, or possibly 800×600; at least, not the 1024×768 I was used to. Presumably, the graphics system was a bit confused and so Windows picked a safe "lowest common denominator" graphics mode.
Eep. I shut down the computer and went back to bed and had to have Stella comfort me a little.
She then proposed that we look for the CDs and try them; she didn't believe that the computer was really that broken—and even if it was, she said, we could just call some phone number and they'd help us out. I'm not sure whether that last bit reassured me, though, since I imagined the tech support would ask me to reinstall my operating system, and the computer only comes with a recovery disk that restores the C: partition to the condition it was on purchasing. And while I had meant to store my stuff on D:, I never got around to re-pointing Documents and Settings there, so I just kept the default.
But then she got out the CDs for the DSL card and the scanner, and proposed that we get dressed and go down to the cellar, where the printer box ought to be.
It turned not to be there, and my hopes sank again. But Stella thought a little and remembered that she had torn apart the printer box but that the CD and installation booklet had been in her desk, so they should be in the cupboard in the bedroom now that her desk is not in the then-study-now-nursery any more, and she said she'd have a look for it.
And indeed she found it after a while.
So I started the computer again and popped the various CDs in the drive in the order in which Windows complained to me about some device not working. I had another brief moment of fear when the DSL card driver tried to autodetect the connection settings to the DSLAM and nothing happened for a bit except a message "Error / Retry", but then it recognised a Texas Instruments device on the other end of the line and after a bit longer, it had a successful connection. Phew.
I was also able to change the resolution back to 1024×768 using the ATI control applet, and on reboot, the login screen no longer had a vertical scrollbar. Good.
Internet worked, too; the scanner seemed to be recognised (though I haven't tried it yet), and the printer works as well. Finally. (I haven't tested the USB cradle for my PDA, but I hope that'll work as well.)
But sheesh, that thing gave me a scare. Even if it was probably user error that caused everything to go south, that was still a heart-stopper.