Windows XP SP2 hangs on install. Why?
August 21, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me with a weird Windows install problem.

I have a two-year-old MacBook Pro which I have upgraded with 10.5. I was able to successfully install Windows Vista on it with the Bootcamp Beta under 10.4. Later, I wiped my Windows partition and resolved to install Windows XP instead. Using a tested Windows XP CD, I started the install but it would hang when it reached this screen, before I even press ENTER or F3 or R, all of which I have tested and which have had no effect. I have tried this with two different Windows XP Professional SP2 discs and the result has been identical.

I have searched far and wide to try to find the answer to this problem on Google and have plumbed the depths of Apple's support files, but to no avail. Apparently this problem is either unique or I'm not calling it by the right name.

I would prefer to not have to either use Windows Vista or try to find another Windows disc, although if that's the only option I suppose I have no choice if I ever want to play Team Fortress 2 again. I am reasonably computer-literate.

So, then, the questions:
1) What is causing this? CD drive failure? Bizarre bug in the particular verison I'm using?
2) How can I fix the problem? Some voodoo key combination at bootup? Use a different version of Windows altogether? Give up? Repartition my hard-drive?
3) Does this problem indicate a larger issue with my computer?
posted by Electrius to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I know this is stupid and also impossible, but just throwing things out there - have you tried an external USB keyboard at that prompt to see if it accepts input? Just thinking out loud here.
posted by kbanas at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2008

I've been having a related issue with my new computer, though not nearly as serious. It doesn't like my normal USB keyboard when booting, so if I want to use GRUB to boot into anything except the default I have to plugin a PS2 keyboard to select it.

Anyway, what kbanas said: seems like the setup doesn't understand the built-in keyboard on the macbook.
posted by katrielalex at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: Forgot to add that setup does understand the keyboard: I can press whatever key it is to select a special SCSI driver. It just locks up and hangs when I get to the aforementioned screen.
posted by Electrius at 8:13 AM on August 21, 2008

Other things that occur to me.

1. Have you updated your MBP to the latest firmware from Apple? These EFI firmware updates seem to specifically address issues with BootCamp stability. Look at this - but, of course, make sure you get a revision that is specific to your MacBook Pro.

2. Do you have an external optical drive on hand? That could eliminate the CD drive as a culprit. Do you have access to any XP /w SP3 media? You could try that.. or, using your available media, you could try to create one by slipstreaming the SP3 update onto it.

3. I think there's some sort of Apple Hardware Diagnostic on one of the installation discs that came with your Mac. This might expose a possible memory problem. We use a great utility called MemTest for our x86 machines, but I don't know if you can boot a MBP using it.
posted by kbanas at 8:23 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: 1. Firmware is up-to-date.
2. I'll try SP3. I think I can find a copy somewhere...
3. I was unaware of AHT. Unfortunately, the CDs that came with my Mac are somewhere else right now, possibly several miles away. I'll be going there later today and will check for them there.
posted by Electrius at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2008

If it's not a keyboard issue, as others have suggested (I never ran into that issue when installing it on my MBP), why not try waiting half an hour to see if it's just hanging? That's probably not it, but the Windows installer hangs so much and offers so little feedback, I wouldn't put it past it.

Definitely check for EFI updates, as others suggested.

Other than that, how about slipstreaming Service Pack 3 and see if that helps? Or maybe download or find an older version of XP?

Memtest x86 is included on most linux discs, and you can run it if you download/get a disc. If you live near a university, there's probably a Unix/Linux club more than eager to give you an Ubuntu disc, if you don't have a CD-R to spare. Just look for the option in the menu that pops up when the computer first loads the disc. In my experience, if there is a serious problem with memory, Memtest tends to pick up on it in the first 45 minutes, but I'd run it overnight just to be safe.

Also, if none of this works, try Crossovers Games to play TF2. The shading is pretty awful (DirectX 8.1 quality), but it's definitely playable.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2008

Best answer: This post mentions the same problem, cured by unplugging the mouse.
posted by samj at 9:07 AM on August 21, 2008

Here's how to slipstream manually. This is nLite, which makes slipstreaming a bit more user friendly, and has other options, including making a stripped down version which uses less disc space and resources if you just want to play games.

I'm not saying I'm 100% sure slipstreaming is the answer, but I'm throwing out the option. Plus, it saves time and space since you're going to probably install SP3 anyway. Looks like you'd need a Windows machine or at least a VM to do that, though. If you don't have that set up, I don't blame you if you decide to make slipstreaming your last effort, although you can easily set up a VM with a trial key, and it's worth the money/time even if you only run a few basic Windows apps regularly.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:11 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: The mouse thing was the problem. I can't believe I didn't see that when I was running earlier Google searches.
posted by Electrius at 10:23 AM on August 21, 2008

Just a note for anyone else who happens on this thread: A slipstreamed SP3 CD won't necessarily work correctly for the install. Read through this, the single most useful tip sheet I found while installing XP SP2 on Boot Camp a few weeks ago, for more details.

Also, not even all slipstreamed SP2 CDs are created equal. I created one, and it definitely didn't work correctly. (Unfortunately, I didn't have an extra, empty PC on hand to test it out on before attempting to use it with Boot Camp.) I ultimately had to use BitTorrent to get an SP2 .iso that would work right. (With which I used my rightfully purchased original license key, tyvm.)
posted by limeonaire at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2008

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