Graphics driver issues for XP on an iMac
August 21, 2008 10:29 AM   Subscribe

We can't boot into Windows XP, except in VGA mode, without the screen going black after the Windows XP "loading bar screen"; we can still hear everything, though. This is on an Intel iMac running Boot Camp, and the Mac side (Leopard) works fine, which leads me to believe this isn't a problem with hardware.

Here's the chronology of what's happened so far. I'll try to provide as much detail as possible, which means I might include some red herrings; we're relative novices with Windows, so bear with us.

1. Upon restarting into Windows from the Mac side last night, an error message was displayed before any of the Windows warm-up/loading screens came up: "Unable to find Windows/system32/config/system" and asked us to insert the Windows XP disk to reinstall this file. (We're not totally recalling the phrasing here.)

2. Upon inserting the disk, we ran "chkdsk /r". This took hours and it was late, so we headed to bed.

3. This morning, the process looked finished, so we restarted.

4. The problem, as described in the lead-in above, occurred.

5. We went to VGA mode, and upon trying to go through the Appearance>Display control panel, were given an error message which told us that "the current graphics display driver cannot be used because it was written for a previous version of Windows" (which makes no sense, since we've never had another version of Windows on this computer...) and that we need to either "contact our hardware manufacturer to get an upgraded driver" (presumably this is Apple?) or "select one of the Microsoft provided drivers."

So the question seems to be: how do we procure this new driver? We can't get on the internet from the Windows side, and if it's telling us the driver that came with XP is somehow not compatible anymore, I'm not sure what we need to do. Where do we look?

One other thing that may be worthy of note, based on what I've read in other forums, is that this computer is used for some pretty heavy MMORPG playing, so perhaps the video card or graphics hardware may be reacting to being really hot and giving us display problems? We don't have any cooling system set up other than what came with the iMac.

If it makes a difference, I'm typing this question on a Macbook without Windows/Boot Camp.
posted by mdonley to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Odds are your graphics driver is corrupted. What you need to do is find the original OSX discs that came with the iMac, those disks should have all the necessary Windows drivers which would be installed with Boot Camp.

Reboot the computer in Safe Mode (hit F8 while Windows boots and it will give you the option for Safe Mode).

In Windows, right click on My Computer (in the Start Menu) and go to Properties. Then click the Hardware tab. Then click the Device Manager button. A screen will appear and you'll see something that says "Display Adapters" with a plus sign next to it. Click the plus sign and your graphics card will appear.

I'd FIRST try right clicking on all items under "Display adapters" and choosing uninstall. This should remove the items. Then reboot the system into XP normally. It will detect the video cards and probably ask you to insert the OSX disc so it can get the driver from it. You may need to reboot again and you should be good to go.

If you can't uninstall them, then right click on every item under "Display Adapters" and go to "Properties". Then click the "Driver" tab. If available click "Uninstall" then reboot as described above.

If "Uninstall" isn't available, click "Update Driver" and point the browser to your OSX discs and hopefully it will reinstall the driver from there.

Good luck!
posted by arniec at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2008

I'm not seeing the "Display adapters" option on the Device Manager menu at all. Up to that point, I was able to follow the steps above.

I do see an option called "Sound, video, and game controllers", and when clicking on the plus sign, the following options are displayed: Audio Codecs, Legacy Audio Drivers, Legacy Video Capture Devices, Media Control Devices, Realtek High Definition Audio, and Video Codecs.

On going to the View menu in the Device Manager menu bar and selecting "Show Hidden Devices", I get more categories of devices - including one called "Non-Plug and Play Drivers" - but I'm not sure I want to uninstall every single driver on there.

posted by mdonley at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2008

Okay, so it appears as if your display adapter driver is already uninstalled.

Have you tried going to Start, Control Panel, Add Hardware and walking through that wizard (and then pointing it to the OSX disks when it asks for a driver disk)?

If you run that, click "next" past the info screen, it will then search for any hardware in your system that does not have a driver installed. You'll be asked if you have already connected the hardware to the computer, choose the Yes box. It will then show some hardware...see if you see anything that starts with ATI or NVidia, or anything that is obviously your graphics card, and if so, highlight it and click next. If you DON'T see that, scroll to the bottom and choose "Add a new hardware device".

Let me know here if that works...
posted by arniec at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2008

Right - did that, saw an ATI graphics card thing, clicked it, clicked next...and was told it was working; then a help/support center window popped up and asked if I was having a problem with a driver; when I clicked yes, an error was displayed: "AP GTS reports an Error, Possible invalid data received, Errors Occurred in This Context."

We restarted to see if perhaps we'd done something, but no - the original problem remains.
posted by mdonley at 1:14 PM on August 21, 2008

It looks like you have some severely corrupted files on the hard drive.

Just to validate, you rebooted in safe mode, went into the Hardware list, and saw no "Display adapters", right?

If so...

Easiest solution would be to just erase and reinstall XP using Boot Camp.

If you really want to go down the road of troubleshooting, then you should follow these steps (and note the original Windows XP disc MAY be required for some of these):

Go here and download Windows XP Service Pack 3 (just the service pack, it's not all of XP). Install it. Reboot.

If problems persist,

Go here and download the latest version of DirectX for Windows XP and install it. Reboot.

If still you're having problems,

Go here and download the latest "combined" drivers from ATI; this driver package supports the vast majority of their cards.

I hope this helps...
posted by arniec at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2008

Yeah, we did exactly what you said. We'll look at these last options and if nothing else works, we'll reinstall XP. Thanks for all your help!
posted by mdonley at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2008

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