A couple or so weeks back, I fell asleep holding a mug of tea, spilling tea on my lap and on my daughter's 3 y/o DELL Triple-Core M501R laptop, killing the laptop and HDD.
Yes, I know. In one of my first jobs in IT, if you went into the computer room with food, drink or were smoking, you were instantly dismissed and escorted off the premises by two security personnel (it was a a big hush-hush operation with very strict rules about security risks.)
So I cannibalised an old 32-bit DELL Inspiron (with Intel Centrino Duo) which had a failed hard drive (OS=Vista Basic), and swapped in a 120GB hard drive from an old Toshiba (XP) laptop. Then I installed Windows Ultimate on the DELL and proceeded to go through about 150+ updates via Windows Update.
Then I try to install the next update - SP1. But it won't work, as the install says it does not support the operating system. The install for IE8 (the laptop has IE7) also says it does not support the operating system. Hmm.
A lot of mucking about ensued, with no progress. Double-checked everything.
I checked all the reports from the OS. They told me that it is definitely Vista Ultimate. The SP1 update pack and IE8 update pack are definitely OK for Vista Ultimate.
So what gives?
Peeking inside using X-Setup Pro v9.2.100, one of the plugins reported that there is a flag set which indicates that this laptop is a "Type XP" computer. There are around 9 different "Types" - one of them is Vista. I can't find out (looked in the Registry) where this flag is set. The setting is not editable, but I edited the plugin to change the reported flag setting - to see if it made any difference. It didn't.
So I log in to my DELL account and install a lot of the DELL standard software and drivers for this DELL laptop's TAG/build, hoping that will convince the OS that it is "Type Vista". All goes well on the installs, but it doggedly remains "Type XP" and the update packs still objected.
As I had by this time been up all night and the next day on this case, I put the laptop into sleep mode, closed the lid, and went to sleep myself. When I woke up, the laptop was ON and felt a bit hot to the touch, lid still closed (it has a latch). I open it up and everything seems normal/OK, with no indication as to what woke it up. I dismissed it, suspecting my 3Â½ y/o, and then played around a bit more with the DELL software, and went to restart the laptop via the Start menu - but there was a new little icon on the Vista shutdown button, with a popup on mouseover to the effect that "Switch off and enable update to install". So I pressed that.
The screen showed usual/normal logoff steps, and then displayed a light blue Vista background with something like: "Please do not switch off or remove power from the computer. Update in progress. Installing update 1 of 1..." - with a revolving orb and moving dots and an intermittent disk activity light all indicating that something was happening.
I guessed that with my messing about it could well be - finally! - doing the SP1 update install.
So I left it alone.
The downloaded SP1 update package filesize was either (from memory) approx 430Mb (for the 5 language install) or 640Mb (for the 36 language install). After the Windows Update had downloaded SP1 but failed to install it, I had downloaded both and tried to get them to install, but with no joy. I suspect that the laptop must have woken up on a scheduled start, and was installing the SP1 update package that it had already saved to disk in the earlier (failed) attempt via the Windows Update.
That was at about 7PM last night.
It is now about 21hrs later and within the last hour or so (I haven't been keeping a close eye on it), the screen has started to display a new message: "Shutting down..." - with a revolving orb and an intermittent disk activity light indicating that something is happening. (The screen goes dark but illuminates when the touchpad is touched, whereupon one can read the message.)
I wondered whether this is what passes for "normal" for an SP1 update to Vista Ultimate. The DC Forum doesn't have much on it, and neither do other forums, though they do seem to generally show that Vista is a bit of a nightmare to support.
Anyway, having come this far, I am reluctant to pull the plug, but really it does seem strange.