Windows XP Tips


OK, if you are still running this operating system you must be a curmudgeon, or have a good reason why you have not either upgraded or thrown out that old computer.

Nevertheless, there are some things here to help you. I do have one computer with XP still, a laptop with an honest to goodness serial port and use this for some old train software that not only replied on the specific hardware, but the internal communications timing was based on this, i.e. crappily designed software.

How to exist in the modern world

Go here for software:

Interrnet Browsers

Last Chrome version is 49, end of updates was April 2016

Last FireFox version is xx, will end updates in June 2018

Last Opera version is 36

Maxthon Nitro is still supported and is very fast, so I'm trying this on my XP machines.


First off is FireFox.


Latest versions that work on 32 bit XP:

Java: version 8.0_build 231



Hack to continue updates

Williams says that the hack, included just below, makes the system look like Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 which will continue to receive updated until April 9, 2019.

To apply the hack, create a text file with a .reg extension and the contents below:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 


Convert Media Center version to allow joining a domain

  1. Insert any Windows XP CD.
  2. Boot to the CD and choose Recovery Console
  3. Select the installation to log onto (default: 1) and press
    Enter. (Most likely the administrator password will be blank. If
    it is not, enter the password you set or contact the manufacturer.)
  4. Type cd system32\config and press Enter
  5. Type copy SYSTEM c:\ and press Enter
  6. Type exit and press Enter
  7. Boot the PC back into Windows
  8. Click Start > Run Type: regedit and press Enter
  9. Click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (Don't expand it)
  10. Click File > Load Hive...
  11. Browse to and select C:\SYSTEM
  12. Specify key name TEMP and click OK
  13. Expand: (click the + next to) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > TEMP > WPA > MedCtrUpg
  14. Change the IsLegacyMCE value to 1 and click OK (notice it is the number one, not a lowercase L)
  15. Click on TEMP subkey (under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE)
  16. Click File > Unload Hive click on Confirm
  17. Reboot the PC.
  18. Boot into the Recovery Console using the Windows CD again
  19. Select the installation to log onto (default: 1) and press
  20. Type cd\ and press Enter
  21. Type copy SYSTEM C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM and press Enter (Choose yes to overwrite)
  22. Type del SYSTEM and press Enter
  23. Type exit and press Enter
  24. Boot up Windows.
  25. The Join Domain option should no longer be grayed

Cannot run service pack

I am trying to install XP Service Pack 3 on an older Gateway laptop, and keep getting the following error message: "Service Pack 3 setup cannot update a checked (debug) system with a free (retail) version of Service Pack 3 or vice versa." 


Try this:

Go to start---> run and type regedit. Hit enter.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

In right-side pane look for a String value "CurrentType". Change its value to Checked and if its already set to Checked, then set it to Free and click on OK.

Quit regedit.


Try reinstalling SP3.

This is in no particular order, but just a series of on-line notes I keep for tricky problems.

Use any of these AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Here's a set of quick links to what's below:

What NOT to install from Microsoft on Windows XP:
Restore the Internet Explorer desktop icon
Remove Windows Antivirus 2009, 2010 and similar:
Restore the "show desktop" icon in the quick launch section of the the task bar:
Create a restore point, see what restore points you have:

non-destructive XP reinstall (need to check it out myself)

When printing seems to go to hell:

You can remove an obsolete/invalid printer port by deleting the appropriate registry key underHKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Print\Monitors\Standard TCP/IP Port\Ports\

You CAN use keystrokes to do things faster:

Since the creation of windows, there has always been a way to use keyboard keystrokes to do things. Many people forget even the basics (or were never exposed to them), like using "tab" to go to the next field... they type something then click the next field with the mouse... time consuming and slow.

Here's some of the "universal" basics:

ctl c copy
ctl x cuts
ctl v pastes
ctl a select all
ctl f find
ctl z undo
ctly y redo

alt tab switch programs

windows d - show desktop
windows e brings up windows explorer
windows f - find via explorer
windows l - lock computer
windows m - minimizes selected window
windows r - run a task
windows u - utility manager

F6 highlights address bar

ctl enter adds .com to address
arrow and page up and down keys
F5 refresh
ctl T opens new tab
F11 full screen

Error code 0x80246002 from updates

Restore the "show desktop" icon in the quick launch section of the the task bar:

Remove Antivirus 2009, 2010 and similar:

go to:

Here's some good info also:

What NOT to install from Microsoft on Windows XP:

  • windows search or live search
  • silverlight (unless you have a site that requires it)
  • windows live or live essentials
  • any antivirus software from them except Defender

Restore the Internet Explorer desktop icon

If you prefer to resolve the issue manually, perform the following:

    1. Click Start, Run.
    2. Type regedit.exe.
    3. Navigate to the following registry key:

      (wrapped for easy reading)

      Note: If HideDesktopIcons and NewStartPanel do not exist, create new registry keys for them.

  1. In the right hand pane, double-click {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D} key.
  2. If the registry value name does not exist, create a new DWORD value and name it as {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}
  3. Enter dword value data as 0 to enable the Internet Explorer icon on the Desktop.

For user who’re using Classic Start Menu, replace NewStartPanel with ClassicStartMenu instead so that the registry key location is as follow:


Other steps are exactly the same with the above. Refresh the desktop after change to display the IE desktop icon.

Uninstall Internet Explorer 7 or 8:

Why? Because some software does not work with them, and the additional tabs can take up valuable screen space if you have a laptop.

Note: this may be difficult, Microsoft hates you uninstalling their "latest and greatest"

First, if you have 8, you uninstall it with the add/remove programs, this seems to always work.

Now, you want to uninstall IE7, and you can see the ability to do this in the add/remove programs. This does NOT always work, so read the following article:

Windows update fails 0x8007f0f4

First, this is supposed to mean you did not have certain prerequisites installed first, so install all the other update (in my latest case, SP3 would not install)

That, of course did not work. 

Searching more, I found the link to download the sp3 update alone, about 350 megs, and then ran that. Finally I got a message that you cannot install sp3 over the RDP 6.0 MUI Pack, KB925877. OK, good, uninstall it. Oh no, now it does not show up in the add/remove programs. OK, download the patch and try to install it, so then it can be uninstalled.

 It installed, but still not in the add/remove programs (why was I not surprised).

But, I went into the NT$install part of the windows directory, found the subdirectory with this KB925877 in the directory name, went into that subdirectory, and double clicked on the spuninstall... this finally uninstalled the update.

Then I installed SP3.

Make Internet Explorer open in the window size you want:

Every once in a while IE loses it's mind in relation to saved windows sizes. Close all the other IE windows, resize the window (do not maximize) and then close it. This normally fixes it.

If that does not do it, then resize the window as above, but close the window by clicking the X (upper right corner) WHILE holding down the shift key.

Failing that:

  • Open a single IE window (that is wrongly sized)
  • Open a secondary window by right clicking or shift clicking on any link in the first window
  • resize this new window, and close with the "shift X" as above.
  • resize the original window, and close with the "shift X" as aboce.

If you are having real problems with windows coming up too small, you can edit the IE shortcut to always run maximized.

Windows Defender won't run or install or update:

I found 2 sites with fixes, combined them into a batch file and ran it, restarted, and did all updates without a hitch:

assuming your os is win xp and located on your c: drive,

open notepad:

start- all programs - accessories - notepad

Cut and paste this into notepad:

regsvr32.exe iuengine.dll
regsvr32.exe wuapi.dll
regsvr32.exe wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32.exe wuauserv.dll
regsvr32.exe wuaueng.dll
regsvr32.exe wucltui.dll
regsvr32.exe wups.dll
regsvr32.exe wuweb.dll
regsvr32.exe wups2.dll
regsvr32.exe cdm.dll
regsvr32.exe msxml2r.dll
regsvr32.exe msxml3r.dll
regsvr32.exe msxml.dll
regsvr32.exe msxml3.dll
regsvr32.exe msxmlr.dll
regsvr32.exe msxml2.dll
regsvr32.exe qmgr.dll
regsvr32 softpub.dll
regsvr32 wintrust.dll
regsvr32 initpki.dll
regsvr32 dssenh.dll
regsvr32 rsaenh.dll
regsvr32 gpkcsp.dll
regsvr32 sccbase.dll
regsvr32 slbcsp.dll
regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll

Now click on File
Click on Save As
(dialogue box appears)
At the bottom do the drop down in Save as Type as ALL FILES

In File Name box name it Winupdatefix.bat
Save it to your desktop (for ease of finding it)

it will appear as a ms-dos batch file.
double click
press enter after each confirmation. if it says it is missing a file or cannot re-register don't worry. Note: initpki.dll will seem to hang, it just takes less than a minute comapred to the others (that are almost instant).

Restart computer (optional)

try to update again, it will work.

July 2008

Idiot Microsoft released 2 XP patches that locked up many firewalls. Most companies fixed their firewalls, but the two patches are MS updates KB951748 and KB951698

Weird problems:

Recently, I had a computer that would  not install antivirus, acted weird with updates, gmail did not work. I tried everything and no soap. Then went to check the time and the date was off, one month in the future! Some of the error messages I got were about browser cookies not enabled, so maybe it could not set a cookie at a date before "today", but gave this other error message. Try to update the time via synchronization to check this too.

Print Spooler Problems:

Get a spooler error when booting or during operation. Sometimes all the printers disappear.

Go to c:\windows\system32\spool\printers, and also to c:\windows\system32\spool\printers\drivers\w32x86, and delete all files in all directories. You might have to go to safe mode to do this. It should re-list all your printers, but when you access them, you may have to re-install the drivers, so be sure you have your printer drivers.

Can't update Microsoft products via windows update:

Things can get screwed up, the symptom is the updates keep failing. The first trick is to delete the downloaded updates and force update to re-download (I need to put the windows folder here)

If that does not work, then you have some more work to do. First you need to find the product id's for the software that won't update, called GUIDs by Microsloth.

See this article to decode them: article 832672

Now you fix the path in the registry for this by finding the product in the registry: (need to put the article here)

Some updates were not installed:

Try reinstalling the Windows Update Agent. You can download the update agent from this link:

(This is for 32bit Windows.)

Create a folder on your C drive called WUAGENT.

Move the EXE file that you downloaded to this folder.

Open the command prompt by going to Start > Run > Type "cmd"

Now type C:\WUAGENT\WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe /wuforce (Where "C" is the letter of your hard drive.

Can't update Microsoft products via windows update: error code 0x80070643


Step 1: Identify the product code GUID for your Office 2003 product

To determine the product code GUID for your Office 2003 product, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

832672 ( Description of numbering scheme for product code GUIDs in Office 2003

Make a note of all the product code GUIDs for your Office 2003 products that you have installed on your computer. One missing entry may prevent all your Office 2003 products from being updated.

Step 2: Re-create the path of the original installation source in the registry


To do this, follow these steps: 1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
2. Locate and then click to select the following key:


The download_code subkey is a series of numbers and letters in a format that may look similar to the following:


Note There may be multiple download code subkeys that have a similar format of numbers and letters separated by dashes.

3. With the download code subkey selected, click to select the Sources subkey.

In the Sources subkey, you will find the product code GUID values for your Office 2003 product that you previously identified.

Note There may be multiple product code GUID values.
4. With the product code GUID value for your Office 2003 product selected, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click String Value. 
5. Type Path, and then press ENTER.
6. With Path selected, click Modify on the Edit menu.
7. In the Value data text box, type the full path of the original installation source for your Office 2003 program, and then click OK.

For example, type D:\ if the CDROM drive used for installation is the D: drive.
8. Repeat steps 4 through 8 for each product code GUID value that corresponds to an Office 2003 product that is installed on your computer. 
9. Repeat steps 3 through 9 for each download code subkey if you determined in step 3 that you have multiple download code subkeys. 
10. When you have completed all steps, click Exit on the File menu

 More problems with doing updates:

Stop the windows update service (can be called windows update, or automatic updates).

go to the windows directory and rename the directory softwaredistribution

re-start the update service.

 another solution is to reset the windows update components


"Necessary services are disabled or unavailable" when doing microsoft or windows update:

run.... regsvr32 qmgr.dll and then run regsvr32 qmgrprxy.dll .... this re-registers the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)

I hate the stupid Links folder

using regedit, change or create the data type: Data Type: REG_SZ [String Value] // Value Name: LinksFolderName in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar

set the value to blank (nothing)

Then you can go into Internet Explorer and delete the links folder

Manual steps to back up or restore the registry in in Windows XP

  1. Click Start, click Run, type %SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe, and then click OK.
  2. On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Create a restore point, and then click Next .
  3. On the Create a Restore Point page, type a name for the restore point and then click Create
  4. After the restore point has been created, click Close.
  5. To restore, run and select restore, you will get a calendar of the restore points you can choose from


Strange reports that there is another firewall or anti virus program resident, but it cannot be found:

Authentium antivirus - SOLUTION
Authentium firewall - SOLUTION
Earthlink PCC - SOLUTION
Norton Antivirus - SOLUTION
McAfee Security Center - SOLUTION

I'm listing these programs to sort of keyword this post, so that it is easily discovered by search engines.  I've run across this problem with 2 clients in the last week, and I believe we will be seeing more instances of it.  This is a situation where someone has removed a 3rd party security center or antivirus product and it breaks XP's Security Center.  They may install another antivirus or firewall solution, or try to use Windows Firewall.  What occurs is that Windows Security Center may now indicate that there are multiple antivirus programs present and at least one reports it is up to date.  Note that before the installation of another AV solution, Windows Security Center should be reporting that that there is no AV present (because there isn't), but it does not do so.  The Security Center may say that there are multiple firewalls protecting the computer.  Again, before Windows Firewall is turned on, or a different firewall is installed, Windows Security Center should be alerting the user that there is no firewall turned on, but it does not do so.  It may name a firewall or AV program, such as Authentium Firewall or Authentium Antivirus, yet no trace of these programs can be found on the computer, despite searching the file system and registry.  In some instances this issue meant the user couldn't get Windows Firewall to turn on because Windows thought another firewall was in place.  It also means that Security Center might not report that no AV existed or was turned off because it thought there was another AV program there.

Up to now, I was unable to find any solution to this issue using Google, though I found many instances of the problem.  Well one of my fellow MVPs, Malke Routh, gave me something to try this morning and it worked!  Here is the solution! 

Right-click My Computer and choose Manage.  Click on the plus sign next to Services and Applications.  Click on Services in the left pane, this brings up the list of services in the right pane.  (Alternatively you can go to Start, Run and type in "services.msc " and hit enter (don't type the quotes) to bring up the list of services.)

Scroll down to Windows Management Instrumentation and double-click it. Now click on the "Pause" button. Leave that window open and double-click My Computer. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\wbem and delete the Repository folder and *only* the Repository folder. Now go back to the WMI service window you left open and restart the service.  This rebuilds the repository.  I had to reboot the machine. 
If you now go to Control Panel, Security Center, it now correctly reports the Firewall and Antivirus status.

Patty MacDuffie
Computer Haven Admin 


Your outlook express spell check does not understand any words, further investigation reveals it is stuck in French


What are all these old *.msp files in the windows installer directory?

you might find gigabytes of files there. It's uninstall information from microsoft installs. Deleting them can mess up upgrades. In general removing them is dangerous.


But msizap g will only remove orphaned install files, so you might be able to clean some stuff up.

 Netgear wndap350 access point

this is like many wireless-n access points, it can be wierd especially when working in wireless n mode.

many people have reported not being able to go over 54 mbps... especially with Intel 5300 chip sets

one tip is turn off the Rogue AP detection, because it has to drop back to 54mbps on both bands to do this, and it interrupts the 40Mhz (bandwidth) communications.

if you disable WMM, then you can't get wireless N, since it disables MIMO. Several people mentioned that it works much better with an Atheros chipset card in the client computer (makes sense since it's Atheros chipset in the wndap350)

One user changed the mini-pci board in his laptop to a Sparklan Atheros AR5008-3nx mini pci-e card

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