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27 May 2008, 16:31

Additional problems with SP3 for Windows XP

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Service Pack 3 for Windows XP got off to a bumpy start. First, Microsoft had to delay the release of SP3 due to compatibility problems with enterprise software. Then, there were problems with some preinstalled versions of Windows that had both Intel and AMD CPU drivers installed. Now, there is a growing number of reports that SP3 causes problems if Norton Internet Security 2008 is installed on the system. For instance, once SP3 is installed the device manager apparently remains empty, network connections are not found.

Trashed XP SP3 registry
If you install Service Pack 3 on a computer that runs Norton Internet security 2008, the registry could be trashed

There are also reports that Norton's security software no longer runs once SP3 is installed because the registry keys for the program are incorrect – containing several thousand interlocking entries that start with the string $%&'(. The software reportedly runs fine once these entries have been deleted.

In a test conducted by heise Security, not all of these problems could be reproduced. The device manager showed all the installed hardware, all network connections and network devices were present, and Symantec's software ran smoothly even after Service Pack 3 had been installed. However, some registry keys did indeed contain the bizarre entries described above.

According to reports in the US media, Symantec says it is Microsoft's fault. The security provider says that an update fixes the problem, though the firm does not explain why only its software is affected.

To be on the safe side, users of Norton Internet Security 2008 should uninstall the software before they install Service Pack 3. The security suite can then be reinstalled afterwards. The problems then apparently do not occur.

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