Here is an interesting problem in Windows XP. When you click the start button, the entire start menu was corrupted. You click on the All Programs link and nothing happens. You click on the My Computer link and nothing happens. In fact, the icons on the control panel were corrupted. When you go to the Control Panel and attempt to edit user accounts, you get a message “The specified module could not be found”. You couldn’t modify the services. And a whole lot of other weirdness was going on.

Do yourself a favor. If a lot of weird things are going on, go ahead and do an in-place upgrade, aka a repair installation. I spent several hours trying to fix these problems one at a time and could not. The only thing that worked was an in-place upgrade.

So what did I did. Well naturally I wanted to start with the System File Checker. That did not fix anything. I tried using Dial-a-Fix to repair Windows. Even the advanced options it had did not fix the problem. I didn’t want to do an in-place upgrade because of the slight risk of failure. Although to be fair, I’ve only seen a failed in-place upgrade on Windows Vista, which it recovered from. The way the Windows XP in-place upgrade works sometimes it will not let you. After much frustration, I finally went ahead with the in-place upgrade. Which worked, although it had its share of problems.

After the installation process prompts the user for the last time, it copies several more files. The problem was it kept prompting me to find a file that it could not find, except that it did find it but never copied the file. I tried a different CD drive, same thing. I tried a different disc, same thing. After a while I began to examine the files the program would not copy and the files it was attempting to replace where the same size but a date a few days in the future. I decided to manually attempt to expand these files from the CD to Windows. But after about 20 with no end in sight, I stopped. I was using the Dell XP Home SP2 CD anyway (it was a Dell laptop) so I figured between installing SP3 and all the Windows updates I would be okay. And I was. Windows installed properly, the updates and service pack installed properly. All the problems were fixed.

So, as another note, if Windows is not expanding a file from the CD or DVD and if the file exists, ignore the problem. Chances are good a security update will overwrite the file anyway.