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Last night, Ari's new laptop was issued a bunch of patches from Microsoft. This morning, the startup process ended with a blue screen. Every time.
I started working with it at about 7am. I'll spare you the longest and most boring part of the story and just say that I was finally able to get a normal boot out of it by about 4pm.
Here's a few things I learned:
1. If you start Vista in safe mode, you cannot use the Windows Installer to remove software. Brilliant.
2. Vista does have a better interface for System Restore. It shows you more information and is better at showing you what changed since that time. It does not, unfortunately, fully restore the system to its previous state.
3. Vista includes a utility called "System Configuration" that allows you to set the next boot to be a safe boot, or a diagnostic boot that loads only system drivers, and those services and startup programs you select. Unfortunately, the services aren't grouped into any kind of dependant list or other useful manner.
4. If Vista fails to boot some number of times -- and fails in just the right way -- something new comes up called "Startup Repair". This is actually a pretty effective tool. It seems to check the boot sequence and the ability of each driver that loads, one at a time, for stability. It takes a while, but it does actually seem to fix things.
HOWEVER -- It is still Vista.
What I mean by that is, Once you select to go ahead with "Startup Repair" and it runs for a bit doing something deeply secretive, you get a prompt that asks if you'd like to use "System Restore" to go back to a previous configuration. You are given a dialog box that the options "System Restore" or "Cancel".
If you want to CONTINUE to use "Startup Repair", you have to hit "Cancel".
Yes folks. That is, click "Cancel" to continue with "Startup Repair". See, you're cancelling the "System Restore" so that you can continue with "Startup Repair".
Do you get that?
By the way, from what little I can tell, if you do choose "System Restore" at that point, there is no indication that it can actually be done from there. There's no real GUI loaded, and the one time I tried it did nothing at all.
So remember, "Click Cancel to Continue".
By the way -- at 4pm I had determined, finally, that the problem was with one of those updates. I'd been able to get the system up and running, but reloading the updates crashed it again. That means I'll spend this evening loading them one at a time until I know which one fails, then locking that one out.
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