Having searched everywhere for information on various problems I've been having with Windows I have instead decided to list them here. If you think you know how to get around any of them then please send me a message and I'll tell the world, and probably Microsoft too (who don't seem to realise that these problems exist).

I am currently using Windows XP Service Pack 2

Gradients in Internet Explorer

Microsoft has a feature in Internet Explorer that allows parts of web pages to add a colour gradient via style sheets. While this may not be hugely practical, it can have aesthetic benefits if used well. Unfortunately my version of IE doesn't want to show these gradients. I have previously had this problem and I believe I fixed it with a reinstall or repair. But now that I'm on XP SP2 there is no IE entry from which I can select repair, and inserting my XP CD tells me that the version of XP installed is newer than that on the CD so it won't refresh the installation. I could install XP again or use a slipstreamed version, but this seems like unnecessary hassle just to correct a display glitch. Do you know what the cause is or any quick fix?

Update: After a bit of research I'm inclined to believe that this problem relates to DirectX filters since other viual effect and page transitions are also affected. I also note that the alpha-blended shadow on my Java Control Panel icon is shown in solid black. That is, some transparency effects don't work (but mouse shadow and window transparency are fine). Reinstalling DirectX is almost inous d does nothing to fix the problem. I suspect either a missing/corrupt filter library or an incorrectly set registry key.

Explorer Silenced

Since installing SP2 I've sometimes had Windows Explorer simply refuse to open and folder windows. It gives no feedback whatsoever and just silently refuses to open windows. I have to go through Internet Explorer to open local folders. This occurs occasionally and is not regular. Any ideas?

Solution: As strangely as it came this problem seems to have gone. I've reinstalled SP2 a few times since the problem started, so maybe that fixed it.

Various Explorer Crashes

Not a lot to go on here, but my version of Explorer regularly crashes, often restarting silently or sometimes popping up a message saying that it must be shut down but without offering to report the error. Of course, this could be due to many things, and I expect a lot of people experience it, but surely there must be a fix? Losing open windows and system tray icons can be quite irritating.

Blue Screen on Shutdown

IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL 0x0000000A 0x000002CC 0x000000FF 0x00000000 0x804E3B58. Hardly memorable, but something I see on a blue STOP screen every time I shut down or (attempt to) reboot (pretty much as the computer is ready to turn itself off). Chckdisk sometimes follows, but not usually, and there is no option to report the fault to Microsoft. I've a hunch this is to do with some old CD software that Windows doesn't like, though I've tried uninstalling that and still the screen appears. After installing XP SP2 the screen went away for the first reboot to be replaced with a separate spontaneous crash while I was working (IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL 0x0000000A 0x00000004 0x00000002 0x00000001 0x804EE2FE), but now the former has returned and the latter hasn't since occurred. I can't find any information about these on the MS knowledge base.

Update: Somebody has reported the same problem on their XP SP2 laptop (though I'm inclined to believe that this also occurs in SP1, and possibly earlier versions). A generic decription of this type of crash is available from Microsoft and blames device drivers or hardware. I've suspicions that my problem may be linked either to my Logitech mouse or CDRW drive, but I can't confirm either of these, and it's likely that the affected laptop will be using different hardware to my affected desktop. (Update: The laptop appears to have no CD or pointing hardware or software in common with my computer).

Update: This seems to be a fairly common issue. Blade has emailed me to say he got the same BSOD error on starting Windows, but fixed it by removing his Pinnacle DV500 video editing card. I don't have this card, and I doubt the laptop in my previous update does either, so the Jury's still out as to the cause, but if you do have this card then try removing it and restarting. Perhaps the fault is in a common shared driver file?

Curiously my computer is now sometimes dumping its memory on the shutdown crashes, and I have subsequently been able to submit a report to Microsoft, who class it as a type 2404036 error report. I haven't checked that the dump was generated by the same error code, so this might be a separate issue, but I'll check next time it happens (if it does).

Update: Fintan has pointed out some posts on a forum suggesting that the cause may be Adaptec's UDF reader. UDF is a system that allows you to use a CD like a giant floppy disk, copying a file at a time. When upgrading to Windows XP this functionality was lost and replaced with Microsoft's two-stage solution whereby you copy files to a temporary location and then write them to CD in one fell swoop. UDF is stored slightly differently from typical CDs and needs a special driver. The Adaptec tool conveniently writes this to the CD in a way which is visible to computers that don't have it installed, however it appears that this tool may be responsible for the blue screen on shut down. As Fintan points out, the Adaptec UDF reader is not a vital Windows component, however without it you may be unable to access data on some CDs, so you will need another packet reading driver. I can't vouch for any, however ISOBuster claims to do the job. See also this knowledge base article. I've certainly used the UDF reader after using the Adaptec DirectCD software (and was quite disappointed to have this benefit taken away when I upgraded to Windows XP), so it may be due to incompatible software I've had lying around since before I upgraded my OS.

No Windows Update

When I attempt to use version 5 of the Windows Update website I get error 0x80240030 (has encountered an error..). Windows Update did work after installing SP2, but no longer does.

Solution: I now have Windows Update working again - I'm not sure what I did, it may be as simple as reinstalling SP2 (though surely I must have tried that before).

Windows Update .net Framework dotdotdot

When I could get Windows Update working it kept informing me that I need to install the latest version of the dotNet framework (SP2). Which I have done. About twenty times now. Why does this entry keep recurring both in versions 4 and 5?

Update: Now there has been a new Framework release I have a slightly different problem - both Microsoft .NET Framework 1.0 Service Pack 3, English Version and Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 fail to install, but only after I get a requester asking me to select a debugger, to which I select cancel. The errors prompting this are System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException in SL21.tmp (1.0 SP3) and System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException in SL22.tmp (1.1 SP1).

Cisco VPN 201

My Cisco VPN client intermittently tells me "Error 201: The necessary VPN subsystem cannot be found" despite waiting for MS network drivers to initialise at startup. Although the error greys out the connect button it can usually be circumvented by pressing enter, which often successfully connects to the remote network. Though quite independently it sometimes doesn't work and freezes on 'authenticating user' before timing out.

Update: One source claims this error can be avoided by removing the client from startup.

Update: I've just had the following message from Joan, who thinks there is an incompatibility between Cisco VPN and Microsoft's .NET Framework 1.1:

After reformating my hardrive and reinstalling WinXP and then one software at a time, with a VPN check, I discovered the issue is with Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 and above. Roxio includes this in installation - otherwise I would not have discovered this. When I uninstalled all .NET framework and removed from registry via regedit, my VPN is working perfectly. I don't know the solution for keeping both yet.

Hard Drive Freezes Computer

More of a hardware issue, this. Sometimes my computer freezes - often for minutes at a time - and emits beep-beep about once a minute. The issue is usually resolved when I hear one of my hard drives spinning up. On the next boot there is often a horrendous screech as the IDE drives initialise. I imagine this is some sort of hardware issue with the hard drive, though if you know different your help would be appreciated. My two hard drives are 120GB (boot) and 30GB Maxtors.

Fussy Sounds

Since upgrading to XP I haven't heard any startup, shutdown or log on/off sounds. They are in the sound control panel and play well enough there, just never when they should be invoked. I've also had the navigation 'click' sound disappear as spontaneously as it appeared following my installation of XP SP2.

Explorer Window Rearrangement

I have my Windows Explorer toolbar to the right of the menu bar, on the same row using small icons and no text labels. The bars are locked in place. From time-to-time the toolbar will reposition itself below the menu bar with text labels turned on. It is easy enough to put back, but why does this happen and can it be prevented?

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Please note, I use Windows but certainly don't consider it to be the only operating system out there. Where possible I try to use a diverse range of operating systems. This page is solely a list of some unsolved failures I have experienced with Windows XP. I appreciate the value of Linux, Mac and other operating systems, but any suggestion to switch to another operating system is pointless since my eyes have been open to existence of other operating systems for fifteen years or so.