I recently purchased a new laptop (ThinkPad R60), and because I already owned
a copy of XP Pro I could legally install on the system, in order to save the
$80 fee to upgrade the factory installation to XP Pro, I ordered the system
with the standard XP Home instead. I saved even more money by ordering it with
the standard 60GB hard drive, which I immediately upgraded to a 160GB drive
upon receiving the system (IBM/Lenovo charged as much or more to upgrade the
drive than I could purchase the drive from NewEgg, and the largest they
offered was only a 120).
All of this meant that I'd need to load XP Pro from scratch after installing
the new drive.
While some view that as a chore, for me it is just standard operating
procedure. Even if I had pre-ordered the system with XP Pro and paid extra for
a larger factory installed drive, as a general rule I like to personally load
all of my systems, as I can usually load a fully updated copy of XP faster
than I can remove all of the "junk" in the preloaded factory install:
In addition, by deleting the (now useless to me) "service partition" I
would gain back another 4 to 5GB of disk space as well:
http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site. ... IGR-4UFUYK
While loading Windows on a system is fairly straightforward, there is a little
known aspect of factory preloads from the larger OEMs that can result in
unexpected problems with a fresh OS load.
The problem is *hotfixes*.
Many people are familiar with Windows critical updates, security updates, and
service packs, all of which address widespread issues such as security
vulnerabilities and bugs. These types of updates are considered general
distribution releases (GDRs), and are available to everybody through Windows
However not many people are aware of hotfixes, which are distributed by
Microsoft in a much more limited fashion to address specific situations for
Some more popular or general purpose hotfixes are made publicly available
through the Optional Software Updates section of Windows Update. For example,
Microsoft released the Network Diagnostics for Windows XP tool as hotfix
Anybody can download this particular hotfix through Optional Software Updates
in Windows Update.
But most system specific hotfixes are *not* made available through Windows
Update, and cannot be easily downloaded from Microsoft. These hotfixes are
often pre-installed on systems from major OEMs, and serve to increase
reliability, performance and otherwise minimize or eliminate problems specific
to those systems. Performing a system reload *without* reinstalling all of the
hotfixes specific to the system (as pre-installed by the OEM) is simply asking
for unnecessary problems!
So what exactly are these hotfixes, and where do they come from?
The truth is that major OEMs have the ability to test their
systems much more thoroughly than an individual or small system builder. If
any specific problems are found during this testing, the OEM works with
Microsoft to produce hotfixes that can solve these problems. These hotfixes
are then pre-installed on the system by the OEM.
For example, the ThinkPad R60 I recently purchased with Windows XP has a total
of 19 hotfixes pre-installed on the system by IBM/Lenovo. Here is an example
of just one of them:
You do not receive the "Safe to remove hardware" message when you click the
"Safely Remove Hardware" icon in Windows XP
If you visit that link you'll note that this particular hotfix is not
available for download, instead you must "contact Microsoft Product Support
Services to obtain the hotfix", and the article implies that you may even be
charged for support costs in the process.
Note that when performing a "product recovery" using the manufacturer supplied
recovery discs or partition, these hotfixes will be automatically reinstalled,
however when installing Windows from scratch using a standard Retail, Upgrade
or small OEM System Builder disc, even after going to Windows Update and
installing *all* available updates, you would still *not* have most or even
any of the pre-installed hotfixes back on the system.
So how can you perform a system load WITHOUT using the product recovery
procedure, and yet still insure that you have ALL of the hotfixes intended for
the system by the system manufacturer and Microsoft?
Fortunately with a little foresight and effort, these hotfixes can be
preserved and reinstalled on the system after an OS reload. The key is to
identify the hotfixes, locate the installation files on the original factory
preload (or download them from an alternative source), save them to another
disc or drive, and finally reinstall them after any subsequent reload.
1.) Identify - The primary method to identify all of the updates on a system
is to open the Control Panel; Add or Remove Programs; then check the Show
updates box and look under Windows XP - Software Updates for any hotfixes.
Using this method you can select each one and follow the links for information
to discover what each one is for.
Unfortunately there is no easy way to print the entire list using Add/Remove,
but there is an alternative. The Microsoft Qfecheck tool will not only show
you all of the updates installed on a system, it will also verify that they
are current and valid as well. I've been using Qfecheck since the Win95 days,
and while it is not automatically included with Windows, you can get it here:
Qfecheck.exe verifies Windows 2000 and Windows XP hotfixes
Qfecheck runs from a command prompt. You can save the output to a text file by
redirecting the output to a file as follows:
qfecheck > updates.txt
After running this command, the file updates.txt will contain a list of *all*
updates installed on the system, some of which may be hotfixes. You can print
this list, and enter any of the update numbers at
to locate more information about them.
2.) Locate - Before reloading a major OEM system, merely search the hard
drive for any files with the hotfix numbers in their names. For example, I
found all of the factory hotfix installation files for the ThinkPad R60 in a
folder called \SWTOOLS\OSFIXES on the preloaded hard drive.
If you can't find the hotfixes on the hard drive, you can download them from
either Microsoft or from websites like Xable's Hotfix Share portal:
Xable's Hotfix Share is especially useful for obtaining those hotfixes that
Microsoft does not easily make available for download without requesting it
3.) Save - Once located or downloaded, copy the files to an external hard
drive, flash drive, or optical disc for safekeeping.
4.) Install - After installing Windows and doing all of the standard Windows
Updates, reinstall the hotfixes by copying the install files back to your hard
drive and running each one individually. If you like, a single batch file can
be used to install them unattendedly and with only one restart at the end:
How to install multiple Windows updates or hotfixes with only one reboot
Finally, use Qfecheck to verify that all of the hotfixes that were originally
installed have been reinstalled.
In the end, by preserving and reinstalling all of the factory hotfixes that
were preloaded on major OEM systems, you can increase system reliability,
performance and otherwise minimize or eliminate problems specific to those
Copr. 2007 Scott Mueller