In short, if you run Windows XP you might not want to install SP1 or SP2, particularly if youâ€™ve heard as many horror stories as I have from readers who managed to break a perfectly decent Windows installation during the upgrade process. Thatâ€™s not to say that either Service Pack will necessarily break Windows. Indeed, I patched the XP Home PC that I mentioned above from SP1 to SP2 without any problem at all, but if thereâ€™s a quantifiable risk then I donâ€™t want to mess with the Windows installation on my workstation PC. This is what Marketing types call a mission-critical PC, although I prefer to think of it as the PC on which I earn my living, and it would be a complete pain in the butt if it were to go sick on me.
My last workstation ran on Windows SP1, but in a fit of madness I installed a pair of WD Raptor drives in a RAID 0 array that used the integrated Silicon Image controller on the motherboard. I hang my head in shame when I recount this monumental stupidity, and it came as a nasty surprise that the array broke one day. Although I was able to plug the two drives in to another RAID controller and then use Drive Image to copy the whole shooting match onto a single hard drive, I probably wasted two days of hard graft sorting the mess out.
As I say, I blame myself entirely, although I am prepared to curse Silicon Image too, but it means that I am extremely loath to mess around with my current Windows XP-with-no-SP workstation. Yes I want USB 2.0, and I wouldnâ€™t mind support for the NX bit, however I had intended to wait another year or so and then build an Athlon 64 or Opteron PC with Windows XP 64-bit. Heck, if the Smithfield dual core version of Pentium 4 is any good I may even use that, but for now I was happy to sit tight.
But now, thanks to Microsoft moving the goalposts with Windows Update it looks as though Iâ€™m going to have to build a new workstation with a clean installation of Windows XP SP2 whether I like it or not. Iâ€™m not going to risk upgrading my current workstation, so the only option is to keep it intact while I build a new one and then migrate all my data over once the build is done.
Now Iâ€™m going to be faced with the decision of picking a motherboard, processor and all of the other components required for a new â€œmission criticalâ€ PC. Iâ€™ll let you know how I get on.