This will certainly not be of any interest unless you a) use XP as an operating system and b) are the kind of person who is quite happy to reinstall the operating system yourself if it needs reinstalling, rather than buy a new computer or pay someone to fix it. Or if you're the kind of person who likes a rambling tale of woe *g*
So between us J & I have six computers; five of these have XP as an operating system the sixth has Windows 7. Over the last month or so the laptop I use all day started to show signs of being a wee bit 'sick' - the dreaded blue screen of death crashes several times; Opera (my main browser) freezing regularly and other programmes being a tad fussy - all the signs that really a reinstallation was needed if only to get rid of a lot of the 'rubbish' one ends up with.
Now this is something J and I have done dozens of times, so it doesn't faze us - it's all about 'watching paint dry' in effect. For reasons that are irrelevant we decided to get a new hard disc for it from our neighbour D (the one who runs a small computer business in what is laughingly called his 'spare time' i.e. when he's not working his actual full time job). So we had a nice, new shiny hard disc that didn't need to be completely wiped before we reinstalled.
J settled down to do it - it's easier for him to to the tedious stuff as I can't sit for long without my legs up - and he put XP on and AVG and hooked it up to the network, all the usual stuff. And then it was time to do the really 'watching paint dry' bit: Windows updates. And that was where the problems kicked in. He clicked on the Windows update button, off it went to MS's website where it threw up an error message and thus we couldn't access the updates.
At this point I decided to lend a hand and made various suggestions (including finding and downloading IE8, starting again from scratch and trying to update before he put on AVG, and various other things) none of which worked. I lost track of how many times he wiped the disc and reinstalled - but it was at least half a dozen. I even had a look on the web and found a couple of suggestions to try: none of which worked.
At this point we were both exhausted and irritated - as I said it is something we have done dozens of times - at at a complete loss as we'd exhausted every possible idea. So I suggested we hand it all over to D and pay him to sort it out. So we did. Now I really thought it was going to be a case of D having it and in half an hour (if that he or his son who works in IT and spends most of his day solving hardware and software problems) would have it solved and J & I would go 'oh, of course, silly us'.
D had it for a couple of days and we heard nothing - but as I said this isn't his full-time job (and I knew full well that he wouldn't charge us the full rate for doing it) so he had to fit it in around other things. Then he rang and for once I took the call (I don't answer the phone if J is here, I don't 'do' phones). The 'good' news: J & I weren't at fault. The 'bad' news: J & I weren't at fault.
D & A had spent around seven hours by this time trying to install and update XP; like us they tried multiple installations (and disc wipes), because like us they were determined that a mere laptop wasn't going to beat them *g* D even went back totally to basics and put the first ever version of XP on and then bit by bit added SP1, SP2 and SP3 - at one point he got as far as getting a list of c.100 updates, but that was all - and A fared no better. They, however, were better at searching than I am, plus have a deep knowledge of error messages and finally managed to ascertain that this was a 'common' problem - and not just my machine.
In August/September MS updated their update system from 5 to 6 (or something like that) and that seemed to cause the problem, i.e. you couldn't reinstall XP - well you could, but you could no longer update it. And given that MS have or will very shortly stop supporting XP the chances they would fix this are zilch'. Thus, I had two options: let D put Windows 7 on or abandon the laptop - basically I hadn't got a choice. So it now has Windows 7 on it. Not that I've had a chance to look at it yet, I had my flu jab yesterday, so that was the one thing over and above my normal day-to-day things I do. Plus, it needs hooking up to the network and AVG putting on - and those are J's domains *g*
In short: XP is fine and will update quite happily (I can attest to that as there have been a lot of updates over the last couple of days) as long as you have an existing installation. However, you will not be able to update XP if you reinstall it from scratch - so don't try. That is my advice - that is the whole point of this ramble.
I have to say as irksome as it was to discover I had to upgrade to Windows 7, I was actually somewhat relieved to learn that the inability to update XP wasn't down to something J & I did or failed to do.