The one major thing that I did not like with my Dell Mini was the fact it had installed XP Home. My main grip with this was the fact my main user account had to be an admin user, and I could not login as a user called administrator unless in safe mode. So I decided to do an in place upgrade to XP Professional (which also meant i could join the company domain). This seemed straight forward, I attached an external USB DVD and got the XP Professional SP3 slipstream media. The process continued as you would expect until the final reboot where it sat on the splash screen saying ‘please wait’ for a hour or two.

Normally you would have a disk activity light to give you confidence something was happening (oh that the other thing I miss on the Dell Mini). Anyway after a couple of hours I decided nothing was happening so did a hard reboot and up came the PC upgraded. I could login as administrator (in normal mode as opposed to just in safe mode) and set file encryption - so all seemed OK.

However I then tried to access the Internet. Initially this seemed to work, but as soon as tried to follow a link on a page I got a message about ’no activation context in the registry’. Also when I tried to activate the new Windows license I got no dialog, it seemed the MSOOBE.EXE that is run behind the scenes was failing. It became obvious I had a corrupt IE install; the in place upgrade had left me with an interesting mix of IE 6, 7 and 8 beta. This is why I think it stalled on the splash screen.

So I downloaded the IE8 beta again, reinstalled it and everything started to work.

So the technical tip is - if you are doing an in place Windows upgraded remember that you are probably going to alter the version of IE and as it is intrinsic to how Windows operates you might get problems. Make sure you get the known version you want at hand to reinstall it.