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download sp3 fails, MS thinks PC is Mac!

by Boppi5 / August 6, 2008 6:45 PM PDT

I am a Mac user, but my husband uses an HP Pavillion 7955 PC with WindowsXP Home edition, I think it is about 2001 version. He did some security updates and blaster worm fixing in 2003, but has not done any upgrades since then. His PC is connected to a DLink router (wired) to our cable modem, which connects to my iMac. I am trying to troubleshoot for his PC.
We have identified these problems that may or may not be related:

(1) Microsoft download site identifies PC as a Mac

He noticed some problems with automatic shutdowns about 4 weeks ago, thought he might have spyware because Windows Antispyware kept opening and quitting. He purchased Norton antivirus software online, but it will not install until Windows xp is updated to servicepack2 or 3. He followed link to Microsoft's site to download sp3. Every attempt to download anything related to Windows results in message 'thank you for visiting our website. This download is for Windows only. To download for Macs, visit our website....." and gives a link back to the Microsoft Download site. MS's download center apparently is 'reading' our PC as a Mac.
It is an endless loop. I tried booting into safe mode.....same results.

(2) Probable virus infection:

I uninstalled the Security program that kept opening the Antispyware and then quitting, but other programs started giving 'have to quit' messages, shutting down in 60 seconds. Safe mode boot did help with that, but rebooting into usual mode got the error messages that the "remote procedure call terminated unexpectedly" and began cycling so that the computer shut down and restarted over and over. I found the fix to go: Start->Run: shutdown -a to stop that and it did work, but the only info on that is from 03, saying that it is the Wm32 Blaster/Lovsan worm. Is that information still that worm still around? Would it reactivate/come back despite the fix we did in 03? I tried to turn on the Firewall which was not on, but got the message that something like Internet Connection sharing failed. I think the Firewall cannot be activated because it is the Mac that is connected to the cable modem.

I did do a System Restore, but it would not go back as far as it said it would, May9 nor all the restore points from then to July 30, just said system restore failed. Finally able to restore it to July 30, but problems began about June 30 with many errors on the log.

What are the next steps/recommendations/fixes to find out what virus(es) are on his PC and how to get rid of them, and how to correct the misidentification of our PC as a Mac so that we can update Windows?

Would it be best to reinstall Windows XP from the installation disks, doing a clean install?

I copied all his documents, photos and video clips to an external hard drive two days ago before starting to investigate his PC. Would a virus be likely to damage these? Can we assume they are fine if they open ok? If we get his PC virus-free and operating correctly is it safe to copy these back to his computer's hard drive?
Thanks for any help with this. Sorry, but we are a bit naive about this Happy

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Just to start this off.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 6, 2008 8:35 PM PDT

Good questions. Whilst you could persevere with attempting to recover this PC from these problems, it may be that a complete re-install will be quicker and easier, if you are both happy with that procedure.

Can you confirm that you have the XP CD and all the drivers, (often on a separate CD)? I ask because at the HP site for your model here, the guidance seems to suggest that this PC did not come with recovery CD's but has a recovery partition instead. Of course it may well be that you obtained the CD's from HP, something that we often advise members to get.

The guidance on that site may be useful for you.

A recovery/reinstall will remove all virus/spyware infections at a stroke from the main hard disk. However those backed up files on the external disk may well be infected, so be prepared before you reconnect that disk. Have an anti-virus application installed, updated, and running in the background before you examine the contents of that disk, and run a full virus scan on it before copying or opening any files. An anti-spyware scan may be useful as well.

You may find that you get an Access Denied error when trying to access that external disk. If so, you will need to Take Ownership.

Some of the questions you asked;

1] Yes, the Win32/Blaster worm is still around. They all are.

2] Why does Windows Update think your PC is a Mac? Not sure. Do I understand that this PC accesses the internet through the Mac? Or does it have it's own internet connection through the router and modem? Whichever, what happens if you disconnected the Mac and connected the PC directly to the modem, or on its own through the router to the modem without the Mac connected?

In any case, SP2, (note, I don't mean SP3), was a major upgrade to XP, and it catches out any PC that is not squeaky clean of infection and is otherwise not running smoothly. I am sure that SP3 will include all previous SPs for your PC but I must admit I am not 100% certain. It seems logical though.

If that Windows Antispyware is the anti-spyware utility offered by Microsoft, it is now Windows Defender, and the old version may not have been catching all spyware. Get a couple more anti-spyware utilities, not to run continuously, but to perform stand-alone, manual, scans occasionally. We find we need more than one AS nowadays to catch everything.

Personally I would not have paid for Nortons. Whilst many have no problems with it and like the product, there are also reports that it is bloated and a resource hog. There are, many, free anti-malware products available and our Spyware, viruses and security forum will have some of the better options available.

If you decide to recover/reinstall, do that whilst disconnected from the internet, and make sure the Microsoft firewall is on before re-connecting. It becomes the Windows firewall after SP2, a much better firewall, but again there may be better, free, alternatives available.

I hope that helps.


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Thanks for the help
by Boppi5 / August 7, 2008 6:33 AM PDT


Thank you for your detailed reply. No, I don't know for sure that disks were supplied with this computer. We bought it in 2001.
I looked at the link you provided, and I think our HP probably does have a recovery partition. I printed out all their info about recovery. We really use this computer just for Internet surfing, document/powerpoint creation and email. MS Office is the only major program we installed, and the only peripheral connected is a printer. A recovery seems more sensible than trying to fix everything. We can reinstall Office and download a new print driver if needed.

Re: the problem with Windows Update seeing the PC as a Mac....I think I misstated previously. The connections are wired, not wireless. I have the cable coming from the wall to a cable modem. The modem is connected to a DLink router and all of our computers (2 Macs, this HP PC, and sometimes a PC Laptop) are wired to the router. Whether the Macs are connected or not should not make any difference. I will see what happens with it disconnected, but I think it is more related to the virus than with the connections.

After we do the recovery, should we update to SP3? I tried to get SP2, but Windows Update for that defaults to SP3.
We will definitely get more antispyware, and the anti-malware. I'm not a fan of Norton either; it doesn't play nicely with a lot of Macs, but he wanted it, and I think his system can handle its bloating.

We appreciate your taking the time to respond and help us.

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That Mac error is strange
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 7, 2008 8:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the help

Bob was noting that if we try to use any browser other than IE to goto Windows Updates, then similar messages may be displayed, but as you use IE that doesn't seem to be the case here.

From what you say about your setup, it doesn't look as if connecting the computer directly to the modem, or disconnecting the other computers, will make a difference, so it looks like using that recovery partition to start afresh is the way to go.

If Windows Updates only offers SP3 then that should cover all previous updates, including SP1 and SP2.

Good luck.


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by Boppi5 / August 7, 2008 9:59 AM PDT

Yes, I guess the complete clean recovery is the best solution. Thank you again for all your help.

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by Boppi5 / August 7, 2008 6:07 PM PDT

I did the recovery from the HP partition, following the guidelines from your link. Worked great! Took time to get all the recommended HP updates before attempting to get the Windows service packs.

Enabled Firewall. Spent some time getting the Internet connections to work as MSN kept defaulting to dial-up, but did find the appropriate network settings to correct this.

I then had to install XP's SP2, as SP3 will not install on this computer. After an initial installation failure, it worked!

I am writing this from my iMac, but as I sit here, the Norton antiviral software is installing and I will run it on the external drive before copying all the data back to the HP.

Internet connection is up and running, and the only things left to do are to get an updated printer driver, and reinstall MS Office.

Big Thank You! for all your invaluable information and assistance.

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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 7, 2008 7:21 PM PDT
In reply to: Success!

That's great and I'm glad it went (reasonably) well. Thanks for reporting back.

Strange about that SP3. I wonder if it means that you needed SP2 installed before attempting SP3? I wouldn't have thought so, but there you go.

Are you saying that SP3 is now installed after an initial failure, or are you still having problems?

Is there any possibility you can backup the whole drive now? Perhaps a utility to create an image of the drive onto an external disk? That could be something you look at later on.


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Think I am finished
by Boppi5 / August 8, 2008 7:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Excellent

I ran Norton on the external drive that has the documents photos and videos. It was clean, so I copied those back to the computer, as we want that external drive to be a backup for them.

I had to reconfigure the internet settings as it kept having MSN connect via dial-up instead of cable, but once I figured out how to change it, everything worked fine.

I reinstalled MS Office and downloaded the appropriate printer driver.

I don't know what the issue was with SP3. I did some research on it and found that some people don't like it, so if all is well for now, I think we are going to just stay with SP2. It took me a while to locate a download for it. I don't know why the first attempt to install it failed, but the second time was successful. The info I read on SP3 was that it would incorporate all the previous SP changes from 1 and 2. Do you think it is necessary to have it, or will we be ok with SP2?

My husband is thrilled and I am pleased that I was able to amaze him by fixing his computer Happy
It would not have been possible without your carefully detailed responses to my questions, and I thank you for that.

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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 8, 2008 8:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Think I am finished

Yes you should install SP3 eventually. Probably soon.

It didn't add any important or major features or security fixes, but was more a consolidation of small fixes and updates. On systems that did not have SP2 it does include that (major) upgrade, but Windows Updates determines what each computer system needs anyway, and so with SP3 it only extracts what your system needs at the time.

The thing is, whilst your computer will run OK without it, these updates tend to be cumulative, fixing things on the way, and some later fix that may be critical may need some element or other of SP3 to update properly.

Generally SP3 was a benign update. We tend to see a false picture in these and other forums with all computer problems. People will only post if they have a current problem, and those whose computers are running smoothly do not raise any issues. That may seem obvious of course, but my own feeling is that there were fewer reported problems with SP3 than, say, SP2.

Isn't it great when other people think of you as an expert? I help here under that illusion all the time, Devil


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Had one more complication
by Boppi5 / August 9, 2008 7:59 PM PDT
In reply to: SP3.

Yes, it is great when you are able to help someone with a tip or two and suddenly you are a genius! I post a bit in the Apple iLife discussions and I have learned a lot. When I pass on this information and someone is grateful for the help, and thinks I am a very experienced user, I am humbled because I am still learning, too.
I don't know that much about PCs, but after all this, I feel more comfortable about working with ours.

We ran into an unforeseen situation. Had I known what to do before the Destructive System Recovery, I could have prevented the loss, but now we know. Apparently, my husband's MSN emails are saved onto his computer, not on the MSN server. He didn't set it up, just went with the defaults and never looked into it. When I copied all his documents to the external drive, I assumed that all the files in My Computer would copy over......maybe too much thinking it would be like my Mac Happy ..... Somehow the emails that he had archived did not copy. Now, of course, they are gone. We contacted MSN tech support and a techie at a level higher than the first responder took over the PC and searched, but did not even find an MSN folder on the new configuration.
He said in the future, search specifically for the MSN folder and the db30 file which contains the emails.

So, now we will be prepared if we have to reinstall, but it is sad that he lost his saved emails....probably had hundreds of them. He forgave me, since it was not apparent that I had done anything wrong. How was I supposed to know that copying an entire folder would somehow miss these?

And, one other thing, the operating system now seems to be very much slower, with slow opening and closing of everything. Anything to make this faster?

My husband is fine with the upgrade and that his computer is now working again. Will he run into problems if he doesn't update to SP3? He will probably consider getting a new computer in the next year, since this one is almost 8 years old.

Thanks again for your patience with our concerns.

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Hmm, those emails.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / August 9, 2008 9:56 PM PDT

I don't know anything about MSN email. With my email system I can choose the option to "Delete from the server" once any emails are downloaded to my computer. If MSN has the same option, and if that option is not set, I wonder if any of those emails are stilled saved on the MSN server? Just a slim chance maybe. The only way to find out is to reinstall the MSN email software and see what gets downloaded.

It's strange that the system is so slow after a reformat and reinstall. The reasons could be many and varied, but some questions;

1] Is Starting up the computer slower, faster or about the same?

If slower, then this could indicate a missing driver somewhere, eg a motherboard driver, or it could be a Process or Service that is slowing it down. Too many Processes and/or Services can do this.

To check your running Processes, open the Task Manager, (either by pressing CTRL+ALT+Del together, or right click the Taskbar and select Task Manager). Click the Processes tab. Around 30-40 running processes is normal, but each computer is different. You can check the Processes by Googling each, or using an online resource like www.answersthatwork.htm to check each one. You can also see which, if any, process is using the cpu a lot. That Process tab should have a column called CPU, (if it doesn't, goto View > Select columns, and select CPU usage), and if you click the CPU column header twice, you can see the list in cpu usage order.

For services, open the Services Console. Goto Start > Run, type in services.msc and click OK. Make sure the Extended tab at the bottom is selected, and examine the list. Open the Properties of each service by double clicking it. The ElderGeek has a very useful list of service descriptions here;

If the Windows Indexing Service is running that can cause slow down. It can be safely disabled.

2] Does the Desktop, (shortcut icons, taskbar, etc), take a long time to display?

If so, this could be a problem with "explorer.exe", and this could indicate virus damage.

3] Is this slowdown specifically with opening and closing programs/applications? And if so, all programs or just specific ones?

Specific applications may indicate what sort of problem this is.

4] Are there any other visible effects, eg choppy video or music?

Such things as missing "CoDecs" will cause this. A CoDec is a small piece of software that is used to compress a video or music file and the same CoDec is needed to decompress it when it is played, (COmpressionDECompression).

5] Are there any other computers connected to this one in a home network? (You may already have told us of your setup).

If this computer is attempting to interrogate another networked computer, and some settings have been lost, maybe the Network Connection Wizard needs running again.

6] Bad RAM.

If one of the RAM sticks has failed or is failing, this can cause a slowdown in performance. For this we can open up the case, and start removing memory sticks one at a time to check, (not something I have ever done), or there is software that can scan and check the memory, something like Memtest, from But this will take hours to check memory.

7] Or a Virus utility?

I can't remember which anti-virus you use, but some of them, (McAfee, Norton's), can be resource hogs.

This problem may not have an easy fix. Sadly, this seems to be the case with many Windows issues.


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About item 1.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 6, 2008 11:03 PM PDT

I could get that message if I didn't use Internet Explorer when I went to Windows Update. I didn't see that detail in your post.

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PC thinks it is mac
by Boppi5 / August 7, 2008 6:35 AM PDT
In reply to: About item 1.

Are you saying that when you used a different browser you have received this same message?

We are using IE; it is the only browser on this computer.

Any way you know of to fix it other than a recovery/reinstall as Mark recommended?

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It's all in the details.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 7, 2008 9:25 AM PDT
In reply to: PC thinks it is mac

Sorry but since you did use IE let's try the other zingers.

1. There is "protection software" installed. I can't know what you installed or its settings.

2. There is some BHO (see google) and its interfering. Hint? Remove all BHO.

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Thanks for your help
by Boppi5 / August 7, 2008 10:01 AM PDT

I think the best solution is to do a clean reinstall, which for our HP is a recovery from the recovery partition. We will have to reinstall Office, but that is not a problem.

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My mac thinks it's a PC
by gberke / August 12, 2008 3:03 AM PDT

running mac 10.4.11 on an intel iMac and Microsoft et al think it's a PC and it tries to download a .exe file, but fails for some unknown error, or says it can't download to that folder.
I repaired permissions, which really needed repairing, but that didn't work. Restarted after the repair, basically the same problems.
Haven't done a reset PRAM yet, or the NVRAM, but that's going to be next.
It is not dependent on the browser (it fails under firefox 2, firefox 3 and safari)...
But that information goes to the net via the browser, so it has to be coming from the PRAM (or the EPROM)... somebody has something wrong and that's being given to the browser.
But, hmmmm, I am running an intel mac, so the source of the problem could be the same.
You might reset your eprom or at least have a peek. I'm pretty sure you can't actually set that yourself. But, hmmm, the Mac will book pc for windows at which time it will say "I'm a pc" or maybe just tell it the operating system it is running is windows, or mac, or linux, or something else...
curiouser and curiouser

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