In a paroxysm of administrative fervor yesterday, I increased the available space on one of my hard drives by creating Zip archives to replace folders of old versions of client databases. After increasing my free space by 300 MB, I made a routine trip to the Microsoft Windows Update site to see if there were any updates to Windows 98 Second Edition that might be of interest. At the end of the list, I found an Intel IDE driver of some sort. It is unusual for me to find new drivers of any kind posted, so I should have read carefully whatever documentation was available for this software. Being on a roll, however, I selected the checkbox and proceeded to download the driver. Not surprisingly, I was told I needed to reboot to complete the installation. When I did so, I received two messages from Norton AntiVirus about missing files, then got the dreaded message “Windows protection error. You need to restart your computer.”
I am writing this item from my backup computer, as my primary machine still cannot boot to the desktop in other than safe mode. I tried many tricks either to resolve or diagnose the problem, but I am still unable to get past the Windows protection error. I have searched the Microsoft Knowledge Base—though not thoroughly—and called a 24-hour support service I thought might be able to help. I’m waiting for a call back from a second-level tech and have decided that it is not a good use of my time to continue troubleshooting on my own.
Windows Update is a great mechanism for keeping copies of Windows up-to-date, particularly by inexperienced users. It usually works flawlessly. I have seen it fail in various ways, however, though never as badly as this. I was even ready to switch to my backup Windows Registry, but I discovered that it does not exist. I am now ready—positively eager, even—to pay Microsoft to get me my computer running properly again. (The Sunday support hours do not begin until later today.) I will, however, make the case that Microsoft got me into this fix and should therefore get me out of it at their expense. Check back for updates.