Crazy tech support advice: Upgrade XP to Vista

One reader (wisely) doubts the advice he received from Lenovo tech support when BSODs suggested an XP Pro ThinkPad wasn't SP3 compatible

Gripe Line reader Michael wrote in to express reservations about Lenovo ThinkPad T Series laptop recommendations he has made to several people, thanks to some very strange advice he recently received from Lenovo tech support.

"Lenovo has a good reputation," Michael explains. "And the T Series ThinkPads have gotten rave reviews. These units also have the advantage of being available with Windows XP Pro."

[ Also on InfoWorld, a reader encounters some surprises with tech support in "Sony support: From free to fee in 15 minutes." | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

But one unit that had been purchased on his recommendation became unstable only a few months later.

"It would frequently get a Blue Screen of Death," he says. His worries started when he got on the phone with Lenovo tech support over the issue.

"We were told that the T series isn't compatible with XP Service Pack 3," Michael says. "The only recommendation tech support could offer was to re-install XP, and stop at Service Pack 2."

Crazy advice? Michael thought so. "We were told that the drivers, in particular the video drivers, weren't compatible with SP3. But the competence of the support people I spoke to was so poor I don't know whether to believe it. One of these people even told me that Vista was superior to XP because it didn't need Service Pack 3."

Michael asked to speak to a supervisor -- or someone with better information -- and was told someone would call him back.

While waiting, he wrote to the Gripe Line.

"We're still waiting for further callbacks," he wrote. "But we've gotten the same information from two Lenovo service centers. Service Pack 3 was released in May of 2008; all of these systems were purchased after that; and none came with any notice that they were not fully compatible with Windows XP."

I forwarded Michael's letter -- repeatedly -- to Lenovo but have still not received a response. I did find what appears to be a reference to this problem, though, in the Lenovo online support center. There, the advice is much more reasonable: "Upgrade ThinkVantage System Update to a version newer than 3.10.0007." It offers a link to the necessary download.

Four weeks after his original letter, Michael got a response stating that these ThinkPads have no incompatibility problem with XP Service Pack 3. He was offered a higher-level tech support call but hasn't yet had time to take advantage of that offer.

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This story, "Crazy tech support advice: Upgrade XP to Vista," was originally published at