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Solving a Conflict between USB Keyboard/Mouse and Windows XP

Posted on 2009-05-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Many new computers now come without PS/2 jacks for keyboard and mouse; USB is the only type supported.  But, if you try to do a Repair Install of XP, (or change from a dead PS/2 device to a new USB device) you're stuck in a Microsoft-created conflict:

A.  The XP install process is trying to install USB Keyboard and Mouse support ("New device" found), but...

B.  The device driver installer requires keyboard and/or mouse input to proceed.

So, the customer is stuck:  No Keyboard or Mouse, and no way to install them because a Keyboard or Mouse are required to click on the various buttons on the screen that enable device driver installation.

So far, the only solution I've found is to plug the keyboard and mouse into specific, known USB sockets, get them recognised by the O.S. while it's still operating (albeit with two keyboards and/or mice) then do the repair install, 'cause they're already recognized.  (Incidentally, the keyboard and mouse have to be plugged into EXACTLY the same sockets in which they were originally installed; if you move them around, the problem recurs.)

But, if the system has crashed, taking any USB keyboard or mouse with it (or you can't remember which sockets they were originally installed to), you're stuck:  You can't use the USB keyboard/mouse to install the required USB keyboard/mouse drivers.

Has anyone figured out a way around this dilemma?

(Incidentally, this has nothing to do--insofar as I've been able to determine--with BIOS configuration; I can, for example, successfully boot from a CD from Acronis (based on Linux), and any PS/2 and/or USB keyboard mice are detected; these seems to be a Microsoft oversight in Windows XP, leaving this dilemma.)
Question by:CAOgdin
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Expert Comment

ID: 24351290
In most BIOSes there should be a "USB Legacy Support" mode that will cause the BIOS to trick Windows into thinking the USB keyboard and mouse are PS/2. Try checking if it's enabled in the BIOS.

LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 24352056
can you load the usb drivers with the F6 option ?

Expert Comment

ID: 24354246
Is this happening during the install process or once XP loads afterwards. Is this XP, XPsp2, or XPsp3?
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Author Comment

ID: 24355062
To marsilies:  As I described, I have confirmed all the BIOS settings, the USB mouse/keyboard work from boot-up, and with non-Windows operating systems.  I believe that isolates the issue to Windows itself, which has USB drivers that were developed before USB-only Keyboard/Mouse systems were being shipped by vendors.

To nobus:  I have tried it with F6, but there are three tiers of drivers that must be specified for a USB device (USB Drivers, HID drivers and one specific to the device to do the emulation.  I've not found any documentation that defines what those requisite device drivers are.

To sfarazmand:  It happens with XP Professional original, SP1, SP2 and SP3; it appears to be a design flaw, not just a software version issue.  The problem occurs at anytime a new USB keyboard or mouse is recognized and when there is no other keyboard and/or mouse yet installed.  That can happen, for example, when a customer moves a computer with USB-only mouse and keyboard to a new location, but does not bring along the keyboard and mouse that worked.  It can happen when Windows is installing (or when reinstalling after sysprep), and, at the "Installing Drivers" stage it removes all references to existing keyboard/mouse devices to install drivers afresh.  At that point, the person doing the install is faced with this dilemma:  There is no keyboard/mouse installed, and the driver installation process demands input from keyboard/mouse.  (One would think, in a well-designed system, that when the USB keyboard/mouse are recognized, the GUI would not even appear, so no demands for keyboard/mouse input would be presented to the user.)


Accepted Solution

sfarazmand earned 500 total points
ID: 24355451
Ok, Thanks. I ran into this issue while using KVMs, imaging machines, etc. What worked for me was to boot without keyboard or mouse, then plug in the keyboard and mouse and wait couple minutes (this sometimes worked). I then reboot the machines with everything plugged in. I wait a couple minutes and (if still not working) move the connections to another port and wait a couple minutes then move them back.  That normally resolved the issue. It's a pain, but was the only way it seemed to work.

Author Comment

ID: 24356610
Hmmm.  That's a cleverl solution I'd never thought of.  I've got the likelihood of having to try this on an repair install in the next few days.  But, isn't the problem just being deferred?

I've got one client with a desktop computer they brought in from their vacation home (the Dell system is USB-only, but they didn't bring home the keyboard or mouse), and we've tried a different USB keyboard and mouse...with the same problem (officially called the "Deadly Embrace" by Edsger Dijkstra:  A can't complete 'til B is done while B can't complete 'til A is done).   I don't think this will work, because it will expect a keyboard and mouse to exist to be able to get past the "installing device drivers" dialog.  However, that having been said, I'll try it later today and report as soon as I have some experience to report.  Thanks for the idea.

Expert Comment

ID: 24357540
The problem is still there I have not found a way to resolve it on the Dell Machines we have so I just use that as a fix. It actually takes less time to do that than to try anything else (if it works for you).

Author Comment

ID: 24407479
Thanks for that solution; it's worked two times out of four with me in the past several days.  When the device has previously been installed, it finds the previously-installed drivers in response to having the USB device plugged in.  But, when only a PS/2 keyboard or mouse has ever been previously installed, we're back to the same "deadly embrace."

As a workaround, I'm now keep a particular keyboard and mouse, labelled as my "Reference" devices, and I have a practice of putting the keyboard in the USB socket nearest the LAN connector, and the mouse in the very next USB socket.  Before I ship any computer to a client, I install those two devices, so I can rely on them in the future, if I have to service the computer later.

So, a partial solution, and a workaround, but no definitive solution (yet).  If, after this issue is closed, and somebody finds a better (and more comprehensive) solution, please send me an eMail at caogdin (at) gmail (doc) com

Expert Comment

ID: 30116533
I am having the exact same issue with both Windows XP and Server 2003 machines. I still have not found a fix. Any help would be apprecaited.

Author Comment

ID: 30117592
First, be patient:  If you plug in the USB Keyboard and Mouse (be sure to use USB ports on the motherboard), boot-up, and wait about 15 minutes, you may find that--in the background--Windows has actually found and installed the devices (or at least one of them), and you can press the Windows key or wiggle the mouse and get a reaction.

If that doesn't work, while the computer is still running, unplug the K & M, wait about a minute, and plug them back in.  Again, wait 10-15 minutes, and you find they've been recognized in the background.

Finally, if you just HAVE to get this system running, perform a "Repair Install" of Windows.  Launch from a CD, your K & M will work; choose the option to Install, and when given the option, choose to REPAIR the found WIndows installation.  That will get you a full set of drivers rebuilt, including the K & M.

Expert Comment

ID: 30123825
Thanks CAOqdin but the problem is there is no keyboard or mouse avaliable. You can unplug the devices and let the machines sit for days with no changes. You can not clear the pop up warning box in the back ground. While I can enable remote desktop and solve the problem. When the machines are shipped to customers it is hard to explain that your new machine needs to be repaired. I will try your tricks again and see what happens.


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