I have run across an issue that I have not been able to gain insight into (and I've solved some obscure issues over the years). I am seeking others who have seen this issue and/or can provide insight into how to proceed.

I have ~50 WindowsXP Pro SP2 systems at various locations that I've maintained for several years in a relatively uniform manner. After applying Microsoft's November patches, started noticing the following behavior on a subset of these system, so far I cannot establish any pattern or useful insight.

The behavior manifests itself by very slow logon after a reboot. My investigation so far indicates that the issue is that all available memory (physical and swap) is slowly allocated, during this time the system will be unbearably slow. After some point, when it looks like all memory will be consumed, memory starts being released. Eventually allocated memory returns to a 'normal' level and the system resumes normal operations/responsiveness until the next reboot.

Using the task manager, I can see that the issue is occuring in a child process of Services. In some cases, disabling the Java Quick Starter is enough to resolve the issue. On other systems, have not been able to track down specifically which service is consuming the memory. The systems are already running with a bare minimum of services enabled, if I could narrow it to a specific service it would be a critical service which I could not turn off.

The above behavior seems to be caused by the logon. That is if I reboot a system, it does not seem to matter if I wait minutes or hours, when I logon and start the task manager as quickly as I can, memory is close to normal and being allocated as above. Not clear to me how a logon interacts with Services that might trigger this behavior.

I have found that uninstalling KB976749 on some of the systems can elivate the issue, but this is not consistent and applying December's patches brings the issue back on these systems.