Secret Update Breaks Windows Update

Dennis Faas's picture

A stealth update deviously deployed in July and August by Microsoft without user permission has broken Windows Update, preventing updates from being installed after a "repair" of Windows XP is performed. The problem was first reported by Scott Dunn from Windows Secrets, then confirmed by ZDNet.

Originally thought to be harmless, the recent download of new support files, known as version 7.0.600.381 for Windows Update, prevents Windows XP users who perform repair installations from a genuine XP CD-ROM (not an OEM restore CD), from installing at least 80 updates and patches from Microsoft.

The repair option lets XP users roll many of XPs basic files back to a pristine state. It's often used when XP becomes unbootable for various reasons. Once the files are repaired (reinstalled), it wipes out numerous updates and patches, and restores Internet Explorer back to the version that originally shipped with the operating system (OS).

Once repaired, users can easily download and install the latest updates and patches, or set Automatic Updates to do it for them.

Repaired XP installations prevent DLL registration

Now, after using the repair option from an XP CD-ROM, Windows Update downloads and installs the files that created the problem in the first place, version 7.0.600.381 executable files. Some of the Windows Update files aren't registered with the OS, so it prevents Windows Update from updating, preventing the 80 or more updates and patches from installing, even if Automatic Updates successfully downloaded all the updates to the PC.

Beginning in July, it becomes impossible for Windows users to install updates without installing the problematic version of the files beforehand. Windows Secrets attributes the problem to seven of the DLLs (dynamic link library files) used by Windows Update failing to register with the OS. If files of the same name had previously been registered, as was previously the case when Windows Update upgraded itself, the new DLL files were registered, too. A "repaired" copy of XP hasn't registered the files yet so it prevents updates from being installed.

Still no acknowledgement from Microsoft

Installer programs usually register DLLs during installation. Unlike previous Windows Update upgrades, no link to an installer or downloadable version fo 7.0.600.381 currently exists, nor is a Knowledge Base (KB) article available to explain the new version. Since there is no KB on the mysterious update (or links that usually appear with them), it's impossible to run an installer to see if that would correct the registration problem.

One possible fix recommended by Windows Secret is to install an older version of the Windows Update files (dowloadable from Step 2 of Microsoft Knowledge Base article 927891) over the newer version. That will involve launching the installer from a command line using a /wuforce switch.

That will correct the DLL registration problem, but you'll have to accept the stealth update again before you can get any updates. Since the /wuforce procedure solves the problem, it seems to suggest that the installer for the stealth update is the source of the problem.

How to manually register the files

You can manually register the missing DLLs yourself entering seven commands (see step 2 below) at a command prompt. Administrators needing to fix multiple machines may find it easier to use a batch file, as explained by Steps 1 through 5 below:

  • Step 1. Open Notepad (or any other text editor).
  • Step 2. Copy and paste the following command lines into the Notepad window (the /s switch runs the commands silently so you don't have to press Enter after each line):
  • regsvr32 /s wuapi.dll regsvr32 /s wuaueng1.dll regsvr32 /s wuaueng.dll regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll regsvr32 /s wups2.dll regsvr32 /s wups.dll regsvr32 /s wuweb.dll
  • Step 3. Save the file to your desktop with whatever name you want, using a .bat or .cmd extension.
  • Step 4. Double-click the icon of the .bat or .cmd file.
  • Step 5. A command window will open, run the commands, and then close.

Once you run the commands or the batch file you should be able to visit the Windows Updates site and not have any problem installing the latest patches.

Systems Administrators responsible for maintaining multiple machines using Windows XP usually always want to review any updates before they install them to avoid software conflicts such as this one. Instead of trying to absolve themselves from blame and responsibility, Microsoft needs to correct the problem, explain what happened, and prevent it from happening in the future.

Links to the original article, information on performing a repair installation in Windows XP and how the Regsvr32 command works can be found below:

  • Stealth Windows update prevents XP repair from WindowsSecrets.
  • Microsoft Stealth Update and Windows XP repair don't mix article from ZDNet.
  • How to Perform a Windows XP Repair Install from Michael Stevens, Microsoft MVP.
  • Microsoft Windows XP -- Regsvr32 documentation from Microsoft.
  • Knowledge Base article 249873: Explanation of Regsvr32 Usage and Error Messages from Microsoft.
  • Microsoft Knowledge Base article 927891: You receive an access violation error and the system may appear to become unresponsive when you try to install an update from Windows Update or from Microsoft Update.

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