A flustered Microsoft posts Windows Update trick

Virginia culler By Virginia Culler

Our Sept. 27 story on problems caused by Windows Update’s stealth installs was widely circulated by other news sites.

In the wake of the media coverage and user complaints, Microsoft quickly cobbled together a response that confirms the problem and provides a manual fix.

Microsoft scrambles to respond to negative press

Associate editor Scott Dunn’s lead story last week broke the news that executable files recently installed silently by Windows Update actually prevent further updates from working in some cases. Windows XP users who run the “repair” option from a CD-ROM of the operating system find that all security patches subsequently fail to install.

Many blogs and computer industry publications picked up on the trail. Several sources conducted their own tests and verified Scott’s findings. ZDNet confirmed that Windows Update does not repair itself in this problematic scenario, apparently no matter how long it’s left alone. Computerworld also released an article confirming the story.

In response to the flurry of comments, complaints, and criticisms, Microsoft jumped into action. Windows Update program manager Nate Clinton assembled a blog post, which went live at 2:11 a.m. Pacific Time the day after our newsletter went out. His report confirmed the problem, outlined a solution, and promised that a Knowledge Base (KB) article would be posted soon.

That article, KB 943144, appeared later that day. In addition to repeating the repair steps from Clinton’s blog, the piece discusses the source of the problem, indirectly admitting that the stealth update was at fault:

  • “The latest version of Windows Update includes a file that was not available in the release version of Windows XP. This file is named Wups2.dll. … Because the registry files that correspond to the Wups2.dll file are missing, update installations are unsuccessful.”
Redmond identifies one DLL as the source of the problem

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-10-04: