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Office Update Problem after XP SP3 Install
Sunday, May 11, 2008

Last week I did a clean install of Windows XP Professional with SP2 on a new Dell desktop. This was because the machine came with Windows Vista, but the owner wanted XP due to some applications not working well under Vista.

Immediately after XP was working properly, I enabled Microsoft Update (ref. 1). Microsoft Update is an extension of Windows Update. The main improvement is that it enables updates for products other than just Windows (MS Office. e.g.). Next, I went to the Update web site (Internet Explorer -> Tools -> Windows Update) and searched for updates. Instead of the 90 or so updates that I normally see, I was presented with just one - Windows Service Pack 3 (SP3). This long-awaited Service Pack was finally available, and all previous Windows updates were now included.

I went ahead and installed it, and all went smoothly. It took about 20 minutes to install and required one reboot to complete. Next, I installed Office 2003, and went to Windows/Microsoft Update again (IE -> Tools -> Windows Update) and checked for updates. It found three available updates (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 - Available Updates

Figure 1 - Available Updates after Office 2003 install

The problem

This was all quite routine so far, but when I asked it to install the updates, I got the following dialog after less than a minute (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - The following updates were not installed:

Figure 2 - Some updates were not installed

I have seen problems with Microsoft Update before, but never quite this early after a clean install of XP. Obviously XP SP3 was to blame.

What did not work

As a first attempt, I cleared the SoftwareDistribution folder and tried again. Specifically:

  • Opened a command prompt window and typed "net stop wuauserv" (without quotes)
  • Renamed the downloads folder:
    "rename c:\windows\softwaredistribution c:\windows\badupdates"
  • Restarted the update service by typing "net start wuauserv"

I then attempted to install the same updates again by starting IE and Tools -> Windows Update, but the updates failed again in the same way.

The solution

The next thing I tried solved the problem. I re-registered the DLL's used by the Windows Update service. Specifically, I opened a command window (Start -> Run -> cmd -> OK), and typed the following commands, one at a time:

net stop wuauserv
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
net start wuauserv

[As pointed out by readers Nate and dino (see comments below), you can save time by just copying the above commands into a blank Notepad window, then save them to any place on your hard drive (e.g. on your desktop) as a file named fixupdates.bat (or any file name that ends in .bat). Then you can execute the commands all at once by just double-clicking on the saved .bat file.

The /s option with regsvr32 means "silent mode", else Windows displays a confirmation box as each DLL is registered.

As a convenience, I have created a file named fixupdates.bat (click here to download) containing the above commands, which you can save to your hard drive, then run it by double-clicking on the downloaded file.]

After this, when I tried the updates again via IE -> Tools -> Windows Update, everything worked as expected (Figs. 3 and 4).

Fig. 3 - Update in progress

Figure 3 - Update in progress

Fig. 4 - Updates installed

Figure 4 - Updates installed


Clearly, installing XP SP3 caused Microsoft Updates to malfunction. This problem should cause more than just Office updates to not be installed. In particular, XP3 causes certain DLL's needed by Windows Update to be un-registered. Registering a DLL means that an entry is created in the Registry for that DLL. This entry contains essential information about the DLL, such as the location of the DLL. If this is missing, then Windows Update cannot properly use that DLL, and the updates fail.

The regsvr32.exe utility is provided with all recent versions of Windows to allow you to manually register DLL's and other COM objects that are self-registrable (ref. 2).

The fact that this happened on a clean install of Win XP makes me think that this may happen on a lot of systems unless MS fixes SP3.

Note added June 30, 2008:

The number of comments I have received on this topic suggest that this problem is fairly widespread. Since I wrote the above, some other flaws and workarounds have been documented by others.

Some people have reported that the problem of updates not working after SP3 install can also be fixed by reinstalling the Windows Update Agent. If the above fix with registering the DLL's has not helped, then download the Update Agent (ref. 3) and install it as follows:

Click "Start", "Run", type: "C:\WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe /wuforce" (without quotes) and then press "Enter" to install the Windows Update engine.

A somewhat more sinister problem has been reported when SP3 is installed while Symantec Anti-virus is active, i.e. you do not first disable the realtime scanning by Symantec AV. This can result in serious damage to the Registry, anything from missing devices to lost network connections is possible (ref. 4). Microsoft has issued a patch to help fix this (ref. 5) though I have not heard how well it works once the damage is already done. If you happen to try this patch please let me know how successful it was.

Best thing is to disable Symantec or any other AV program before installing SP3, or installing any other software for that matter.

Note added Oct. 24, 2008:

A colleague (DY) recently tried to upgrade his XP system to SP3, but the upgrade terminated with an "Access Denied" message about half-way through. I recommended he disable the auto-protect option on his Symantec anti-virus program and then try reinstalling SP3, but this also ended in the same failure. After some frustration and web searching he found the problem - he had Webroot Spysweeper installed, and even though he had disabled it, it was interfering with the SP3 install. He finally had success after completely uninstalling Webroot Spysweeper, then disabling Symantec, then installing SP3. He later re-enabled Symantec but has decided to do without Spysweeper after this experience. The free Windows Defender is a perfectly adequate replacement in my opinion.

He reported an interesting side-effect. After everything seemed normal, he found he could no longer see anything in Device Manager, i.e. the window that normally shows the list of hardware was blank. Moreover, his scanner has stopped working.

I recommended that he try the patch from Microsoft (ref. 5) and happily that has solved both the Device Manager and Scanner problems.

The lesson here is that (a) Before installing SP3, disable any AV or anti-malware programs, and in case you have Webroot Spysweeper, uninstall it altogether and (b) In case the Device Manager shows blank afterwards and/or some devices no longer work, then try the patch from MS (ref. 5).


  1. Microsoft Update
  2. Explanation of Regsvr32
  3. Obtain the latest Update Agent
  4. PCs crippled by XP SP3 update
  5. Update for Windows XP (KB953979)

(in order from older to newest)

"Well - you are right - I've done approx 6 completely different systems, using an SP2 install CD, installing SP3 first up, then being unable to use windows update at all. What a dud!"

Mar. 17, 2008, 7:56 AM by Robert T.

"Great job on the solution. I noticed this about a month ago with the beta SP3 downloaded off of technet subscription but chalked it up to an early release issue."

Mar. 18, 2008, 10:54 AM by MZ.

"Thank you! Just purchased Dell laptop with XP Pro SP2. Installing XP SP3 created the problem you described. Your solution has resolved this problem. Irritated at Microsoft for releasing SP3 with this flaw. Grateful that you figured out a solution and posted it online for other unsuspecting (and less tech-savvy) victims such as myself."

Mar. 18, 2008, 6:09 PM by JK.

"Thanks for the tip. This was just the thing I needed. FYI, there's some explanation as to the cause here:"

May 19, 2008, 10:28 PM by ES.

"This did the trick for me -- Thank you very much!"

May 19, 2008, 11:02 PM by AFH.

"Ok, I'm french and I had the same problem with some updates: Windows media player 11 was impossible to get it by Microsoft update. I resolved the problem by downloading it in Microsoft but did not found the Updates for security updates KB941569,KB94786-4 etc... Now, I will try what you found for those and hope it will work. This info will be for me the only way. Thanks very much"

May 20, 2008, 3:37 AM by Pierre P.

"Thanks This solved the problem I also got."

May 20, 2008, 10:33 AM by Andre.

"I had not had any experience with SP3 until I reformatted and re-installed XP Pro on my sister's desktop PC. As stated above all was fine after the reinstall and then going straight to SP3 (skipping SP2) except that all subsequent updates failed. I followed this extremely useful information and that fixed the issue."

May 20, 2008, 1:23 PM by Matt R.

"I had this same problem, and spent hours trying different things on forums and blogs regarding this issue. These instructions resolved the problem and I am a happy camper again."

May 22, 2008, 12:38 PM by Booner.

"Thanks a lot for the solution! you have save my Windows XP SP3 installation ;o) It's work fine now. Good job and thanks again."

May 26, 2008, 2:13 PM by Raph.

"The above steps WORK, if you cannot install windows updates after installing xp sp3."

May 27, 2008, 6:19 PM by surfkahuna.

"Thank you for explaining the problem ^_^"

May 28, 2008, 12:12 AM by Klanarong.

"After 3 hours trying to fix the problem with no luck I luckily find this solution from google! Thanks a lot! You save me a lot of troubles from my boss =)"

May 29, 2008, 8:20 AM by Romel.

"Thank you for the solution to, hopefully, the last of many XP SP3 problems. All working now after SP3 automatic update caused the endless boot problem, then 5 unsuccessful re-installs of XP SP2 from recovery disks due to a corrupt hard disk. Eventually got XP and SP3 installed sucessfully to find windows update not working. Windows... Deep Joy..."

June 2, 2008, 3:47 PM by CC.

"That’s just crazy!"

June 3, 2008, 7:55 AM by Offshore Outsourcing.

"Many thanks - solved it!"

June 3, 2008, 8:15 AM by BC - Isle of Wight.

"Great job solving and explaining how to fix this bug. Thank you very much."

June 3, 2008, 8:45 AM by tolman.

"Great article. Phew!! you save my bacon. Cheers."

June 3, 2008, 1:49 PM by Niyi.

"Many thanks. I've spent (wasted) hours trying things suggested on other sites (including Microsoft's), but this worked first time."

June 3, 2008, 2:47 PM by PB.

"Thank u very much. I work in IT and I had this problem with many of my pc. Now I solved it to all of them. Thanks very very much!"

June 3, 2008, 5:11 PM by mpampir.

"Thanks for this! Same situation, clean XP SP2 install upgraded to SP3 and then MS Updates failed. Your solution solved the problem."

June 3, 2008, 9:55 PM by Louis D.

"GREAT JOB! I fought this for hours on end, unsuccessfully..."

June 6, 2008, 8:40 PM by Brandon D.

"Microsoft All-In-One 'virus detector' keep telling you need the update to be fully protected. So now what? is this the thanks I get for staying all the way under Microsoft?"

June 6, 2008, 9:17 PM by G V.

"Thank you man, this is a life saver!!!"

June 9, 2008, 12:10 PM by JS.

"For those who don't know this, and want a quicker way of doing this, follow the instructions below:

Open Notepad
Copy and paste:
net stop wuauserv
regsvr32 wuapi.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 wucltui.dll
regsvr32 wups2.dll
regsvr32 wups.dll
regsvr32 wuweb.dll
net start wuauserv
(without the ---'s)
Save as wufix.bat

Run the file (by double-clicking on it) and just click ok every time it says successfully updated."

June 10, 2008, 11:13 PM by Nate.

"This worked perfectly - thanks very much."

June 11, 2008, 10:15 AM by Bonsai Inspection Co.

"Wow can Microsoft think of any other updates to screw us up. Thanks for the fix."

June 11, 2008, 11:14 AM by southernboy.

"Will it also resolves the issue "Setup was unable to open information file setupqry.inf", an error pops-up on clicking "Windows Components" at Add/Remove programs. This also happens after installing SP3. Any comment on this will be appreciated."

June 12, 2008, 12:03 PM by John M.

"Lots of respect -- it worked after I spent few hours trying to find a solution. Thanks!"

June 12, 2008, 10:26 PM by GK.

"I'm having issues with IE not wanting to load ANY websites after updating XP with the latest updates. Any ideas? "

June 14, 2008, 9:31 PM by Amy.

"Try this:
 Launch Internet Explorer
 Click on Tools -> Internet Options
 Click on the Advanced Tab
 Click on the “Reset” button for “Reset Internet Explorer Settings”
 Exit IE then restart it and see if it works better
(If you can’t even launch IE to get to step 1 above, just click Start -> Run and type inetcpl.cpl in the blank Open field and click OK to get to the IE settings). "

June 14, 2008, 11:05 PM by rk.

"Thanks a bezillion - worked like a charm! "

June 15, 2008, 9:42 AM by joe camel.

"Great, great and great. You settled my nightmare."

June 16, 2008, 2:46 PM by Martin (Slovenia).

"Thanks for the fix...I've been messing around with it with no great now."

June 16, 2008, 5:10 PM by statik.

"Great stuff, worked like a charm. Keep up the good work!"

June 18, 2008, 6:55 AM by Kenneth.

"So nice to see your solution, I was almost ready to format my drive to reinstall XP SP2."

June 20, 2008, 2:05 PM by Pigcold.

"I had that same problem, I found if you look for additional updates instead of installing sp3 and install the windows updater 3.1 software then go back and install sp3 it installs like it's supposed to."

June 21, 2008, 8:29 AM by Jonathan.

"Unfortunately, I've tried doing this fix now three times (different variations suggested on various websites) and this has NOT worked for me. Any other ideas?"

June 21, 2008, 11:41 PM by AVA.

"Thanks for the simple and quick fix! I updated to SP3 on May 30th,and afterwards had the same problem. Microsoft's Troubleshooting Site was useless. Their so called solutions,were confusing and complicated. Whereas, your explanation ,and solution, was clear,and concise. I made the batch file,loaded it,went to updates,and Eureka!! they downloaded. Thanks Again!"

June 23, 2008, 7:38 PM by Jim.

"It worked for a while then stopped working."

June 24, 2008, 5:21 AM by SHAUN.

"Excellent! This really helped a lot, we've upgraded more than 100 computers and at least 75% had this problem. You might think that M$ would learn after the last time Microsoft Update was creating problems (windows installer took 100% CPU), but NO! They just keep on releasing “fixes” that causes as much problem as they solve….."

June 24, 2008, 6:51 AM by CIO.

"You can use this to avoid the annoying click "OK" boxes

Open Notepad
Copy and paste:
net stop wuauserv
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
net start wuauserv

June 24, 2008, 1:12 PM by dino.

"Excellent, thanks! That worked."

June 24, 2008, 10:04 PM by VJ.

"This works perfectly on XP Pro running on VMWARE on OSX 10.53 Great solution. Many thanks!"

June 25, 2008, 2:03 PM by Al.

"This solution works. Another Microsoft fix for the fix for the fix etc. When will they get their act together?"

June 26, 2008, 9:41 AM by Brad A.

"Two thumbs up and a high five to boot. I only wasted about 3 hours messin' with this update problem until I found this posting. Your fix was a piece of cake to do. Why oh why doesn't MS have this same fix directly on the front page of their update site? Why did I have to struggle first? Why did I have to perform so many different google searches on this problem before I got lucky with this posting? Good job "Basement Computing" and thanks a bunch."

June 29, 2008, 2:54 PM by John.

"Fixed it, thanks - its a good job Microsoft don't make aeroplanes, isn't it?"

July 1, 2008, 11:50 AM by Chris M.

"Thank you very much! I just bought a new dell laptop with XP Pro SP2. Soon as I updated to SP3 I could not install any windows updates. After 2 days of trying everything I could think of - your site helped fix the problem in less than 10 minutes."

July 23, 2008, 3:02 PM by Paul.

"Thanks so much - this has saved my bacon (not to mention my sanity)! Can't believe (or CAN belive) that MS have done nothing to resolve this officially."

Aug. 12, 2008, 9:57 AM by Steve.

"Thanks, that helped alot! I wish MS would fix these kind of problems quickly.."

Aug. 20, 2008, 11:48 AM by Fred.

"Thank you very much. I just spent all day trying to figure out what the problem was. I found this link in a few minutes with a Google search. Once again, Thanks!"

Sep. 10, 2008, 2:18 PM by Randy.

"All my Office 2007 Updates cannot be installed since I have downloaded SP3. Windows make the downloads correctly with information at the end that all updates are installed with succes, but finally they are not installed.

I'm on XP Professional, SP3, Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise.

Pls can you inform me on what link exactely I must click for correct this problem. (I cannot good understand all the diffrents explications. I speak french)"

Feb. 14, 2009, 11:45 AM by Recca

"Note for Recca (and anyone else who has a similar question):

Very sorry, I got away from the blog for a few months, and did not read the messages. The short answer to the problem is to click on the file named fixupdates.bat and let Windows XP run it. It runs the same commands as are explained above."

The file takes a few seconds to run, after which the Windows Updates should work fine.

May 6, 2009, 7:33 PM by rk

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