Recently, I wrote about a wonderful Windows XP repair utility called Dial-a-fix , which I used to repair a serious Windows Update problem on a client's system. For those of you just tuning in, the system had over 70 updates waiting in the wings that simply wouldn't install after I ran a repair installation of Windows XP. Dial-a-fix solved the problem in mere moments, putting Windows Update back to work installing vital security patches and updates. I was happy, but I wondered exactly what had gone wrong with Windows Update...
It turns out that the problem is related to Windows Update patches that Microsoft issued back in July and August for Windows XP. These patches (known as version 7.0.600.381 ) were installed not only on systems that used the default automatic installation setting, but also on systems that were configured to download but not install updates and even on systems that were configured only to check for updates! According to ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes , the only systems unaffected are those configured never to check for updates.
Privacy mavens griped, but the Microsoft PR department went to work to persuade us it was in everyone's best interest to keep Windows Update up to speed. Frankly, it didn't seem like a big deal - until it was time to perform a repair installation of Windows XP.
The problem with Windows Update is caused by a problem with the installer for the .381 update, which fails to register seven .DLL files with the operating system. Windows Secrets provides a script you can use to register the files; it's also available from ZDNet , but there's an easier way: use Dial-a-fix and select the option to repair Windows Update. Dial-a-fix reregisters the .DLL files used by Windows Update.
Windows Update is critical to the safe operation of Windows-based systems. It's vital that Microsoft make sure it covers all the bases before it rolls out the next update to Windows Update. Some may suggest that repair installations are a rare occurence, but it's been one of the best ways to straighten out a bad system. Ironically, in this case a repair installation just makes matters worse.
Mark Soper teams up with technology legend Leo Laporte to solve problems with your Windows XP SP2-based computer's hardware, software, and accessories in Leo Laporte's PC Help Desk , available at Amazon.com and other fine bookstores.