Sunday, January 8, 2012

Updates information not visible in Windows Vista

So here's a scenario: When using Windows Update in Windows Vista, and the Windows Update front page shows an x number of critical updates and an x number of regular updates, and you click on either of them, the detailed updates listing is all blank; a user doesn't know then which updates should he choose (or not) to download and install.

The specimen in question was Windows Vista Home Basic Service Pack 2 in a Dell Studio 1535 notebook.

I tried and searched for many solutions, and somehow got the thing to work normally again, but I can't exactly put a finger on what it is that I did, partly because I was too lazy to restart after every move or document too diligently. #tired

Assuming everything else is more or less in order, then —

Services started in-between:
1. COM+ System Application, but didn't set it to start automatically.
2. Microsoft .NET Framework NGEN v2.0.50727_X86 (Delayed Start).
I had read somewhere that in Windows Vista, Windows Update for some reason required .NET Framework 2.0 to run.
So, if memory serves me correctly, I did install it one day, but at the time it didn't yield the required effect and I had to let it be...
And yes, there were regsvr32 things started and re-started from the command line, but that didn't quite help.

After a few hours of searching for a solution, with many a discussion thread suggesting starting and stopping services, registering and unregistering system files, I stumbled upon a set of suggestions that matched the conditions that I had. See the forum thread here.

Since there was a match in error conditions registering Windows Update files, I was confident about the solution as much as the tech guys were on the forum.

So the solution was to run

SFC /scannow

in a Command Prompt window run as Administrator. If you decide to do the same, then beforehand, create a system restore point or rely on a very recent one, for example one made just a few days ago.

SFC is the System File Checker command-line tool and its variant in modern Windows versions checks protected Windows system files against tampering and replaces those it that appear to be wrong.

I ran the tool, it took its while, but then it finished.
I also got to check out its logs (requires administrator mode to view in WordPad) and separated the most recent check into a new file for the sake of posterity. I couldn't see any substantial errors when changing files over, but there was a lot of movement going on.

Then did a restart, and lo and behold, details about individual updates in Windows Update were visible again! Yay!

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