Stealth Updates Continue To Plague Microsoft

Microsoft continues to get itself into trouble with "stealth" or silent updates. This time, the issue is over a silent update the company broadly distributed in July and August that's apparently restraining Windows XP's repair feature from fully carrying out its task.

According to today's Windows Secrets Newsletter, since the silent download of new support files for Windows Update, the Windows XP repair function is unable to install the last 80 patches from Microsoft.

Apparently, the trouble surfaces when users reinstall Windows XP's system files using the repair capability contained on the XP CD. At this point, the repair option, which is mostly used when XP becomes unbootable, rolls "many aspects" of XP back to a pristine state. In the process, it blows away many updates and patches and kicks Internet Explorer back to the version that originally shipped with the OS.

Typically, users who repair XP can simply download and install the latest updates, using either Automatic Updates control panel or going to Microsoft's Windows Update site. But once you run the repair option from the CD, Automatic Updates defaults to "on" and the new 7.0.600.381 executables are automatically downloaded and installed. According to the report, these new executables will not register themselves with the OS, thereby preventing Windows Update from working. This then prevents the 80 updates from being installed.

While everyday users rarely attempt a repair install, the flaw figures to be a constant irritant to a lot of admins who frequently have to repair Windows. However, the report states that if Windows Update refuses to install patches, admins can register the missing DLLs by manually entering the necessary commands at the command prompt.

Posted by Ed Scannell on September 27, 2007


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