Microsoft has confirmed that Windows XP users who repair the operating system cannot update their PCs with the latest patches because of a file included with the stealth update pushed out to machines this summer.

“When an XP repair CD is used, it replaces all system files (including Windows Update) on your machine with older versions of those files and restores the registry,” said Nate Clinton, program manager for Windows Update (WU), in a post to the Microsoft company blog dedicated to the update service. “However, the latest version of Windows Update includes ‘wups2.dll’ that was not originally present in Windows XP. Therefore, after the repair install of the OS, wups2.dll remains on the system, but its registry entries are missing. This mismatch causes updates to fail installation.”

The Windows Secrets newsletter reported the patch installation failures after tests on Windows XP machines that had been restored by an in-place reinstall. The root of the problem, said the publication, is that seven DLLs from the latest revision to WU — not just one — failed to register themselves with XP. Microsoft could not provide an explanation for the discrepancy between the claims.

John noted this in yesterday’s Tech5 podcast. Thought I’d provide a source with additional detail.

I have to wonder about a company with programming and R&D staff the size of Microsoft – and no one tested for something like this? Should be part of software design 101. Or was it deliberate?

  1. Milo says:

    A friend of mine couldn’t get WMP to rip a CD. Windows gave him an error message. When I clicked on the help on the web button M$’s web page said they didn’t know anything about this error. With a quick Google of the error code I found a chat room where a couple of teenagers had solved the problem and it wasn’t a solution that required any special knowledge. I’m sure M$’s response to this will be to no longer give a code number for the error!

  2. ikelleigh says:

    This exact thing happened to me last weekend when repairing a Windows XP install.

    I found this support page at MS:

    Which allowed me to download and install the 76 security updates I needed after the repair.

  3. Phillep says:

    Milo: Punch line of an old joke: “I knew it was the Microsoft building because the answer was technically correct, and totally useless.”

    MS wants to kill XP in order to force the present XP users to pay a fee for VISTA. This is just the first shot. There will be more.

  4. Robertson says:

    Microsoft has posted a KB article about this issue at

    There is also a Microsoft Blog Post at

    And contrary to the above article it only requires the registration of one dll to fix this issue.

  5. gquaglia says:

    Just the first of the steps M$ will be using to get rid of XP once and for all. I’m sure they will be recomending Vista to solve this problem.

  6. Mike Strong says:

    I am currently totally re-writing an online Access course I teach because of the changes with Office 2007 (from 2003). Most of the changes merely add overhead without changing most of the basic engine underneath. On top of that most of the menue system has been replaced with tabbed toolbars – very inefficient by comparison and not at all welcome.

    Once I got the new interface figured out at first I thought that some new crop of managers must have been trying to justify their hire (or promotion) by making mostly worthless changes to a functioning suite of programs.

    On further reflection, this looks a lot like a new crop of programmers who don’t understand the core code so they are diddling around with code on the outside (interface) just to produce something. The few items I’ve spotted which are improvements in function seem to be only half thought out.

    For example, the import function used to require that you closed any table you were importing to or it didn’t work, and didn’t tell you until well into the process. Now it tells you with a dialog asking whether you want to close the table. When you click ok Access closes your table and does the import. Why even bother to ask. Just close the darn table. Keep a bookmark and re-open it after if you need. It took 16 years to get this change and they do it half-ass.

    Then there is the 65535 error in Excel – any multiplication which should result in 65535 shows 100000.

    All this says to me they just don’t have core expertise left, at least not in numbers and position to really make software work. They need fewer programmers, the ones who actually understand the code which has been working for the 25+ years. Then they need to kill all the lawyers (not an original thought, with apologies to Will S.)

  7. TVAddict says:

    This happened to me after repairing an XP installation. I had to register 6 or 7 dlls before I could get the updates that I was missing. The MS update page pointed me in the right direction.

  8. gquaglia says:

    #6 Wow, you’re smart. Did you really have to post 6 paragraphs to try and impress us.

  9. James Hill says:

    It isn’t a question of testing, it’s a question of architecture. Who would design a system that could fail based on a reference to a file missing, even when the file is present?

    Oh, wait. I know the answer. You do, too. And the companies bloated mindset and translated into code so bloated problems like this will continue, regardless of if its the old OS (XP) or the new OS (Vista).

    While I try my best not to go too far down the Apple worship path, I will say that OS X doesn’t have this problem: Apple does a much better job of managing its Software Update application, and is about to open it to third parties.

    Why M$ didn’t steal this model outright is beyond me. No one would have complained.

  10. paddler says:

    It’s not just repairs that are broken. We upgraded some Windows 2000 PCs to XP and the exact same thing happened. It downloaded all the updates but refused to install them. I thought only XP got the stealth updates so apparently they are still sending them out because all these PCs were running 2000.

    We were going nuts trying to figure out what was wrong. Its hard to effectively support this OS when MS makes changes like this without permission and so nobody knows it took place.

    Talk about the gang that couldn’t code straight…

  11. Enesi says:

    I felt bad about Microsoft. Microsoft is treating the customer like a criminal until proven innocent. While they trying to catch the few bad guys, they make million of innocent customer complain. Does catching the few bad guys worth all that money over million of customer?


  12. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    Catch bad guys? Not know what they’re doing? Cheezus.

    Some people have to be reminded, apparently, that M$ spends most the the money they do spend on slick marketing – and lawyers, both to figure out the safest, most lucrative ways to steal IP from little people and companies who can’t afford to fight back and to make everything that goes wrong both the customers’ responsibility and the customers’ fault.

    Programmers, at M$, are a cost center they are constantly seeking ways to rid themselves of. And they’re always working to make their blunders into things they can blame the user for – and then expect to be paid to fix them!

    “It was always that way. And even if it wasn’t it is now. And we never said that doing what we tell you to do would actually fix your problem. And if you’ve found a way to fix that problem and we find out about it, we’ll break it, too. Etc, etc………..”

    All that horseshit is a lot easier and a lot more lucrative – when you got millions of sheeple hoodwinked into believing you’re the only game in town – than actually devoting skilled (expensive) personnel to making things work as advertised.

    A billions-of-dollars industry created just to bilk users for fixing things that they’re too computer-illiterate to understand are not their fault, but Microsoft’s (deliberate) doing.

    Start of a typical call to M$ tech support, over something that M$ fucked up: “Uh, hi. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but when I do such-and-such, I get this…” and so on…

    It’s a hoot.

  13. Greymoon says:

    Just get XP service pack 2 use Firefox and turn that other bullshit off. This will negate attempted Microsoft sabotage. This method will not support migratory tactics to Vista fortunately.

  14. bill says:

    Eventually, everyone running XP will be sent to prison.
    And you get what you deserve also.
    This is all part of a plot to wipe out the human race.

  15. ECA says:

    Want to know an Easy way to MESS UP windows?
    Send an update to DX9.0c…
    Mess with the codecs…BAM its gone.

  16. I did something similar as a suggestion by #14 as soon as I learned about this couple days ago. I returned WU software to the previous (vs. the stealth update) condition (easy to do) and disabled any future updates/notifications.
    Yes, I risk some yet unpatched bug but I perceive MS tampering with my PC to be much more dangerous. I don’t buy “lack of core experts” or mistake. Vista is not doing well and suddenly there is a covert update for XP with a problem… My opinion: MS testing water for future “unintentional” XP mess-up to heard unwilling to Vista.

  17. ECA says:

    Unpatched Bug…
    After ? years? wouldnt you think that ALL the patches needed WOULD BE THERE??

  18. Angel H. Wong says:


    “While I try my best not to go too far down the Apple worship path, I will say that OS X doesn’t have this problem: Apple does a much better job of managing its Software Update application, and is about to open it to third parties.”

    Yep, ’cause every time you upgrade their precious OSX you have to buy back all your precious extra expensive applications.

  19. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    Keep repeating that, Angel. It’s pure bullshit, but keep repeating it. Maybe someone other than pedro’ll believe it. You can always hope. 😉

  20. Greymoon says:

    Vote for Pedro.

  21. Thomas says:

    Yes, stealth update like this can disrupt your life when you least expect it.

    This is the reason I turn off automatic update, I just can stand being
    disrupted with in the middle of something

  22. Don says:

    I think the morons in Redmond just did not think of this in their testing procedures. They only had 1 million other situations to test before releasing the patch that caused the problem.

    As the Winblows code, and Mac code, continues to bloat out, you will continue to see issues like this over time. Just look at Firefox lately. As they add more functions, and their user base has increased, more bugs pop up.

    Now, is it possible that this was a deliberate attempt to trash XP? You bet.

    Mark my words, MS will continue to release patches that cause problems for XP.


  23. tallwookie says:

    who actually uses Windows Update anyway? I havent used it in years. In fact Its the first thing I disable before then disabling about 85% of the Services.

    if you do use it, make a *.bat file & drop these commands in it. run the batch file & then then go run WU

    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

    Enjoy 😉


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