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MS says: do not rely on Windows Update History maintenance

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Old 12-10-2007

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MS says: do not rely on Windows Update History
I have just finished a lengthy and pleasant call with MS technical support -
at their cost I am happy to say.

The issues concerned the installation problems surrounding KB938979 and a
"Solution" which stated neither what the problem was *nor* the solution (no
link... no KB#, nothing) - and some general update stuff.

The key point to note is that the agent I spoke to said (and I had her
repeat it just so that I was completely clear about it)

******* The status of "Successful" in Windows Update/Update History is not
reliable; refer to Programs/Installed Updates to see what updates are
actually installed. ********

The Windows Update "history" is derived purely from the contents of the
SoftwareUpdates folder and not linked to Programs/... etc., thus even when
SoftwareDistribution is working correctly/uncorrupted, Windows Update may
think something has installed successfully when it hasn't; this happens if
the appropriate changes from an update don't actually make it to the
registry, in which case Windows Update will incorrectly report the status as
Successful. I wasn't quite able to work out how, if an update failed and
Windows Update is responsible for refetching/reapplying/etc., how such a
failed update reported as a Success would be corrected.

I wasn't able to get to the bottom of the KB938979 issue - it is installed
and apparently has been for some time now - but why it reported itself as
"not valid" for my system rather than "already installed" remains unclear;
however, the fact that I was offered the update by Problems and Solutions
probably relates to the fact that it seems to work in blissful ignorance of
the rest of the system: it appears (must stress that) that "Problems and
Solutions" does not "close the loop", i.e. even if you re-submit and refresh
the list of problems you may be offered solutions *that are in fact already
installed* (suggested that if not already done it would be a nice thing to
fix in SP1).

With regard to the "Solution" without details...

This agent was confused to hear that it said "Download and install the
driver for Windows Vista" because "Microsoft does not do drivers" (I begged
to differ and moved on...)

Because the label on the problem listed under "Information about Other
Problems" (on the "Solve Problems on Your Computer" page of "Problem and
Solutions") is merely "Follow these steps to solve the problem with Windows
Vista", and the "Solution" is effectively null (and "Related Problems"...
related to the "Solution" that is) are all WIndows Explorer "Stopped
Working" problems (I skipped the debugging detail) we still have no idea
whether a) there is still a problem to be fixed or b) whether it has already
been fixed.

On the plus side though, it was also nice to be told that if I can see my
desktop "there is no problem with Windows Explorer" and SP1 will sort
everything out anyway, soon.

Must confess that in the light of this I am not quite sure what the purpose
of Windows Update History is (and mine's been reset by the
SoftwareDistribution clean-out so its a rather Brief History anyway). Must
have imagined the Windows Explorer crashes too...

Hope this saves someone from unnecessary meddling with their
SoftwareDistribution folder and confusion over what updates are actually

Julian I-Do-Stuff

Some Vista stuff, but mostly just Stuff at http://berossus,

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