We’ve stumbled upon a relatively new issue while doing fresh installs of Windows XP with Service Pack 3. As most of us know, Microsoft is going to completely stop XP support coming April 8th 2014. Well no surprise, ahead of schedule Microsoft managed to create issues with Windows XP SP3 Automatic Updates. In simple terms, after doing a brand new installation of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 you’ll receive errors trying to install Windows Updates. I’ve spent the good part of a week trying to figure out how to fix this issue in a timely manner. After a couple days of frustration and research on the Internet I was able to find nothing but small clues as to how I can fix this issue. My first round of success involved running a Microsoft Fixit solution which repaired the original error received from the Microsoft Update website. Although the error was now gone, I still had an issue with Microsoft’s Update website continuously looping with out going anywhere. Eventually Automatic Updates would kick in allowing me to install updates. This process took a very long time and required me to baby sit the install process. Obviously not a good enough solution when I have customers to keep happy. After so many updates finally pushed through I was able to successfully use Microsoft Windows Updates as normal once again. Directing me in the direction of finding out what updates need to be installed to fix the issue at hand. I have found all the necessary updates needed to be installed and will provide you with the steps I used to fix this issue.
Windows XP SP3 Update Issue.
After doing a fresh installation of Windows XP with Service Pack 3, you are getting:
- An error trying to run windows updates.
- Continuous looping while trying to find updates on Microsoft’s Update website.
Another related issue I found while trying to fix Windows Updates was the svchost.exe taking up 99% of the CPU issue caused by a bug with Automatic updates. I’ll provide some brief information on this issue also.
How to fix the Update Issue.
There are multiple ways to fix this issue, after about a half dozen fresh installs I believe I’ve found the most efficient way to fix it and get you back to downloading your updates. If you’ve found a better or more efficient way to fix the issue then please feel free to comment and share your steps on resolving the issue at hand.
First lets prepare the updates you’ll need to download to fix your update issue. I’ll go ahead and provide you with the links below.
- Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- Internet Explorer 8
- Update for Windows XP (KB927891)
- Windows Update Agent 3.0
- Security Update for Windows XP (KB2510531)
- Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP (KB2797052)
- Security Update for Internet Explorer for Windows XP (KB2799329)
- Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows XP (KB2898785)
Installing the Updates.
I recommend installing the updates in order; some updates are required to be installed before you can move on to the next update.
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
The First update you’ll install is Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. Accept the agreement and press next until it starts installing. This update can take some time to install so please be patient.
Internet Explorer 8
The next update you’ll install is Internet Explorer 8. Most fresh installs of Windows XP SP3 come with Internet Explorer 6 by default. You’ll need to make sure you “uncheck” install updates as searching for updates is still non functional at this point in time. I suggest you reboot your PC after the installation of Internet Explorer 8.
Update for Windows XP (KB927891)
This is the update to fix or prevent the SVCHOST.exe 99% CPU usage issue. First thing you need to do is make sure your Automatic Updates is set to off.. To check the status of your Automatic Updates go to your Control Panel, Switch to Classic View, double click on Automatic Updates and make sure it’s checked to off. If you had to turn Automatic Updates off, I recommend rebooting your PC. After the reboot go ahead and install this update. I would leave Automatic Updates off until the end of this fix; once you have Windows Updates working again I’ve had no issues turning it back on.
Windows Update Agent 3.0
Install Windows Update Agent 3.0. This update will fix the Error you get when trying to run windows Updates. If you attempt to run windows Updates again you’ll be prompted to install the latest addition of Windows Update. Go ahead and proceed with this update. The update will install successfully but you may notice that Windows Update will continue to loop while searching for updates. If that’s the case you can proceed with the next set of updates.
Internet Explorer 8 Security Updates
If you’re still having issues with Windows Updates looping while checking for updates you should continue with the installation of the remaining 4 Internet Explorer 8 security updates. After installation of all updates you should now have a working Windows Update session.
I was stuck with this problem for over two days and this is the only way I’ve been able to resolve the issue.
Thank you very much!
Hi Alex, thanks for posting. I’m glad I was able to help. I was stuck on this issue for a couple days myself, hopefully we wont have as many issues when support officially stops this April. I’m sure we will though
Maybe Linux Next says:
I’ve been getting killed with this issue. Tried a clean install w/ SP3 and followed these steps, now i have 0x8DDD0002 error….augh!
You might have a corrupted file in your %windir%SoftwareDistribution folder. Try renaming this folder to SoftwareDistribution.old and do a reboot. See if this fixes your problem.
You might run into an issue renaming the folder with a pop up saying you don’t have permission. If that’s the case open up your task manager, go to the processes tab and end process on svchost.exe that’s usually taking up the most memory. Or reboot the computer into SafeMode.
At that point you should be able to rename the SoftwareDistribution folder.
My Windows XP installation under Virtual PC gets stuck when it’s installing that Genuine Windows Update.
I would need more details as this sounds like a whole other issue. Make sure you don’t have a firewall installed that’s blocking the Windows Genuine Advantage Tool from installing.
Forgot to thank you. Your guide worked perfectly apart from some two files being reported as already installed. Probably because I installed Internet Explorer 8 without updates and one cumulative security update before finding your guide.
I simply hidden WGAT from updates and the rest of the files installed. I have F-Secure and Windows Firewall only. I disabled my virus program during the installation and updating of Windows XP Mode. But I did not disable Windows’ own firewall.
Glad to hear this guide helped you for the most part laylaylom. I wouldn’t figure Windows Firewall would have anything to do with blocking WGAT. Hiding it from Windows Updates may be just fine, I don’t think I’ve ever run into the issue of WGAT hanging during installation and I don’t think it will cause you any issues not being able to run it. There’s a chance that you might still need a few required updates that may have been missed prior to the download of WGAT. Now that you can successfully download these updates you might want to try again later. You can also try manually downloading WGAT here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/exe-validation.aspx?id=0. You might run into issues if you try to update any software such as Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Media Player as I’ve been prompted to download and run the WGAT before I could install either of those. Hopefully you don’t run into those issues though
I have not been able to pee, neither eat, sleep or anything else but stair at the computer for days..
But now; holy shit, it works! Windows update works so nice, so beautiful..And no angry cpu ether.
So now I also can do my private things again in peace!
Many thanks, the gold medal to you!
Hi Daniel, you’re very welcome. I completely understand the feeling. I felt exactly how you did with the exception that I had to get 2 brand new XP installs done for business clients of mine. Thanks for posting it encourages me to share more information in the future
La Pyae Win says:
Hi Bro, Many thanks for this extremely useful tip.Can I ask if I can streamline this patches/files with nLite to XP CD?
I work as technican. I need to make it as less time consuming as possible for xp machines. Many thanks.
Hi La Pyae, not sure if you’re asking for permission or if it can be done. Either way though, no permission is needed since these updates are property of Microsoft and not myself. As far as using nLite; I’m pretty sure you can add these updates to it successfully. I even thought about doing this myself but also adding a ton of other updates. Not sure if you’ve ever heard of Windows Update Downloader (WUD). You can find it here http://www.windowsupdatesdownloader.com/. This program actually helped me cut down which updates were needed. WUD allowed me to download all updates up to 12/10/2013 and I started installing a few updates at a time to cut it down. WUD even recommends using nLite to save you some time on future installations. Good luck and let me know how your nLite setup goes, I’m curious to know if it’s worth the time. Thanks for writing
Bryce Newall says:
Excellent post, Josh! I’m in the midst of attempting this solution right now. Been banging my head against the wall all day. This is now my 4th attempt at an installation of XP SP3 on an old Dell computer, and I hope it’s my last. I’m up to the IE8 step now. I couldn’t stop myself from commenting even before I had finished. Once I finish, I’ll post another update, successful or not.
One comment on your post on DSLReports said that .NET isn’t required. Any thoughts on that? (I already installed it anyway.)
Bryce Newall says:
Hey Josh, I’m happy to report that, so far, I have success! I noticed that in your video, you skipped past the installation of KB927891, to fix the 99% CPU utilization of SVCHOST. Now I know why: When I ran it, it said that the service pack level I was running didn’t require that update (my installation was a fresh installation with SP3 slipstreamed in).
After Windows Update installed the Genuine Advantage Tool, IE seemed to lock up when it was trying to go to the installation results screen. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and finally killed it. Then, I went back to Windows Update and, so far, things appear to be working normally. I’m doing the .NET 3.5 SP1 update, which is a standalone update, and then I’ll do the rest.
Thanks again for an awesome article! You saved the day! I just wish I’d found this earlier…
Hi Bryce, thanks for posting! I feel your frustration and that’s exactly why I took the time to write this article. Glad to hear you were able to resolve your issue! I’ve completed at least a half dozen fresh installs during this process of figuring out how to correct the issues at hand. Some of them required the SVCHOST fix and some didn’t. I believe the issue may have come up during some of my previous attempts at finding what order to install these updates. Either way I figured it was best to post the steps on how to fix the SVCHOST issue just in case somebody else ran into it. I also tried my best to cater to those who may have tried other fixes with no success and may have only been missing a few updates. I also have yet to have an issue with the Windows Genuine Advantage Tool. It could be because I’m using an OEM copy. Not quite sure. If I ever run into the issue I’ll be sure to update this post. Thanks again for writing!
Hi, I was able to accomplish a XP sp3 fresh install and get updates working by installing IE7 then installing IE8 then installing KB2799329…
Which doesn’t make sense lol
Also note that this afflicts a “fresh copy” of XP mode.
I wonder if MS is trying to sabotage WU before the official cutoff lololol
Hi MeMadMax, that’s an odd combination of updates I do agree! Next time I do a fresh installation I’ll give that a go and see if I can quicken the process. I actually imagined you might be able to cut out some of those updates but after several attempts at figuring this out I was finally satisfied with my results haha! Thanks for posting and I’ll definitely try your results.
WinXP SP3 clean install with updates working: “Easy Mode”
Download IE7 here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/internet-explorer-7-details.aspx
Start the program.
IMPORTANT: It will ask to “Install the latest updates for Internet Explorer” UNCHECK this box otherwise it will fail!
Finish installing IE7.
Open windows update from start menu.
Ignore anything that is going on in the website you want to look to the right of the website: Click on “Pick a time to install updates”
On the window that pops up click on “More options”
On the next window that pops up, click on “Download updates for me”
Click on Apply.
Click on “Automatic (recommended)”
Click on OK.
Look for a “Yellow Shield” to pop on your taskbar to the bottom right, it will say “Downloading updates” when you hover your mouse over it.
Close internet explorer/windows update website.
Install as many updates as you can thru the “Yellow Shield”(unselect the “Genuine Advantage tool” it’s not vital, comeback to that later =D)
All done, easy.
If you lose your “Yellow shield” for some reason like accidentally close it/cancel/whatever, restart the computer and it will restart…
Have a good one.
Bryce Newall says:
Hi again Josh,
Here’s an update for ya: The Windows Genuine Advantage tool continued to be a problem. In addition, if I brought up Windows Update and tried to switch over to Microsoft Update instead, then I would get stuck in a loop between the browser saying “Checking if your computer has the latest version of Windows updating software for use with the website…” and “Checking for the latest version of Windows updating software…”. Just bouncing repeatedly back and forth between the two, until I was finally able to click the “Change Settings” link and turn off Microsoft Update and go back to Windows Update. Some information I found seemed to indicate that that was a symptom of the Windows Genuine Advantage problem.
My searching found a link to manually download and install the Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications update, KB905474. The link for that is: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20888
I rebooted the machine for good measure, then downloaded and ran the executable. The forum where I found that link said it might still appear to hang around 75-80%, but would then finish after a couple of minutes. I started it, and it appeared to hang, but then I had to leave my desk for a few minutes, and when I came back, it had completed. I was then also able to successfully switch from Windows Update to Microsoft Update, and am now updating Office 2010 as I write this.
I hope this info will be useful to others. Once again, I appreciate your taking the time to document the process you went through. Saved me a lot of headache!
Great! I found a solutions couple of months ago, but that didn’t solved it for today, your guide helped me out
Big cheers and many thanks for postig this guide.
Had 2 computers to reinstall fresh xp on. Both where a year apart in age. First one worked like a charm following your instruction video. Second one kept freezing after I installed Update Agent 3.0. Reinstalled fresh xp to make sure I was doing it right to no avail. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Hi Paul, sorry about the delay in response. I’ve been really tied up at work. Did you ever get any further with your Update Agent 3.0 issue? If not can you describe the “freezing” aspect a little more? Update install freezes or entire computer freezes?
Thank you SO much. I’d virtually given up trying to fix this because nothing I tried would work. I’m not a computer expert so I really appreciate that you explained everything so clearly. Many thanks again Josh.
Hi JF, glad I was able to help. Sorry about the long delay in response. Work has been a little crazy lately. I hope to update the website with more content shortly. Thanks for taking the time to write!
No worries Josh, thanks for getting back to me. The pc is 9 years old anyhow, and I noticed it froze eventually after a while. Most likely a hardware problem. So I thought I might ditch it anyhow, as nowhere on the net did anyone report problems with freezing after update Agent 3.0 installed. Thanks again mate.
lloyd Harrington says:
OMG…. THANK YOU *** THANK YOU *** THANK YOU Josh!!! You are my hero, my friend. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to troubleshoot this and post your findings. I am truly indebted to you! I have applied your instructions on three different XP machines and ALL ARE NOW ABLE TO GET WINDOWS UPDATES perfectly and the Dell desktops are running fine. I spent about two months racking out my brains over this and I’m so lucky I somehow stumbled onto your site here through a google search. I applied your fix exactly as you said to and applied the fixes in the order you said too and all went well and I am one happy guy here. The only thing that was slightly different for my particular situation here was that my Dell Windows XP Home Edition reinstall CD already had SP-2 on it. But I had ordered SP-3 on a CD directly from Microsoft quite a few years back when it casme out. So I simply reinstalled Windows XP then installed SP-3 from that CD I had, then applied all the fixes in the order you said and all went perfect. Man how I wish I could shake your hand my friend. So again a big thank you so much for helping out a lot of folks with this. Something kind of tells me that Microsoft wants to sell new operating systems and might have “hosed” Windows Updates in order to frustrate a lot of people – just a guess on my part but one certainly has to wonder. Thanks again Josh; you ‘da man !
Hi Lloyd, thanks for writing. Glad this was able to help you!
Is there a way to save all the updates to the desktop and then store them on a flashdrive for future reinstalls of XP?
Hi Marvin, head to http://www.windowsupdatesdownloader.com/. Download the application and run it. This application will help you download tons of updates and save them to a physical disk. You could also just click on all the links provided above, download and save them to your desktop. Then copy them over to a thumb drive.