So a couple of weeks ago, I had a surprisingly rare problem with Windows Update: one of the updates failed to install. The few times this has happened in the past, a reboot and re-run of Windows Update fixed the problem by itself, but not this time.
Today I finally got tired of seeing the “Updates Available” badge in my system tray and decided to find a way to either get rid of the failed update or force it to actually install properly. Since my virtual machine at work is still running WIndows XP, this meant a trip to the Windows Update site in IE (ugh). The update history informed me that I had encountered error 0×80070003. Helpful, thanks. LMGTFY, Microsoft.
Google led me to this knowledge base article on Microsoft’s website. For those not interested in clicking the link, what it basically says is that Windows Update successfully downloaded and extracted the update in question, but that files were missing from the update which prevented its successful installation. I’m not sure how that even happens, but whatever.
What kills me about this whole thing is that Microsoft knows what went wrong here. Windows Update spat out a very specific error code (useless as it might be to the average computer user, and buried in such a way as to make finding it next to impossible for people who don’t know their way around Windows Update). Microsoft has a knowledge base article for this error. And yet, Windows Update has absolutely no idea what to do when this error occurs. This is lazy and shoddy programming, Microsoft.
Incidentally, the “Fix it for me” application totally failed at its designated responsibility, so I had to perform the manual fix steps in order to get Windows Update to realize that it needed to re-download the stupid update files before the installation would work. Incidentally, the manual fix steps are the functional equivalent of nuking the site from orbit; it destroys your entire update history to get around the problem. Again, this is lazy and shoddy programming, and it’s lazy and shoddy problem-solving to boot.
Here’s an idea for you, Microsoft: if an update fails to install, and you’ve recorded why it’s failed, and the reason it failed is because of this specific error, why not have Windows Update actually re-download the update automatically the next time it runs, rather than forcing me to wipe out my update history to force your stupid program to realize it needs to do something about the problem?