Windows Won’t Install Updates

Some months ago I resurrected a Windows 7 Ultimate computer I had retired a couple years ago after it threw one too many (and consecutive) BSODs. I suspected that all my problems likely stemmed from trying to ‘upgrade’ it from Windows Vista to Windows 7 when I really should have just bought an OEM version of Windows 7. Doing a clean install of Windows 7 Pro seemed to fix all my problems. This was back in April and I got busy with work and other projects. Plus, at that time I really didn’t have a place to keep it setup in my home office. At the time it was more an experiment to see if doing a clean install of Windows 7 would fix the stability issues. I ended up putting the computer back in the closet where it sat until last weekend.

I had been wanting to try out Ubuntu again, especially since I am using it in a virtual environment for the VMware ESXI Server Enterprise class I am currently taking. Also, wanted to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Once I booted into Windows I was told I ‘May be a victim of software counterfeiting’ and that my copy of Windows was not ‘Genuine’. While this was an evaluation copy of Windows 7 I was able to get through my college, I was pretty sure there were no time limits on the licence. Turns out there was, but that was only for retrieving the license key from the Microsoft DreamSpark program. That limit was 2-years from when I purchased (or in this case downloaded) that particular version of Windows 7, which was over two-year ago.

All was not lost though, whenever I purchase (or download) anything from the Microsoft DreamSpark program I always print the online order confirmation which includes the license key (which is in very tiny print). Since Windows was now in lock-down mode I had two options, buy another license key or re-enter the key. I still had the order confirmation so I tried entering the key again, thinking maybe I either misread one of the characters or fat-fingered the first time around. I was able to get Windows activated and all was well…until…

I tried to check for updates and got the message: Windows Update Cannot Check For Updates, Because The Service Is Not Running. Okay, so the service must have been shut off when Microsoft couldn’t validate my copy of Windows. I tried rebooting the machine, thinking that maybe the service would automatically be turned back on. Nope, no such luck. Time to turn to the All Mighty Google and found: “Windows Update Cannot Check For Updates” error message.

I was presented with two options Fix it for me or Fix it myself. I’ve been doing PC repair long enough I should have known that it is usually quicker and more reliable to go the Fix it myself method. However, I thought maybe Microsoft could have improved their automated fixes. So I clicked the Fix it for me link and downloaded a Troubleshooting Pack File which I ended up running and had to wait for it to install. When it was all said and done…it had done absolutely nothing. i was still getting the same message when trying to check for updates.

I took a look at the Fix it myself directions and all it was opening a command and entering two commands:

  • net start bits
  • net start wuauserv

Not only did this fix my problem, it took less time to open the command prompt and enter those two commands than it did just downloading the useless Troubleshooting Pack File. I do recall the Windows net command from last year when I was preparing to get my A+ Certification. Plus I do use it on occasion when for whatever reason I get a print job stuck in the print spooler.

I am now able to check for and install updates on this machine. So far I haven’t had any other issues with this machine. I have managed to get Ubuntu (which comes pre-installed with the latest version of Firefox) running fine on another partition. I tried last weekend to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview in Oracle Virtual Box, but kept running into problems. I am going to try to reallocate the disk space and see if I can just install the Windows 10 preview on it’s own partition.