Microsoft: Here's how to stop Vista update's endless reboot

Users dub snafu 'Microsoft's St. Valentine's Day Vista Massacre'

Although Microsoft has yet to fix an update that sent some Windows Vista machines into endless reboots, on Friday it spelled out several workarounds users can apply to regain control of those PCs.

Last week's update -- actually a pair of prerequisite files that modify Vista's install components to prep the operating system for Service Pack 1 (SP1) -- caused some systems to reboot over and over, while others simply balked at booting. On Tuesday, Microsoft reacted to a flood of reports on its support forums by pulling the files from Windows Update until it could determine what went awry.

Although some users managed to stop the rebooting on their own or with help from others posting messages to a Microsoft support newsgroup, Microsoft was officially mum on a fix or workaround until Friday.

The KB949358 support document confirmed what users had been reporting for more than a week.

"When you try to install an update from Windows Update on a computer that is running Windows Vista, you may receive the following message: 'configuring updates stage 3 of 3. 0% complete'," it read. "After you receive this message, the computer reverts to the screen that displays the same message. Additionally, the update is not installed successfully, and the computer restarts."

The document also gave users three ways to stop the rebooting and take back control of their PCs. It suggested that they try them in this order:

-- Start Windows Vista by using the Windows installation media, and then select the "Repair your computer" option;

-- Start the computer in Safe Mode, and then use the Repair or System Restore feature;

-- Rename the "Pending.xml" file, and then edit the registry.

Most, though not all, users who had tried these earlier -- other users suggested the trio on the newsgroup days before Microsoft put its stamp on the fixes -- had reported they'd reclaimed use of their PCs.

Some wags on the support newsgroup, meanwhile, have dubbed the snafu "Microsoft's St. Valentine's Day Vista Massacre," a nod to the day when reports first filled the forum. Many of them also complained of poor-quality advice from Microsoft's phone support representatives, but said that they'd managed to recover their machines using one of the three fixes the company outlined Friday.

"I received this update on February 14 and it killed Vista," wrote a user identified as D Clarke on Thursday. "I spent most of two days on the phone with a Microsoft guy from India named 'Steve.'"

Rather than wait for the Microsoft rep to call him back, however, Clarke tried the "Repair your computer" option, the first one outlined in the support document posted Friday.

While a patched update isn't yet available, Microsoft remained confident that the delay would not ruin its release plans for SP1. "This will not affect the SP1 release schedule," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail Thursday. "We are on schedule to release Windows Vista SP1 to Windows Update and the download center in mid-March and to users using Automatic Update in mid-April."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?