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  • Vista is broken

    Posted on November 25th, 2016 at 05:23 woody 71 comments

    I haven’t been keeping up on Vista. This from reader AB:

    Nobody seems to have noticed that Microsoft have broken Windows Vista.  Almost any Vista machine that I encounter (I earn my living fixing computers) has not managed to install the regular Windows Updates since June.  What is worse, if the machine has an internet connection then process svchost rapidly builds-up to using an entire core (so typically 50% CPU) usage in a vain attempt to find updates.  This waste of a CPU core continues for as long as the computer remains on.  This ought to be a big scandal but all the experts (like yourself) have moved-on from Vista so it has passed unnoticed.

    Anybody else having problems?

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    71 Responses to “Vista is broken”

    1. AK says:

      Both my ‘VISTA’ machines are up-2-date.
      Manually, find and load the sideshow ‘updates’ ‘office’, etc, through the ‘stand-alone-installer’. Stop the update service, per manual update, for S-A-I success.
      The main ‘events’, usually come flying-in, and 1 or 2, do turn up subsequently. Yes, the processor runs at 50%: you can always stop the update service.
      It’s protracted; but, it works-4-me.
      It stops me playing addictive, obsessive, waste-o-time computer games. The computer is my game.
      VISTA being close to EOL: software, browser etc, are beginning to bale-out early, long before next April.
      Treat yourself to a new machine for Christmas.
      Merry Christmas to all my readers. AK
      p.s Disable all the games: saves yourself a fortune.

    2. Jonathan says:

      Yep same problem here. And It takes an eternity to search for an update.

    3. Eric says:

      This is old news. I’ve commented on WU/MU crappy performance on Vista numerous times over the past several months, pointing out high memory utilization and svchost spiking.

      No “magic patch” has provided any relief. I have taken to downloading all monthly security updates and then installing the .msu files manually. Afterwards, I let WU/MU check for and install updates for Office 2007.

      It’s a PITA, but all my x85 and x64 Vista systems are completely updated.

    4. 𝓓𝓪𝓭𝓭𝔂 says:

      Makes me wonder if all these broken update systems are a result of the “patch fragmentation.” Although Vista doesn’t have long left anyways. But as for Windows 7 and later. There’s no excuse.

      • Eric says:

        I doubt it’s “patch fragmentation”. A Vista system has been receiving updates through WU/MU for 10 years. So all kinds of detritus have been accumulating for a very long time.

        The ability to remove crud from Windows Update using Disk Cleanup was added to Win 7 but never back-ported to Vista.

        Couple that with Microsoft’s disinterest in supporting Vista beyond the barest minimum and its easy to understand why the monthly patching cycle has become a horror show.

        • EP says:

          It was not “patch fragmentation” but ultimately using a very outdated WINDOWS UPDATE AGENT on Vista and having a very hard time displaying a list of 250+ available post-SP2 updates for Vista after installing/re-installing Vista from scratch.

          One person in the Neowin.net forum ran a Windows Update scan on a dual-core based Vista machine and it took about 67 STRAIGHT HOURS for Windows Update to display a list of available updates:

        • abbodi86 says:

          Since Windows 10 now experience the issue, i doubt it has anything to do with updates amount
          and it certainly not related to the machine CPU/RAM specs.

          The issue is more likely caused by the supersedence chain that is scattered among some updates, specially when a chain contain almost 20+ updates
          that’s why installing certain updates correct or fix this chain to work without delay

    5. Volume Z says:

      It needs to be understood that the set of magic patches identified by Dalai and the triggers of this issue are the same. By identifying solutions, he has identified the problems.

      As a new development the Cumulative Security Update for IE 9 has joined that club, like in Windows XP at the end of the year 2013.


      Regards, VZ

    6. Michael says:

      For what it’s worth, I’ve been having basically the same issue with a Windows 7 Ultimate machine.

      No updates, searches forever without success, high CPU usage by the update service.

      It would appear that whatever was done to Vista can happen to 7.

    7. LoneWolf says:

      Yep. I don’t have a lot of Vista systems to manage, but the ones I do are a royal mess.

      I don’t see Microsoft as caring. I really believe Microsoft should have atoned for Vista by offering a free or discounted Win7 upgrade to Vista system owners back in the day.

      • EP says:

        @LoneWolf: there were some free Win7 upgrades from big manufacturers like Dell and HP on select pre-installed Vista computers made in mid-2009. My cousin’s Dell Inspiron 546 desktop PC had pre-installed Vista home basic edition 32bit but came with a free Win7 upgrade offer. Few seem to know and take advantage of it though.

    8. Joe Friday says:

      Bought a Gateway laptop w/Vista. Free upgrade to Win7. M$ mailed me a CD.

      Upgrade never did work right. Bought a Win7 retail. Seven years still good.

    9. James Bond 007 says:

      I have a Vista x64 virtual machine (CPU configured to 2 cores and memory configured to 8 GB) running under VMware Workstation, with updates up to June 2016. My host is a computer with a X99 motherboard, Core i7 6800K CPU and 64 GB RAM.

      As a test, I installed the missing updates KB3185911 / KB3191203 / KB3198234 / KB3203859 as indicated in the “Updates not working” thread:


      I have also set Windows Update to “Never Check for Updates”.

      After I started “Check for Updates” manually, the process immediately took 50% of the total CPU power (one full core) in the virtual machine.

      Time from starting to check to showing list of updates : 14 minutes

      Time from starting to install (20) updates to completion : 7 minutes

      So in this case the time is still within acceptable limits. However, I can certainly see someone with a (much) less powerful computer will face much longer waiting times (possibly hours) when checking for updates.

      • James Bond 007 says:

        I also noticed that Volume Z in the “Updates not working” thread claimed that by installing the IE9 Cumulative Security Update KB3197655 in addition to the other patches, it will reduce the checking time considerably. So I did a second test on the virtual machine by installing KB3197655 in addition to the other 4 patches.

        Time from starting to check to showing list of updates : 3 minutes

        Time from starting to install updates to completion : 5 minutes

        So, I can say that at least in this case there is some truth in that claim.

      • James Bond 007 says:

        I also launched another virtual machine running Windows Server 2008 x64 (the server counterpart to Windows Vista x64), configured to 2 core CPU and 8 GB RAM, and also patched to June 2016.

        Without installing those “magic” patches, I started to check for updates in Windows Update, and it took about 13 minutes for the update list to show up.

        So apparently Windows Server 2008 was not too significantly affected by this issue at this time.

      • James Bond 007 says:

        I think it is obvious that Microsoft is not going to provide any sort of “permanent” solution to the Vista update problem, knowing that Vista will be out of support in April next year.

        Still, this is a ridiculous situation. I just saw Noel Carboni reporting that his test system using a 6 core Xeon CPU from 2011 still cannot show the update list after 53 hours (more than 2 days) of checking updates. As Noel said, Microsoft should be ashamed of creating such a mess for its paying customers.

        If Windows Update on a Vista machine is left in the default state of automatic checking, then I can imagine the machine running hard for days consuming a full core of CPU power without completing the checking (not to say downloading the updates and installing them). Such a waste of electricity with no purpose whatsoever. And if the machine was a low end with only a single core or dual core CPU, this meant that 50% or 100% of the CPU power would be consumed by Windows Update, essentially crippling the computer.

        So if you are the unfortunate owner of a Vista machine and for whatever reason needs to stick with it, and if you do not have the time to deal with this crap, perhaps the best way is to set Windows Update to “Never Check for Updates” and stop installing updates altogether (Group C)? If you still want to install updates on your time, I still recommend that you set Windows Updates to “Never Check”. That way your computer will not be crippled and you can carry on doing your work.

        • messager7777777 says:

          @ James B ……. Seems, M$ hv been crippling Windows Update for Win Vista/7/8.1, in order to “force” their users to upgrade to Win 10 = more $$$$ for M$.
          Posting this reply to u from a hand-me-down, obsolete n EOL’ed Win XP machine, which is not very different from Win Vista/7/8.1 cptrs that hv broken Windows Update n Patcholypse.

          • abbodi86 says:

            No they are not, that’s just FUD
            the issue also affect Windows 10 ver 1507 & 1511
            and they already released permanent fix for Win 7/8.1

            • messager7777777 says:

              @ abbodi ……. Similar to the broken Windows Update in Win Vista/7/8.1, Windows Update is also broken in the older Win 10 v.1507 & 1511 bc M$ wanna “force” their users onto the latest v.1607 = more $$$$ for M$.
              ……. IOW, it is likely the policy of M$ to cripple Windows Update for older versions of Windows, even though they hv not yet reached EOL = more $$$$ for M$.
              Windows Update has only been “fixed” for those Win 7/8.1 users who hv sheep’ily allowed M$ to install hidden Telemetry updates on their cptrs via Windows Update, eg might be hidden inside KB3172605, the July 2016 Rollup “fix” for a clean reinstalled Win 7.
              ……. Windows Update in Win 7/8.1 remains broken for those who hv refused to allow M$ to install hidden n non-hidden Telemetry updates via Windows Update = can’t be “fixed”.
              Was it FUD when in 2012, M$ implemented non-disabled-able Secure Boot in all new OEM Win 7/8 cptrs b4 they backed-down.?
              Was it FUD when recently M$ disallowed Intel’s latest Kabylake chips from supporting Win 7/8.1, ie only supporting Win 10 … n even for the previous Intel Skylake chips b4 M$ backed down.?

              • ch100 says:

                It is certainly FUD to expect Microsoft to support newer processors for a product which was released originally in 2009 while those processors were released in 2016.
                The consumer is right only in a “buyer’s market” and this has nothing to do with reality, but rather with the theory of selling and the actual moment in the economic cycle.

                • messager7777777 says:

                  @ ch100 ……. When M$ released Win 7 in 2009, did they state that the then-latest Intel chips would only support Win 7 n not Win XP.? … Similarly, when M$ released Win 8 in 2012, did they state that the then-latest Intel chips(1st generation.?) would only support Win 8 n not Win 7/Vista/XP.?
                  ……. Wasn’t the backwards compatibility of Windows with older versions that made it triumphed over Apple’s MacOS during the 1990s n 2000s.?

                  Seems some Windows users hv become like Apple’s iSheep, like love-blind Rihanna willingly being abused by her then-bf Chris Brown for some time.
                  P S – Fyi, Intel’s 7th-gen Kabylake chips also do not support Win 8.1, which was released by M$ in 2014 = only 2 years ago.

            • ch100 says:

              Yes, a lot of FUD, but remember that most of those who post are not professionals and some would hardly be classified as Power Users, even if they consider themselves as such. They were sold a product which was supposed to do everything for them at no or very little maintenance and those claims were proven as not being true.

            • abbodi86 says:

              There is nothing hidden in the fix and it’s not related to any Telemetry components

              don’t mix bad marketing decisions with ignorant FUD

      • lmacri says:

        Hi James Bond 007:

        Thanks for posting those test results. That’s in the same range that I’ve seen for Vista SP2 users with a 64-bit OS and 4 MB of RAM who pre-installed KB3203859 to speed up their Nov 2016 Patch Tuesday updates – see beginner64’s post at http://www.vistax64.com/windows-updates/303992-windows-update-just-seems-hang-while-checking-post1408488.html#post1408488 for one example.

        I’d just caution users not to expect those types of results under “normal” conditions with an older 32-bit Vista SP2 machine with a dual core CPU and around 3 GB of installed RAM (and less than 2 GB of free RAM once they load a real-time antivirus and other essential drivers at boot-up). In practice, many 32-bit Vista SP2 users who have managed to keep their systems fully patched by installing Dalai’s recommended Windows kernel-mode driver (Win32K.sys) speed up patches each month saw a significant jump in their “Checking for updates…” hang in October and November 2016 – typically 60 to 90 min hours for Windows Update to run to completion and install about a dozen available updates, with most of that time consumed by the initial “Checking for updates…” phase.

        A few 32-bit Vista SP2 users with limited amounts of RAM who had two or three months of updates pending (Sep/Oct/Nov 2016 ) reported that Windows Update took around 9 hours to run to completion after all their missing Win32K.sys speed up patches were installed in November 2016.

    10. Joecompute says:

      Same for me. During the summer all attempts to update stall. Even the “manual installer” for the “miracle updates” that will fix updating won’t download!

    11. mark says:

      I had this exact problem on my vista system. In mid-October I installed wsusoffline updater. It installed a number of updates and I haven’t seen the svchost issue since. Windows update is still a mess in that it hasn’t updated it’s “updated were installed” date since July (most recent check for updates” is still dated April). The ‘view update history’ is still way off but I assume this is because vista itself is not updating.

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