After running SFC/ SCANNOW, performing a clean boot and about a dozen other standard IT tricks, I found a blog that nailed the issue. It had to do with the Notification Area… yes, I know that sounds stupid but that is what it was and later I found MS documentation to back it up.
Apparently if the Windows Update icon can not popup in the Notification Area, Windows Update won’t.
- Right click the START BUTTON (or any empty space on the task bar) and select PROPERTIES
- Click the TASKBAR tab
- Click the CUSTOMIZE button for the Notification Area
- At the VERY bottom of the window, click on the ALWAYS SHOW ALL ICONS AND NOTIFICATIONS IN THE TASK BAR
- Try your Windows Updates again. Note that I did not have reboot, log off or even restart services
This allowed about a third of my 20 outstanding updates to install but others still would not. I found that changing to a different profile allowed me to install the balance.
If this does not work, you can always try the Microsoft FIXIT tool for Windows Update. It is free fast and I have never seen it cause a problem:
I also found that individual updates like the MICROSOFT MALICIOUS SOFTWARE REMOVAL TOOL would not install without this setting being changed and I was getting a:
This version of the Malicious Software Removal Tool is not compatible with the version of Windows you’re running. blah blah 32bit 64 bit
even though there is only one version of MSRT!
For some screen shots and more detail, take a look at http://todd4tech.blogspot.ca/2012/03/windows-update-failing-with-error.html