Friday morning I was to be found doing some application installations on a VIP's Windows XP system; my boss's.
I installed the updated release versions of MS Visio and Project without any hiccups.
Then I went to run "Microsoft Updates" (as configured on the system) to see if these apps had any associated patches to be applied.
Only I got a bright red "403" page error code when it attempted to reach the update servers.
So I tried again, and got the same result. Browsing to other web-sites showed the network and Internet access was working fine.
I re-launched Windows Updates and it worked finding the server without any issues (but no Office updates, naturally).
So, for kicks, I re-enabled Microsoft Updates and this time it connected, found, and installed the Visio/Project patches and fixes without the 403 error.
I shrugged it off and "weird" but didn't think anything of it.
Only later did I find this post:
- Microsoft Update providing 403 error code? - SANS ISC Handler's Diary
Seems others were running into the issue as well. So it wasn't just me.
The comments from the post generated quite a lot of feedback and theorizing. More than one posted the method I had used as well to get things unstuck and working again.
While I've not been able to find hardly any material on this "burp" on the Blog-O-Sphere or Microsoft site, one of the comments as posted by Craig D seems to offer the most plausible explanation at this juncture:
This appears to be from someone at Microsoft posted to the microsoft.public.windowsupdate newsgroup...
Eddie Bowers [MSFT]
This was caused by a bad DNS record that prevented older clients from being able to resolve to the correct address to SelfUpdate ( Upgrade to the latest Update client. ) This has been fixed, but it will take a while to propagate to all DNS servers. The newer clients use a different url, so they are not affected. This is why updating the client manually avoids the problem. The links to the latest clients are at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949104
You can see the full context of this suggested solution at
- Server Error 403 Forbidden: Access is denied in Windows Update - Microsoft Discussion Groups
The full KB as referenced is KB949104 - How to obtain the latest version of the Windows Update Agent to help manage updates on a computer
I'm not sure what is more scary: that I just kept on solutioning the problem without even thinking about it or that outdated Windows/Microsoft Update clients can prevent installation of updates and potentially lead to headaches, wasted time in troubleshooting, or people giving up and just leaving their systems un-patched.