Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hmmm. So that '403-thing' WAS a real problem...

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.

So I just popped onto the sidebar and changed the setting for Updates to use "Windows Updates" instead.  Easy enough to do.

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:

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:


You can see the full context of this suggested solution at

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I'm not sure what is more scary: that I just kept on solutioning the problem without even thinking about it or that outdated Windows/Microsoft Update clients can prevent installation of updates and potentially lead to headaches, wasted time in troubleshooting, or people giving up and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.


--Claus V.

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