Fighting with a broken Windows Update - Part 2

More workarounds for the 80248015 error in Windows Update

Many people running Windows XP and Server 2003 are experiencing a bug where Windows and/or Microsoft Update fail with error code 0x80248015 before checking for new updates. I wrote about this last time and now have additional information and a better work-around.

The last time I suggested a fix that involved renaming a folder, but there are a couple problems with that approach: the history of installed patches is lost and it needs to be done every time before you manually run Windows Update.

A better work-around, and one that I have tested on multiple XP machines, is to simply change the date on the computer to November 16, 2014.

This keeps the patch installation history and if you need to reboot and run Windows Update again, it will work the second time. Of course, you should correct the date when you are done installing patches.

Resetting the date screws up the sequence of restore points, the system thinks the most recent ones were made 8 days ago. It is not obvious, however, that there are any real consequences to this.

ITS A BUG, NOT A FEATURE

I feel confident calling the 80248015 errors a bug, even though Microsoft has not yet commented on the matter (as far as I know).

The issue, which has also been reported on Windows 2000 and Home Server, is not related to unsupported Operating Systems. I say this both because it started on November 18th, which was not the public expiration of anything, and because there are reports that automatic updates are still working (that is, the problem only manifests when you get updates manually). Also, Windows Update is still needed for updates to supported software such as Office 2007/2010, Silverlight and the Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Another possible symptom of the problem, shown below, is a 404 Not Found error.

windowsupdate.404error

On the XP system where this occurred, I changed the system date from today (Nov. 24th) to November 16th and the 404 went away, to the point that the initial Windows Update page would display.

However, when I checked for new updates, there was yet another "404 - File or directory not found" error. Then, I tried Microsoft Update (rather than Windows Update) and all was well, it found one missing patch. But, with the date reset back to November 24th, Microsoft Update failed.

On Windows XP, file WindowsUpdate.log in the C:\Windows folder seems to be an activity log. Below is an edited excerpt from the file showing the 0x80248015 error.

== Logging initialized (build: 7.6.7600.256, tz: -0500)
== Process: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe
== Module: C:\WINDOWS\system32\wuapi.dll
AuthorizationCabPath = C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\AuthCabs\muauth.cab
Validating signature for C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\AuthCabs\Downloaded\7971f918-a847-4430-9279-4a52d1efe18d.auth.cab.temp\muauth.cab:
Microsoft signed: Yes
WARNING: WU client fails CClientCallRecorder::AddService2 with error 0x80248015
WARNING: ISusInternal::AddService failed, hr=80248015
Exit code = 0x80248015

The file muauth.cab seems to be at the heart of the problem.

I checked three XP systems and each had a file named muauth.cab in folder C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\AuthCabs\ which is identified in the WindowsUpdate.log file as the AuthorizationCabPath. On each system the muauth.cab file contained a single file called authorization.xml. This XML file contains an expiration date of November 17th, which at this point is not a surprise.

Below is an excerpt from the authorization.xml file which was the same on each system I reviewed.

<CabVersion>12</CabVersion>
<IssuedDate>2011-11-17T17:27:43.5251853-08:00</IssuedDate>
<ExpiryDate>2014-11-17T17:27:43.5251853-08:00</ExpiryDate>

On each of these XP systems Windows Update ran fine when the system date was earlier than the 17th, and failed with error 0x80248015 when the date was later.

One system was particularly interesting because it found a missing patch to Microsoft's free Word Viewer. This system uses Open Office, and has the Word Viewer installed so that the user can verify that Open Office is correctly rendering Word documents. The Word Viewer patch (KB2899553) was issued November 11, 2014, so add the Word Viewer to the list of software Microsoft still patches on XP.

STILL MORE WORKAROUNDS

Microsoft has a Fixit tool for Windows Update but for some reason (my guess is this is another mistake on their part) they have withdrawn the version for Windows XP. I tried running the version for Vista on an XP system and don't advise doing so. 

Fore more suggested work-arounds see

One suggestion involves replacing the muweb.dll file.

Another involves issuing a command (wuauclt.exe /detectnow) to manually control the automatic updates system, which as noted above, runs fine. 

I have not tested either approach. 

UPDATE November 26, 2014: On one XP machine, where both Windows Update and Microsoft Update were failing with the 80248015 error, I was able to get the system to find new patches using the wuauclt.exe /detectnow command. In the Control Panel, automatic updates was set to download patches but let me chose when to install them. 

Over at InfoWorld, veteran Windows Update critic Woody Leonhard asks "Does anybody at Microsoft give a hang..." He also points out that Microsoft still updates Security Essentials on XP. 

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