Killing Vista


I’ve not had the chance to work on many Windows Vista machines. Most of my customers are still way behind the technology curve with their Windows XP. But, on the rare occassion I have worked with Vista, it’s almost always for the same thing.

There is/was a problem with some of the Vista updates and how they interact with early OEM installation images. Particularly Dell, HP and Compaq. Turns out when you apply said updates, the computer get stuck in the following reboot loop.

>Configuring updates 3 of 3. 0% complete

It does that, goes to a screen that says shutting down and reboots. Right back to this screen. Neat.

Before I go further, you can search google all you want, but the only way to reliably fix this is to reinstall Windows Vista. Try all the other stuff if you are getting paid by the hour, but if you have other things to do, back up the users data and reinstall Windows.

But how do you kill it? That’s the easy part. After watching this happen 3 times and thinking _this is the time it’s going to work_ when it doesn’t, then it’s time to do a system restore. System restored to a point prior to the update installation, computer reboots.

Of course, upon reboot, the updates are still there, waiting to be applied. And, if the computer is set to apply updates automatically and you don’t pay attention, they do just that. Which then causes the reboot loops again.

Rinse. Repeat.

After a few of these, voila! One Blue Screen of Death. Of course, at that point, a reload is the only option since even a system restore only repeats the process. Not only that, but the computer **still doesn’t update**.

From what I understand, the real best fix for this is to install Windows 7. I’ve only seen it in passing, so I’m not yet very familiar with it but hope to be fixing that shortly after 2010 starts.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. First – can I press her CTRL+ALT+DEL? Somebody had to go there and I’m sure you already figured it’d be either me or Josh…

    Ok is it possible to force an SP1 install before this update? Which update is it? Either Windows Update or the system logs should tell you which update has bombed – can you skip that update? I’m wondering if it’s possible to essentially patch around the update in question…

  2. Actually, I think it’s SP1 that’s causing it. Everything is fine and dandy until that happens.

    This isn’t a problem that I’m the only one having this time, which is nice. MS has put out a fix, but of course, it doesn’t work.

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