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Virtual Win 7 machine irreparable on reboot (with pending Windows updates)?

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I have a virtual Windows 7 machine running in VMWare Workstation. Every time I reboot, Windows updates are configured and installed, the boot process fails, and finally the system attempts and fails to automatically repair itself. None of the manual "advanced" repair options seems to get past the initial stages, either.

I've tried deleting C:\Windows\winsxs\pending.xml and C:\Windows\winsxs\reboot.xml, but the updates still get installed on reboot. This appears to mean that the files are already installed, so I've tried uninstalling the last several installed updates. Specifically, I uninstalled the top 4 non-.NET updates in the list shown below (in the picture). I suppose I could keep randomly uninstalling these one-at-a-time until my computer successfully reboots, but that's a very slow process.

I don't see any option to cancel or hide pending updates in the Windows Update settings window; when I right-click on an update (whether pending, successful, or failed) the only options are to view details or copy details.

I'm not sure what is causing Windows to fail to boot and attempt the auto-repair process, but it may have something to do with the Windows Embedded Standard 2009 toolkit and its associated updates (all the December roll-ups released thus far, plus the IE8 components). Or it may not; I'm not really sure how to tell, but that's just about the only thing I even have installed on the machine. I suppose it could also be a VMWare Workstation problem.

I tried running the auto-fixer here, but it said no problems were detected.

I also tried the suggestions from Itai and Moab here, to no avail; the gpedit fix didn't change the reboot behavior, and as noted previously, I don't see any option to "hide" these updates (and in any case I believe the guilty files are already installed).

....any ideas? Can pending updates be rolled back? Is there a way to figure out which update is causing the boot process to fail, assuming it's even an update?

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This is preventing me from cloning the VM, which would be EXTREMELY helpful for my team at the moment

asked Jan 14, 2015 by Kyle Strand  
Have you tried to rollback to a system restore point that is from before the destruction by Windows Update?
@harrymc I have not, but I'd rather avoid that if possible, because quite a bit of the work I'm attempting to preserve by cloning the machine has been done since the problem started.
This being a VM, one can always try things while keeping a copy. Try to reset Windows Update ( and If this doesn't help, why not try a Repair Install ( If one works, be careful about redoing Windows Update (I can give a few hints there).

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This KB article has a lot of things to try.

Microsoft also has a troubleshooter for Windows Update. It may point out the offending update that is failing. I don't know if this is the same one you tried, but it's worth a shot.

If all else fails, "net stop WuAuServ" and disabling the update service can stop the vicious cycle of updating and failing and allow you to clone your vm for your team.

answered Jan 14, 2015 by Ohnana