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Windows Update Freezing, Not Running, or Not Completing


Summary. It’s sometimes necessary to manually run Windows update in order to get updates to install.

It’s not unusual to discover that a Windows computer set to install updates every night at 3AM has 50 or more updates just sitting in the queue to be installed.

Perhaps there’s some simple answer or fix to this problem, but the prevalence of it happening on so many computers suggests that some aspect of the update automation and ease of use is not designed optimally.

When installing updates, it’s quite common for some updates to require user input before continuing. This is common with Windows Live Essentials 2011 and Internet Explorer 9. A dialog window will be present, but unfortunately, the dialog window is hidden behind the main Windows Update dialog window.

Probably 90% of the time when I’m updating Windows computers, and a dialog box is awaiting input, it’s hidden behind the main Windows Update dialog box. I’m expecting it, so I just keep an eye on the bottom of the screen to see if any other icons are appearing, indicating input is required. I don’t know how Microsoft expects a beginning user to figure this out. It’s really not intuitive. I’m surprised that basic user experience issues like this remain, even in Windows 7, after so much development that’s gone into making Windows a friendly user experience. ~ Greg Johnson

Screen Shots. Below are two screen shots. You can click an image to enlarge it. The first is an example of what you might see when Windows Update is stuck. Notice the Internet Explorer icon has appeared on the bottom of the screen to the right of the Windows Update icon. This is your only indication that a dialog window is awaiting input from you.

Below is a typical frozen Windows Update screen.
(click to enlarge)

Below is the dialog box that was hiding behind the above screen.
(click to enlarge)

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com