ShaneHalbach.com

The Great Computer Upgrade Debacle

Alright, you’ll have to excuse me for today’s post, but I need to complain.

For about 5 months or so, my computer has been complaining to me that it cannot install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Internet Explorer 9. These are two huge updates that are very important, but in particular Sara has some major, major problems with Internet Explorer 8, so I would love to get the new version for her. However, my computer cannot install these updates, no matter what I do.

It’s embarrassing. I make my living on computers. I have a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering. I pull the strings and the computer dances. And yet, I just can’t do it.

Every month or so, I would roll up my sleeves and say, “That’s it, this is not going to beat me. I am going to do whatever it takes to solve this problem.” After a day or two, I go down in flames and give up again. Rise, wait a month, repeat.

I have googled, I have downloaded, I have installed for hours and hours at a time. There is a specific “System Readiness” program that I run every time I see the version change. We’re on something like version 22 now. It doesn’t fix my problem. From all my googling, I know that this is a common problem that many people have. Why can’t Microsoft fix my problem??

So the other day, I rolled up my sleeves and said, “That’s it, this is not going to beat me. I am going to do whatever it takes to solve this problem.” I got down and dirty. I was looking through Microsoft support posts, I was looking in obscure log files, I was installing, downloading, uninstalling, and rebooting for hours on end.

I seemed to make some progress. If I am understanding properly, the root of the problem came down to this:

Failed to parse package manifest: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy3\Windows\Servicing\Packages\Microsoft-Windows-Client-LanguagePack-Package~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~nl-NL~6.1.7600.16385.mum

Now, as you can clearly see, that means I didn’t have the Dutch language pack installed (obviously). Why would I need the Dutch language pack installed? Your guess is as good as mine. Nonetheless, I found some illicit tool to install the Dutch language pack and cleared that error. Lookin’ good, but no installation.

That’s okay. The instructions told me to expect that. Now I simply have to try to install, check the logs for errors, and clean those errors up one at a time. You simply scroll through for obscure log syntax, see which Knowledge Base article had a problem, then uninstall that update and restart. What could be simpler? The people in the forums had to do this once or twice, and eventually they were able to install.

I did it for four hours. FOUR HOURS, and I didn’t get to the bottom of it. Eventually I had to go to sleep, so I had to give up. Maybe I could devote another day or two to trying to solve the problem. But wait: while I was sleeping, Windows RE-INSTALLED all of the “important updates” I uninstalled trying to get this to work. As far as I can tell, all of my work was undone by my super-helpful Windows 7 installation. Thanks Microsoft!

If I can’t figure out this problem, who is going to be able to solve it? Do you think Average Joe Windows User is going to dig through logs and install Dutch language packs? Is he going to spend 20 hours trying to solve this?

No, he’s not.

But I am, because if I allow a computer to beat me, then my whole life is a lie. Besides, I think if I just solve this *one last problem*, it’s all going to go smoothly…

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