Microsoft Confirms WSUS Patch Problem

Microsoft Thursday acknowledged that it may have to re-release a recent fix for a flaw that stymied some users' ability to grab security patches through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

The fix, which was issued Wednesday, patched a month-old problem with WSUS that had prevented some PCs from receiving updates, including security patches. Systems with Office 2003 were unable to retrieve patches via WSUS since early June because of a synchronization bug in an update that month to the suite's Service Pack 1.

Thursday, however, Microsoft warned of potential problems with the fix: Customers running WSUS 3.0 SP1 on Windows Server 2008 may find that the patch won't install properly. "In order to successfully install this update, you must run the update as an administrator," said Microsoft in a revised security advisory.

The advisory recommended that users download the fix, save it to the desktop, then right-click the update's icon and select "Run as administrator."

The company also confirmed that the update cannot be uninstalled because it doesn't show in the "Add or Remove Programs" control panel. "Microsoft has identified the packaging inconsistencies in the current update and is investigating options to resolve them," read the advisory.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and post updates to the advisory and the Microsoft Security Response Center blog as we become aware of any important new information," said company spokesman Bill Sisk on the MSRC blog Thursday.

Microsoft also confirmed, or seemed to, that the WSUS bug and one involving System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (ConfigMgr), another Windows patch tool, had the same root cause. Companies that relied on ConfigMgr have also been unable to push patches to end-user PCs that have Office 2003 installed.

"The issue affecting System Center Configuration Manager 2007, where System Center Configuration Manager 2007 systems were blocked from deploying security updates, is separate from the issue described in this advisory," said Microsoft Thursday in the WSUS alert. "However, there are similarities in the contributing factors in both issues."

However, Microsoft has yet to respond to queries made yesterday about the exact nature of the similarities between the two bugs.

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