Error 0x8000FFFF in Win7? Phantom patch for Win10 1803? There’s a solution.

Two very different installation oddities that have surfaced since Patch Tuesday have a similar source. Beware the insidious (and poorly understood) Servicing Stack Update. Remember: SSU before LCU except after C or if it sounds like an A.

Broken window with Windows 10 logo
Thinkstock/Microsoft

Consider the following Gedankenexperiment.

You turn on your Chromebook (or phone or iPad), things whirr and glurg for a few minutes, and the computer throws up this message:

Error. Failure to install SSU before LCU. Turn your computer off and back on again.

Enlightening, eh?

That’s what we’re seeing this week in Windows land. Except Windows isn’t polite enough to throw a message up. It just throws up.

To understand the problem, and its documentation, you need to unravel this Microsoftspeak:

SSU = a Servicing Stack Update = an update to the part of Windows that installs updates. As Microsoft says:

The "servicing stack" is the code that installs other operating system updates. Additionally, it contains the "component-based servicing stack" (CBS), which is a key underlying component for several elements of Windows deployment, such as DISM, SFC, changing Windows features or roles, and repairing components. The CBS is a small component that typically does not have updates released every month.

Servicing Stack Updates arrive from time to time. We got one for Win10 version 1803, KB 4456655, on Patch Tuesday. The last Win7 Servicing Stack Update that I know about appeared in September 2016 — two years ago. It’s identified as KB 3177467.

What’s the latest Servicing Stack Update for your version of Windows? I dunno. If Microsoft has a list of the latest, I’ve never seen it.

LCU = Latest Cumulative Update. No, I don’t know why the documentation insists on using yet another three-letter acronym for something that’s easily spelled out. I guess they needed something to keep SSU, CBS, DISM and SFC company.

What does this have to do with you? Ah, glad you asked.

The general rule of thumb is that you should install the latest SSU before you try to install the LCU, er, the latest Cumulative Update (or, in the case of Win7 and 8.1, the latest Monthly Rollup). You might think that the Windows installer would be smart enough to update itself prior to installing a new cumulative update and, well, you’d be wrong.

It now appears as if this SSU-before-LCU rule is responsible for two of the confounding problems with updates this month.

Windows 7 Monthly Rollup, KB 4457144, fails with error 0x8000FFFF

I’ve seen reports from all over the world that people can’t install yesterday’s Win7 Monthly Rollup because they keep hitting an error 0X8000FFFF.

An anonymous poster on AskWoody says:

Feedback from Microsoft premier support:

install Servicing Stack Update KB3177467 (September 2016), restart computer, install KB4457144. KB3177467 ist pre-requisite for KB4457144

And it appears as if that solves the problem. Yes, you have to manually install an obscure two-year-old Servicing Stack Update before you can get this month’s Win7 Monthly Rollup to install. (Nope, you don’t need to reboot after installing KB 3177467.)

Error 0X8000FFFF sure sounds more user-friendly than “manually install KB 3177467,” doesn’t it?

Win10 1803 Cumulative Update KB 4457128 installs twice, or not at all

I’ve also seen reports from all over the world about an odd behavior with this month’s Win10 1803 Cumulative Update. Yep, that’s the latest, newest and bestest version of Windows ever.

Günter Born describes the sequence many people see:

Cumulative update (CU) KB4457128 requires the previous installation of the Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB4456655 for Windows 10 Version 1803. This update is not part of KB4457128 this time. If the Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB4456655 is missing, last cumulative update (LCU) KB4457128 can’t be installed. So KB4457128 is scheduled for installing, but fails – without an error, and Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB4456655 is installed first. The KB4457128 is installing again – so users can see two installs in Update History or Reliability Monitor.

SSU before LCU except after C or when it sounds like a … oh, never mind.

WaaTOR

Why should you have to hassle with this? I dunno. Why can’t Windows update itself as smoothly as ChromeOS? Or macOS or iOS or Android? I dunno. Why do you have to be aware of the Windows installer’s burps — why doesn’t Windows just fix itself and get on with the business at hand? It must be a hard computer science problem.

I call it WaaTOR = Windows as a Tired Old Relic. We’re seeing a lot of that lately.

Thx @Pradeep_Dixit, @PKCano

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