My dad brought a computer and said I could look at it "if I wanted to," which is a thinly veiled code for, "you're not going to get paid, but I don't have time to work on this." I flipped it over to see what OS it was licensed for: Windows Vista Basic. I don't necessarily have any issues with Vista, as I used it for until 7 came out. The problem in this case is how the drivers and installed software combine to form an awful user experience. The first thing that happens after logging in is the McAfee anti-virus takes over the computer, sapping as much CPU as it can for about thirty minutes, making the computer hot. I eventually realized that McAfee was expired and scanning with definitions that were over a year old, so I stopped it. I started on uninstalling programs, which went fairly smoothly, though I ended up getting the strangest error from one of the seven programs HP installed in order to install drivers for a printer. It said that I couldn't uninstall because I was uninstalling. Of course I'm uninstalling, I'm trying to uninstall one of those non-driver-related programs that came with the drivers. Actually, the HP drivers acted very much like a virus in some respects. If you tried to close some of the software's functions, such as the digital monitor for a printer that wasn't within 20 miles of the computer, it would later reopen it. It also appeared to be trying to install updates to itself (but would fail) repeatedly. Every time it failed, it would rerun, fail, rerun, and there was no way to stop it. Clicking Cancel or No, or buttons to that effect would just make it complain even more, saying not to click those buttons and instead to click OK or Yes. Eventually I ended the HP-related processes, but eventually they came back on their own and resumed trying to install. Just like a virus.
Eventually, I removed everything I was sure I could remove (including that HP software) and it was time to start updating Windows. After all, the computer hadn't been turned on for about a year. Then I got the dreaded 0x80070005 error. Windows Update always offers me two updates, one of which installs, and the other one fails with the error. If I close Windows Update and reopen it, it shows me the same two updates yet again. When I install the updates using the standalone installer, one says everything is fine (it installs successfully, but then reappears later as being needed), while the other says it doesn't apply (the one labeled as "failed"). One recommended solution was to run the Fix It tool, which requires the .NET Framework 4. It's actually already installed, along with the 3.5 Framework. This is starting to look like a more serious problem. Googling turned up a person with exactly the same problem (the update that says it installs but doesn't, the update that doesn't install, the error message when running Windows Update, the error message when running the Fix It program, the troubleshooting steps that Microsoft says to do that don't work, etc.), but the person never got a completely working solution other than "reinstall Windows". As I waited for
SFC /SCANNOW to run, I realized something: the same error that occurred when the HP software got stuck in a loop appeared when running the Fix It tool. After running SFC, I restarted. The log looked promising, with the only files it couldn't repair being some INI files. I had the same problem. Later I tried SubInACL using the directions on that MSDN blog. If you go to that blog, remove the last part of those lines with ">> %temp%\subinacl_output.txt" (or the one line with only one greater-than sign). I ended up with a 1.3 GB file that could not be opened with anything. Windows Update showed me 98 new updates that didn't appear before. Based on what showed up, it looks like this computer probably had problems with Windows Update for a long time before being brought to my dad (who subsequently brought it to me). Unfortunately, I ended up with a completely different error. I later tried installing just one random update. It installed successfully and didn't give any errors. Then I tried installing all updates of a specific type, starting with the .NET Framework 3.5/4.0. It said those weren't needed, but made me restart anyway. Then I tried lumping Windows Media Format Runtime, IE, and Windows Desktop Search (only five updates) and that worked too. All that was left were the updates to Windows itself, security and otherwise. I decided to do the remaining updates in groups of ten. In the middle of the various restarts, I ran a CHKDSK to make sure a disk problem wasn't causing the various weirdness I ran into, but it came up clean. I eventually got braver and started installing more than ten at a time until everything was installed. Then after a while, I installed everything that appeared and even more updates appeared. I kept going until the latest service pack appeared, and stopped after that installed successfully. (I'm not sure if turning off User Account Control made a difference; I turned it off since the errors I got were all related to permissions.) I did the post-SP2 updates when I went to sleep, since that was about 450 MB that needed to be downloaded over my slow connection. Everything installed successfully (98 updates) without breaking things into groups, so I'm wondering if everything is good now. Eventually all the updates were successfully installed without having to resort to installing them in small groups. I did a little hard drive cleaning and a defrag and it was about as good to go as it would get without a Windows reinstall.