Working on a machine whose purpose is to backup virtual machines hosted in VMware – I noticed that the automated windows updates were failing. On checking I found that rather than using a Windows 7 Sp1 disk – a Windows 7 unpatched disk had been used. Thinking that perhaps a windows 7 SP 1 install would fix this – I tried a manual install of it but it failed almost immediately. I then tried individual patches and noticed that all were failing.
Bearing in mind the machine has no dvd drive – I wondered about a repair install via USB key but in the end was able to map to a shared DVD drive and use the Windows 7 with SP1 media to upgrade install across the network.
Once the files were copied as part of the install the upgrade proceeded successfully and after a reboot new updates were found and installed. The machine is now happy to update again and the strange phenomenon of all updates failing is gone.