Another botched Black Tuesday: KB 2878890 patch brings back two-year-old KB 951847 -- repeatedly

Microsoft's four-month body count: 23 bad patches. It's past time for Microsoft to improve the quality of its Automatic Updates

Another Black Tuesday, another botched patch. Applying this week's KB 2878890 patch on some Windows XP and Server 2003 SP2 machines causes a two-year-old .Net Framework roll-up patch, KB 951847, to resurface. Windows Update not only prompts WinXP/Server 2003 users to (re)install the big, old .Net patch, it keeps pestering over and over again to (re)install it, even if the WU install logs say it's been installed. Fortunately, there's a fix.

Although we don't yet know the details -- and Microsoft hasn't acknowledged, much less fixed, the problem -- there's a steady stream of complaints, comments, and questions about the botched patch on Microsoft's Answers forum.

The problem seems to affect older WinXP/Server 2003 installations, likely those with older versions of .Net Framework installed.

Advice from the forum mods (who haven't received definitive guidance from Microsoft yet) is that turning off KB 951847 -- unchecking the box on the Windows Update list -- is a prudent way to get rid of the annoyance.

Forum poster MarkDoody reports:

I am having the same problem with update KB951847 showing up on MS Update then giving Error Code 0x80246008 when I run the update on .Net 3.5 SP1. I ran MS Fixit, then used Cleanuptool to remove all components of .Net and reinstalled .Net 1.1 and .Net 3.5 SP1 from MS downloads, but the problem recurs. Add/remove programs shows .Net 1.1, 2.0SP2, 3.0SP2 and 3.5SP1 as installed but update keeps trying to re-install 3.5SP1 and failing.

The irony is that according to forum guru/moderator/MVP PA Bear, the recurring KB 951847 is an optional, nonsecurity patch, even though it's offered as an Important update. Nothing like getting stung repeatedly by a misguided unimportant patch.

Has this become business as usual for Microsoft? The last four months packed quite a body count: On July, four bad patches (KB 2840628, KB 2803821, KB 2821895, KB 2844286). In August, six bad patches (KB 2876063, KB 2859537, KB 2873872, KB 2843638, KB 2843639, KB 2868846). In September, 12 bad patches (KB 2871630, KB 2589275, KB 2760589, KB 2760411, KB 2767913, KB 2810048, KB 2760583, KB 2760590, KB 2760588, KB 2810009, KB 2553145, and KB 2553351). This month, so far, just one (KB 2878890) -- but the month is still young.

If I take off my shoes and count on my toes, that looks like 23 patches with varying degrees of badness have come rolling down the Automatic Update chute in the past four months. Ooops. Guess I need to grow some more toes.

Surely the folks in charge of patching at Microsoft must understand that the current method is broken -- and it's getting worse. Terry Myerson's making a lot of headway cleaning up the Windows effort. Perhaps he can consider my Patch Monday proposal or come up with some other technique for improving the quality of Black Tuesday patches. Windows customers deserve it.

This story, "Another botched Black Tuesday: KB 2878890 patch brings back two-year-old KB 951847 -- repeatedly," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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