WSUS vs Windows 7/ Windows 8.1 client issues

We’ve recently needed to be a bit more rigorous about using WSUS, so I started off on our servers and found out that if you go with “Scheduled Installs”, what this means is that any given server can reboot pretty much when it likes with up to 30 minutes grace.

This was no good at all, so I started using a PowerShell script to do the WSUS side of things, then used a server to run scheduled tasks against a group of servers at a time. This meant that we could reboot the servers when we liked, which is around 04:00.

This was all ticking along nicely, so we opened this out to a select number of clients- mix of Windows 7 Pro SP1 and Windows 8.1 Pro. Very little happened. PCs didn’t get patched, running WSUS through the GUI resulted in the progress bar looping, PowerShell didn’t work, the Event Viewer only displayed errors and WSUS itself complained the PCs hadn’t reported for a long time, or maybe not at all.

After a week of fiddling about with the Windows Update client, deleting registry keys, deleting WindowsUpdate.log etc etc, turns out it seems there are 2 KB articles- KB3138612 & KN3138615- that appear to be critical to getting WSUS working on clients. These KBs relate to “updates for Windows Update” dated March 2016.

The long and the short of it is that it appears the best way to get Windows 7 & 8.1 working is to start from scratch: reinstall Windows from a DVD and then immediately install the relevant KB .msu file.

I tried pointing freshly-built clients at WSUS (before installing the KB) and they either just looped (Windows 8.1) or told you to install an update to Windows Update (Windows 7). This build under Windows 8.1 wouldn’t even talk to WSUS until I’d installed the KB, and I assumed the Windows 7 Windows Update Client Update was the right KB article, although it didn’t say.

I now have 3 new Windows 8.1 images: the OS by itself, the OS with KB3138615 and the OS with all available updates from WSUS. I’m doing the same thing for Windows 7. Unfortunately, this means our existing SCCM images are “fine” in that they’re patched, but it looks like they can’t talk to WSUS so our choice is either to talk to Microsoft to fix this, or re-image all our PCs with the new images. This isn’t my call, but is seriously annoying to find out when we’ve just gone around using SCCM to apply images to PCs whic won’t actually update on a day-to-day basis.