Many thanks for all your inputs to this issue. Sorry I've not responded for some time, as I've been busy with many other, non-computing jobs, as well as spending a lot of time going through many backups of mine to look for clues.
MrSaffron, thanks for what looks like a vital piece of information about MSSE. What you've stated does fit with what I'm currently experiencing in a backup of my system dated 19th April. That's to say, MSSE starts properly in the enabled state when the program's opened. For that date, MSSE comprised Security Essentials v.2.1.1116.0 and Antimalware v.3.0.8402. Do you happen to know the date on which the failure to upgrade occurred?
Given that Microsoft has presumably been aware of this issue, one would have thought that they could simply have cured the problem in a subsequent download. Hmm, looks like my best bet will be to eliminate MSSE and then download the new version from the Microsoft website.
There was the other problem as well, though - the anomoly with Windows Update. I normally perform updates to WinXP manually, going through the Start/Windows Update route. (There are many reasons for choosing to update Windows by this method, rather too numerous to go into here). At the WU website, the scanning of my PC is performed and the page then lists all available relevant downloads. I then look at the details of each individual update before adding it to the list for download. By 'details' I don't just mean the summary details on that page, I mean the details you're taken to (usually an MS Technet page) when you click on the specific Details link given there. The details will describe any potential malfunctions due to hardware/software incompatibilities, Registry mods required, etc.
What's not happening is that the Details pages are not appearing. WU gives the link, but when I click on the link I get the error message I described earlier, namely:
404 - File or Directory Not Found.
The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.
I've restored successive backups going back to mid-March and have exercised the WU website in this way for each one and, oddly, what I've been finding is that even with the oldest backups, the Details webpages will not appear. However, the Details pages of some much earlier updates which I'd previously declined to download will
appear. So, it's not consistent. Also, I'm sure that during that three-month period I never experienced this problem; it was only when I went to do this month's updates that I encountered it.
In fact, I'm wondering whether, for some strange reason, Microsoft has now decided not
to present any Details webpages anymore. Of course, it's difficult to be certain about this, as I'm looking back several months and it might be that Microsoft made a policy change on this just last month, say.
I would ask you all to try this for yourself, but with many if not all of you using Automatic Update and therefore not being aware that detailed information about each individual download is provided in a link at the WU website, I don't suppose you'd want to mess too much with WU, and possibly you'd find no updates for downloading manually anyway.
But what makes this odd is that although the Details webpages won't appear, the individual update itself downloads okay. I've tried it and checked afterward. Thus, at a pinch, I could continue by not seeing the details each month, but it would mean that I couldn't discriminate between a 'no known issues' download and a more risky one.
If instead this problem with WU has been caused by a corruption of the updating process - and there's been plenty of scope for that in the last few months, with a power blackout, two instances of ISP server catastrophically failing, and my router starting to malfunction (now replaced by a new and better one) - I could restore my system to an early-March position, say, in the hope of getting to a good state again, but the rub would be that there'd be lots of subsequent work in reinstalling all my other software.
If there really is a genuine problem with this feature in WU, then it'd help if Microsoft could let us all know. But I guess that, with the majority of people using Automatic Updates instead, the chances of anyone flagging up the problem, if indeed real, is small. This is why my initial question was asking if anyone had come across this, or whether any recent viruses are known to disable this aspect of WU.
Addendum: Perhaps an important factor in this is that I'm using IE7, not IE8. I tried IE8 quite some time ago but found its user interface less good than IE7's. With my eyesight not being great these days, IE8's changes to the sizes and appearances of text were, for me, detrimental, so I changed back to IE7. It's conceivable that Microsoft have recently started making changes and imposing limitations on Windows updates that use IE7, on the basis that IE7 is considered by most to be obsolete now.
MrSaffron, returning to the matter of MSSE, do you happen to know whether uninstalling it is a clean affair, or is it the usual case of having to mop up the remnants that are left, including perhaps some Windows Registry entries?
Edited by meditator (Wed 20-Jun-12 19:32:16)