Getting out of a no boot situation after installing updates on Windows 7-2008R2

A call we receive from time to time is how to enable the rollback of a hotfix when it appears to be in a hung state.  Commonly the symptom is that the user has rebooted and is now stuck at a screen which reads "Completing stage 3 of 3" over and over, with the update never completing.

This occurs for several different reasons, but luckily we have a solution in Windows 7 and 2008 R2 (which releases officially this time next week).  Its the /revertpendingactions command that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry.  I figured I would discuss its usage quickly here based on a conversation I was having with my co-worker the other day about the command.

First, the command is located in the new DISM tool.  To utilize this you must reboot the system into the Windows Recovery Environment by either booting from media or choosing F8 on boot for a Windows 7/2008 R2 installation (WinRE is built into installations now).  Once you are in the WinRE environment, choose the command prompt option and switch to the root directory of the Windows installation you are repairing.

The run the following command: DISM /image:<drive letter which holds the Windows directory>\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions.  A sample command for an installation installed to C:\Windows would be:

DISM /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions

Once this is done you should see some messaging that says:

Reverting pending actions from the image.... The operation completed.  Any revert of pending actions will be attempted after reboot.

Reboot your machine and you will now see a new splash screen that says "Reverting pending actions" with a progress indicator in replacement of the previous "Stage 3 of 3" screens.

Comments (7)
  1. Sorry Jack, with comments locked out like they were I didnt have the opportunity to write you back.  The WUSA tool is not available offline so you wont be able to use it in the way that you want to.  Let me know if you're still having issues and we can look at it.

  2. Well you'd need to determine where your Windows installation is when booted into WinRE.  To do this just do a DIR on each directory until you find it.

    Because you're trying to get out of a no-boot situation (correct?), I'd just run the command and see if that helps you out.  I dont have an offline image to play with right now to see if there is some other syntax issue you're hitting but it appears to be correct from what you have posted.

  3. Right now I am not sure on the plans to backport it but I will ask.  I dont know what kind of code work is involved to make that happen.  I do agree that it would be a good idea for Vista users.

     Update: This is not going to be backported to Vista, just wanted to make that clear.

  4. Said Nikjou says:

    What about Vista users? I know DISM doesn’t apply to Vista but surely MS could make a little cmdline tool to revert pending actions? On so so many Vista PCs I need to troubleshoot, I see systems stuck at this stage and they’re thinking of reinstalling the OS all over again.

  5. Jack says:

    Hi, I am having this exact problem right now.

    I tried this command which completed succusfully, although I never saw the screen you mention that should replace the "configuring your computer for windows" screen.

    I also tried uninstalling the package with dism, and deleting the pending.xml file, both of which made no difference.

    There were two other hotfixes installed at the same time before the problem starting occurring, and so I wish to try and uninstall them before resorting to a reinstall.

    The problem is the other two hotfixes appear to be MSP patches, and I can not uninstall them with dism.

    After doing some research, the wusa tool seems exactly what I need. However, trying to use wusa from with WinRE gives command not found.

    Is there any way to use wusa or msiexec from within WinRE, and is there any way to uninstall particular hotfixes that can not be uninstalled via dism?

  6. JeganS says:

    DISM.exe /Image:C: /Get-Packages – Error – No Image available

    DISM.exe /Image:E: /Get-Packages – Error – No Image available

    DISM.exe /Image:D: /Get-Packages – gives a warning that scratchsize space is not adequate and proceeded to list all packages.

    The last package was listed as 8/10/2010. I have done numerous updates since then. What is going on here? Am I doing something wrong?

  7. JeganS says:

    I can see the installed updates when I go to the control panel in safemode. Never knew that. I still haven't solved the problem thou. Apparently it is not the windows updates that is causing it. I flashed the bios too.

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