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Microsoft Issues Workaround for WSUS 0xc1800118 Error Affecting Windows 10 Updates

Microsoft this week announced some steps to address problems in getting Windows 10 version 1607 via the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) management solution.

Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1607, otherwise known as the "anniversary update" on Aug. 2. However, the woes associated with getting it via WSUS have been continuing for some organizations over the last few weeks. Initially, Microsoft had issued a bad update for WSUS to prepare it to receive the Windows 10 bits. That bad update was superseded by patch KB3159706. IT pros still had to perform manual configuration steps to get WSUS in order, even with patch KB3159706 installed.

The latest WSUS problem for organizations trying to get the Windows 10 anniversary edition bits shows up as "error 0xc1800118." The anniversary edition upgrade fails to install and IT pros instead see a bunch of error messages.

Microsoft signaled on Wednesday in a blog post that it now has some workaround steps available in its new Knowledge Base article KB3194588 to address the 0xc1800118 error and get the Windows 10 version 1607 bits streaming again.

Alas, IT pros will have to roll up their sleeves, yet again, to carry out this workaround, as KB3194588 isn't just a simple patch. Moreover, they may have gotten error 0xc1800118 after properly following Microsoft's earlier advice to prepare WSUS for the anniversary update by installing KB3159706. Plenty of the people complaining in Microsoft's forum page said that they had installed KB3159706 before trying to get the Windows 10 version 1607 bits. That claim is echoed in a Spiceworks forum post, as well as a Reddit forum post.

Microsoft acknowledged that people experiencing the problem had installed KB3159706. It attributed the 0xc1800118 error to bad timing.

"The problem could be resulting from syncing the [Windows 10] updates before applying KB3159706," Microsoft's KB3194588 article speculated.

Organizations need to have KB3159706 installed if they want to use Windows 10 and continue to keep it updated. Microsoft established a new encrypted download scheme for Windows 10 that kicked in after May 1, and WSUS has to be properly patched to decrypt the Windows 10 updates released after that date. The KB3159706 patch allows WSUS to "natively decrypt Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) in Windows Server and Windows Server 2012 R2," per KB3159706's description of what it does.

Error 0xc1800118 happens because the Windows 10 bits are arriving but are still encrypted. As such, they become unusable for WSUS. Here's how Steve Henry, a program manager on the Microsoft WSUS team, described it in the blog post:

In this scenario, WSUS has downloaded content that it cannot use. Because parsing only happens once, and WSUS does not know what "Upgrades" are without having installed KB 3159706, it incorrectly identifies the upgrade as a quality update and saves it to the SUSDB (and managed clients) as such. This will cause any future deployment of this content to fail until the patch is applied, unusable content is purged, and WSUS properly syncs the information.

Apparently, the problem still happened for some organizations, even with KB3159706 installed, because of sync timing. Manual steps are still needed to address the problem after applying KB3194588 because "encrypted content involves a few more steps in order to fully clean your WSUS and its affected clients," Henry explained.

There was no indication from Henry that a patch for the problem would be coming. It seems that IT pros in affected organizations will have to trudge through the manual steps listed in KB3194588 if they want to update Windows 10 clients using WSUS.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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