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Jim Carter's Bugfixes

Windows Vista Service Pack Won't Install

James F. Carter

Microsoft Windows Vista Service Pack 2 is downloaded. It goes through the whole installation procedure without error, reboots, gets to 100% of Stage 3 of 3, and then announces Service Pack did not install. Reverting changes. On the next login it exudes a dialog box saying Installation was not successful. Unspecified error. Details: Error: E_FAIL(0x80004005).

A forum poster reports the same problem with SP1, and I wouldn't be too surprised to find the same problem with XP service packs.

What's going on:

In this forum posting look for Sekim's contribution. He refers to KB971204 which suggests: Look in %windir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log ; you may see that C:\Windows\bfsvc.exe reports Failed to get system partition! Last Error = 0x3bc3. If third party disk management tools are used to "clone" discs or partitions, the SP2 installer will be unable to uniquely identify the correct system boot files. (This is my situation.)

In other words, the service pack replaces the Windows kernel and the bootloader (equivalent of grub), and it will need to fill the block numbers into the boot sector of the partition containing the bootloader. If it cannot identify the partition it will be unable to do this last critical step of installation. It should check the partition at the beginning, but it doesn't.

How to fix:

Make the possibly confusing drives disappear (impossible for me) or do a clean installation. Various successful workarounds mentioned in forum postings include:

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