Windows 10: Update installation error due to missing graphics driver update

Windows[German]In this blog post, I take up the case of a blog reader who, with a Windows 10 Pro system (it was a Medion brand device – a German subsidiary of Lenovo), faced the problem that the monthly cumulative updates failed. Error 0x80073701 was reported. Attempting to install Windows 10 Pro in current version via USB installation media ended with error 0x8007025D. At the end of the day, the blog reader found the cause – it was missing updates of the Intel graphics driver, which were made up manually and finally eliminated the update installation errors.


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I'm going to present the case chronologically, maybe it will help one or the other affected person in similar scenarios. Because on the basis of the described installation errors I probably would have been led in the wrong direction (I have to be careful, because I did not have the system in my fingers and have to make do with the details that are available to me by comment). At this point, in any case, my thanks to the blog reader for sending me the information. This at least gives me a way to break things down a bit.

Upgrade throws installation error 0x80073701

Back in April 2021, the blog reader had posted a comment on the German blog post Windows 10: Fix für Grafikprobleme bei Spielen nach April-Update, complaining about the 0x80073701 error in the monthly cumulative updates. Here is the translated comment:

My notebook does not have a graphics card from Nvidia, only an Intel OnBoard graphics. Nevertheless, since the release on April patchday, cumulative update KB5001330 aborts with error code 0x80073701 after prolonged installation attempts with lingering at 20%, 44% and 100%. To update would be Windows 10 Pro x64 20H2 (19042.867). Unfortunately, the only references on the net and in the forums are to disabling anti-virus software for a short time, which did not work with the only Microsoft Defender installed.

Would you have any idea where to look for the cause?

I do read all the comments that come in here on the blog. But to the question in the last sentence, I had no idea at all adhoc, and therefore did not answer in this case. Also the days after that nothing came under my eyes, which would have caused any insight of the kind "search in this direction".

The error code 0x80073701 stands for ERROR_SXS_ASSEMBLY_MISSING, i.e. Windows does not find an assembly file in the WinSxS folder during the update installation, which is needed for the package in question. In this folder many programs store their library files. If there a file is missing, referenced within the registry , the above error is thrown.

Error 0x80073701 is mentioned many times during update install, but there is no fixed clue about the root cause. I had picked up this error code within the blog post Windows 10 V1903: Install errors with Update KB4512508. The first approach would be to try the approaches described in the blog post Check and repair Windows system files and component store to get Windows 10 repaired with dism. But mostly this won't help, and at most you could try to evaluate files like the cbs.log to find out more if necessary. In most cases, however, a new installation will be necessary.


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Windows 10 Pro installation fails

However, the idea of a new installation or a repair via Inplace upgrade (install Windows 10 over the existing installation) failed. The German blog reader tried that, but failed. He left a comment at my German blog post Windows 10 Pro: Installation auf OEM-Maschinen (published in 2015). He wrote:

Hello,

could it be that the procedures described above have recently stopped working? On my notebook, which originally shipped with Windows 10 Home, I had installed Windows 7 Pro, since the 7 Pro key was not yet directly enterable at that time, and subsequently performed the successful migration to 10 Pro including activation. For some months now, the monthly cumulative updates have been failing regularly on this computer.

The current attempt to install Windows 10 Pro on a virgin hard disk using a USB stick created with the Media Creation Tool seems to ignore both ei.cfg and pid.txt because the required files are not available (0x8007025D). By the way, the stick was created on and for this computer and contains "only" the Pro version.

The error code 0x8007025D stands for ERROR_BAD_COMPRESSION_BUFFER, something is wrong with the installation media or with the unpacking of the relevant data. At this point, of course, you're screwed, which is why I didn't write anything about it.

The only thing I would have tried would be to mount the ISO file under Windows 10 and then try an inplace upgrade via setup.exe. Alternatively, it would be possible to copy the contents of the ISO file to a local folder after mounting, and then add an ei.cfg or pid.txt. Whether then the installation works, I can not currently judge.

Resolving the root cause of the error

The blog reader was of course faced with the problem that every month a cumulative update failed during installation. A few days ago, however, he came across the root cause of his update installation failures. He send me the other day a mail with the following content.

Hello Mr. Born,

in the last months I have sent two posts to different blog entries. Today I would like to share with you the cause that possibly other users stumbled upon.

At least since March'21 I could not update Windows 10 Pro (64bit) on a Medion Akoya notebook with Core i3-6100U and integrated graphics card (HD Graphics 520). The cumulative update package regularly failed with an unhelpful error code.

Finally, it turned out that Intel released a new driver version (21.20.16.5174 from 08.11.2020) for integrated graphics units, among others of the above mentioned processor, in November'20, which was not distributed via Windows Update, at least on my system.

After installing this driver, which can be found on Intel's official support site, Windows updated itself again. Likewise, the upgrade to 21H1 was successful.

Even though I visit your blog only irregularly, I would like to congratulate you on your blog, which – like your articles on heise online – exudes a certain seriousness and often provides background knowledge, which is also useful to non-IT people.

Have a nice Sunday and "keep up the good work".

This is of course a surprising solution – here in the blog there are indeed posts from time to time that deal with update problems and graphics drivers (see e.g. Windows 10 V1903: Update KB4517389 causes issues with Intel Graphics Driver). But the cause outlined here is not directly obvious. Maybe an analysis of the cbs.log data would have helped further, if a reference to the Intel graphics drivers was included. To do this, copy the CBS.log from the folder C:\Windows\Logs\CBS to the desktop and open it in an editor. Then you can go browse the entries and find the lines with the error code. Sometimes you will find a hint which files are criticized.

Additions from the blog reader

In the above text I have given some hints for general troubleshooting in such cases. The blog reader had a chance to read this text in advance and sent me some more comments. I simply post these here for your information. The reader provided the following additions to my conjectures and solutions above:

The thing with the dism command I had tried unsuccessfully in the meantime.

I was able to open the logfile in the editor, but the lines with the error messages did not point to the graphics driver problem.

The attempt to perform a repair installation with running Windows using an MCT stick also failed several times with the meaningless error code ("huge" time needed for the installation plus "eternal" time to reverse).

My idea to uninstall the last successfully installed updates (incl. the upgrade to 20H2) one by one only resulted in having "only" 20H1 on the computer for a few months …

Finally I removed the SSD with the faulty Windows installation and the data hard disk and replaced it with an empty hard disk. On this I installed Windows 10 Home(!) 21H1 by means of a MCT stick, which activated and updated itself, including the latest cumulative update. Only the graphics looked modest … which was also what the device manager thought.

Since neither the Windows update function nor the troubleshooter wanted to find a suitable driver on the computer or on the Internet, I went searching on the Intel site. With known result …

The removal and the manual installation of the graphics driver in the Pro installation then also moved the update function to cooperate again, so that in the meantime the cumulative July update was installed without errors.

With the additions, the shoe is on the other foot – it can be quite time-consuming to isolate and eliminate such an error, as the case shows.


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