Code 80243004 - Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

When trying to install Windows Updates, you receive the following error:

Code 80243004 - Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

Code 80243004 - Windows Update encountered an unknown error

This used to be a documented issue by Microsoft prior to them replacing the page with a fixit installer.  The solution is a super weird workaround.  Please follow the steps below for updates to continue installing.

  1. Right click on the taskbar and select Properties.
    Code 80243004 - Properties
  2. Click the Customize... button on the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window.
    Code 80243004 - Customize
  3. On the Notification Area Icons window, make sure Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar is checked and click OK.
    Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar
  4. At this point, try running Windows Update again and the updates should begin to install properly.

Not sure why this fixes the issue, but it worked for me on a couple of virtual machines running in a VMware environment.  An additional thing I noticed is you can see the tray has "null icons", where they are blanks of open applications; once you hover over them, they disappear/close.  Not sure if this is a bug with Windows and VMware VMs, but just thought it was a weird coincidence.  If you have had this same issue, could you please drop a comment below stating whether or not you received the same issue in a virtual environment?

122 thoughts on “Code 80243004 - Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

  1. Name

    Got this error in a VirtualBox-VM (Win7Ult64). Updated the machine a while ago, then used it, restored the old restore point to get a clean base, then tried to install updates. The symbols in the system tray where mostly blank, and when i hovered over them, they disappered. Must have been 10 or 20 blank symbols. Got 80243004, changed the Windows-Update-Symbol from "show notifications only" to "show notifications and symbol", working again. Strange.

  2. Gareth Lawson

    I had the same problem, but the check box for show all notifications was already checked and just clicking ok didn't solve the problem. I had to go back into the settings as described above and UNCHECK the show all notifications setting and that did the trick for me. I'm not sure if the server is a physical server or virtual, but I am pretty sure it is virtual (it is rented from a dedicated hosting provider). Windows Server R2 SP1 x64.

    1. Le Liang

      Thanks for the post. I got the same issue on a newly installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard on a physical machine. I followed your instructions and it worked.

  3. Tonia

    Had the same issue on some VMs in a VMWare environment. Changing the icon in the notification area immediately resolved the issue. Thanks for the post!

    1. Jack Post author

      Hiding or showing the icon will not prevent windows updates from installing. The referenced Microsoft article is worded poorly in stating that if you experience this error, Windows Updates will not install with the icon hidden. If you do not experience this error and hide the icon, Windows Updates will still install properly.


      1. Andrew

        Jack. When I selected show all icons, it did not work. Had to individually select to show icon and notifications. Retried the updates and it worked properly

  4. Ron DeFulio

    Wow.. I've seen a lot of ridiculousness from Microsoft but this one takes the cake.. Thanks for this! Toggled the box (was unchecked, checked it) saw a slew of empty icons, moved my mouse over them all to make them go away, then clicked "try again" and sure enough the updates started downloading. Thanks Micro$oft!

  5. Rushikesh Kalyani

    Thank you so much Jake ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    This worked like a charm for me ๐Ÿ˜›

    I too having this VM in VMware environment with exact same symptoms you mentioned.

    Bust still I am wonder, what the hell is this ๐Ÿ™

    Anyways.. Thank you so much again!!


  6. Peter Engrav

    Thanks! Had somewhat ancient Win Server 2008 R2 guest running on 2012 R2 Hyper V host, hadn't updated in ages, tried to catch up, hit exactly this. Fix worked! Crazy. You should add "hold your nose and spin around once clockwise" to the incantation...

  7. Aron

    Worked for me! Thanks so much.
    Now this is supper supper weird, what is the connection of this setting to the bug??
    What I'm more amazed is, how in the world did you figure that???????


  8. James

    I'm running three Windows 2008 R2 servers in Hyper-V 2012 R2 and was having the same issue. I used your fix and it worked. Thanks for helping me quit pulling my hair out.

  9. Theo

    I looked at this fix and thought WTF are these people thinking.
    Tried the Fix and my VM is now updating......

    And Thanks for the FIx

  10. Alain Therrieur

    Wow Windows 7 x64 running on hyper-v 2012R2. Checking the always show notification fixed the windows update issue. Wth microsoft why u do this

  11. Seth Lipscher

    This absolutely worked on my non-vm physical PC. No reboot or anything. Just checked that box and updates started working.

  12. Steve

    We have 12 VMware virtual servers, most 2012/R2 but a couple 2008 and R2. Our print server is 2008 R2 and it refused to update, coming back with Error Code 80243004. This workaround did the trick perfectly! Thanks for the advice.

  13. Bugenhagan

    Came across this article when I ran to this error on a desktop on our LAN. Makes no sense to me how this would work but it sure did. Thanks!

  14. Lydia Rice

    Many thanks. This fixed it for me, too. I had the problem running a VM under AWS, which may be VMWare inside for all I know, but it could just as easily be some mutant home-grown Amazon virtualisation platform.

  15. Jeff

    This worked perfectly on Win 2008 vms running on vmware that I have never been able to get to sucessfully update. I really wish I knew why this worked. How did you discover this trick????!

  16. Kevin

    Too funny everyone, Thanks JS, totally saved my a$$ from having to report 4 fails tomorrow morning ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Amit Shetye

    Its awesome... in first look I was thinking is it the solution? but yes its worked for me.. !! Thanks you.

  18. Pedro

    That was a totally random solution. I could never think of something like this myself. But it works like a charm, so crazy how Windows OS is.... Btw, you did find this issue yourself by trial and error? It is just curiosity, because no relationship can be established if u didn't program Windows and know whats going behind it.

    1. Jack Post author

      Just a combination of what others have posted around the web and filtering out what did and didn't work for me.

  19. Per

    Worked for me as well, thanks for posting this! Windows Server 2008 R2 x64. STRANGE! ๐Ÿ™‚ But happy to get the patches in to hopefully get rid of WannaCry... ๐Ÿ™

  20. Dale

    Dell Asus X401A, Windows 7 Pro (upgrade from Win 7 Home). Switching back and forth from checking and un-checking "Always show all icons" to run updates. Had a few empty icons that did not go away after hovering or clicking on them. Thank you Jack!

  21. Sam

    Colour me stunned but super happy! 43 critical updates, 10 optional ones, and no luck for two days, then I find this page and BAM! All downloaded and installed within a few hours. Windows 7 Home Premium, the laptop hasn't been out of it's bag for over TWO YEARS, but YAAY! It's now available for my latest project....

  22. liktor

    Old, but gold ๐Ÿ™‚ This post helped me with an old machine, thank you. This taskbar-thingy-quick-fix magic saved my day. One of my friend told me: This is an easter egg with bug which fix another issue ๐Ÿ˜€

  23. Kosuke

    I had exactly same issue on VMWare virtual machine environment and this works!!
    Thank you so much for sharing this info!!

  24. Anna

    Thank you very much Jake!
    I have a 2008 r2 on a VMware environment, with all the symptoms you mentioned. The solution you shared with us allowed the installation of the WU.

  25. M. Woodland

    Running Windows 2008 R2 on VM. This fixed the Error code 80243004 issue and allowed me to install Windows updates. Many thanks!!

  26. Dave P

    Definitely an odd solution. It would be interesting to hear the backstory on how this was discovered.

    Thanks for writing up this 'fix'

  27. chad

    I really can't believe this just worked. I mean, a part of me expected nothing less, but I really doubted it.

    Thanks for the post and saving me from having to wade through MS documents.

  28. Douglas Schmidt

    It worked. Seems like a strange fix, but hey it worked, and the updates are now applying. I had the additional problem first that the update service was not running so had to recreate the SoftwareDistribution file by stopping, renaming the file, then starting the service wuauserv:
    net stop wuauserv
    ren c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution softwaredistribution.old
    net start wuauserv
    This was done from an administrator command prompt.

  29. Noel

    Thanks Jack it worked for me on a Dell Latitude laptop running windows 7. I checked the show all notifications and icons in taskbar and saw all the blank programs as you stated and they disappeared as I hovered over all of them. Then I tried to install updates again and it worked. About to restart the laptop now. Thanks again.

  30. Richard In Willesden

    Worked for me with Win 7 Home Premium. Last updated 6 months ago with no issue, laptop (Acer Aspire 1410) then not used until now and suddenly the problem occurred. Update worked but Taskbar not working properly for some reason which I'll investigate....

  31. Obduratekitti

    Thanks! Worked like a charm. Windows 7, and my computer hasnโ€™t been turned on in a year.

  32. robert d

    worked for me. I hadnt updated since Aug of 2017, so that may have been the issue. Im running Win7 Home Premium 64bit (home built comp).

  33. Dirk J Karrenbauer

    Worked for me as well. That is one crazy programming bug that if the update process cant show the pop-up bubble that windows updates are starting the whole thing just hangs

  34. Steve

    I cannot believe it, but this fix really did work. i've been pulling my hair out for days before finding this article.
    Thanks for the help

  35. Oliver Vollmer

    I... am surprised this worked. Bit of info and perhaps to help keep this at the top of the Google Search results for Windows Update Code 80243004:
    Server 2008 R2 virtual machine running on VMware ESXi 5.5u3 behind proxy

    So, yeah, virtual environment and there were so many null icons in the taskbar that it had to scroll to show them all. Mousing over them as usual removed all but 4 blank/null icons and Windows Update miraculously installs.


  36. Arnout

    And another data point: perfectly did the trick to get Windows Update working again in a year-old Windows 7 VM on vSphere 6.5.


  37. Ajim

    It worked on Windows 7 Pro 64 bit SP1.
    My windows update now downloading the update and installing normally.
    I get a lot of empty boxes when I expand and show all the notification.
    Even my Lenovo Solution Center able to install a new version.
    Weird but it worked! Thank you so much

  38. David

    Brilliant. Thanks Jack. Another great solution for a problem that shouldn't exist (looking at you Microsoft). Worked perfectly on a physical Win7 workstation.

  39. Stephen

    I had this same issue with a NOT VIRTUALIZED instance of Windows 7 x64. Same as you, I tried all the standard fixes, but when I googled the error code I came across several forums suggesting this fix.

    I had 67 updates fail, checked that box, hit ok, then hit the try again button and at this point, I'm at 17 of 67 completed.

  40. Marvin Masson

    Strangely enough, that worked for me as well. Now I have this massive system tray showing too many icons. Still I'm just happy to get updates. Once its finished, I'll uncheck that box and we will be all good. Thanks!

  41. Nano

    Eres un genio!!!, llevo 2 horas tratando de encontrar una soluciรณn. jajajaja

    Que rara soluciรณn pero funciono y es lo que importa.

    Gracias amigo.

  42. David Casassa

    I found that checkbox already checked, so I cleared it, re-checked it and hit "Cancel" to close the properties dialog, to no effect, right? Not so fast. Best I can figure, opening the dialog and fiddling with that checkbox causes something else, logically unrelated, to re-initialize as a side effect, because my updates then succeeded. Sounds like some ugly coding practices, sharing data and/or code, which nobody can document or understand at MS, for something so impactful, so visible, and, well, embarassing, to have hung around for so long. Sad!

  43. Bruce K

    My Significant Other thanks you for the fix! Fortunately, this is the last remaining vestige of Windows in our household. I use only Linux and have never have experienced an update (or other) break since adopting the platform 8 years ago. She has become addicted to the iPad I bought her for Christmas, so it's more than likely this laptop will soon be scrapped in favor of a Mac. I really appreciate your help, but the upkeep of Microsoft products just wastes too much of our productive time (especially after first researching this error on Microsoft Support!).

  44. abs

    1st post/reply 2014
    Today 17/03/19
    = nearly 5 full years....... and still happening
    SBS 2011 virgin inststall / physycal machine (not VM)
    Last update that was stuck in the loop of not being able to install = kb2992611
    Based on above input(s) & coments = DID the trick
    Thank you very much

  45. Nick

    Wow, as others have stated, it is now 4-2019 and Microsoft has not found a way to get around this without this ridiculous workaround! Thankfully we have some pretty sharp people out that that are willing to share their success...THANK YOU!

  46. Allen

    yeah, wow!
    Weve had the null icon thing going on in our deployment image for years. The occasional update issue - never put the two together. Thanks!

    PS, its not just VMs, this occurs on baremetal systems as well

  47. stine

    I just had this issue on a rather old machine running Windows 7 x64 that was last patched in Feb 2019. The one thing I noticed is that the text baloon telling me that updates were being installed did not get displayed until I followed your instructions above. The prior setting were Always Show All Icons and Notifications on the taskbar.

    I have a feeling that this has been caused by the soon to be deployed "Windows 7 will no longer be supported" notifier.

    Just my $0.02

  48. Andrew Welsch

    Same symptoms, also running on VMware and got code 8023004. None of the usual troubleshooting did anything but this worked. The KB doesn't really say this anymore... not sure why they insist on moving their solutions to places we can't easily find them. This fix worked for us.

  49. Asim

    wow - never thought it would work as you described it above - thanks for sharing -it did work and i can see it downloading the MS Updates.

    Best regards from Canada

  50. Susan

    Unbelievable. Windows 10 laptop, not a VM. Checkbox did not work, but setting Windows Update to always show icons in toolbar did. Thanks so so much!

  51. RCaddy

    Not only did it solve the update issue but it also solved my nearly full screen of blank icons on the taskbar..

    Server 2008 R2

    Thank you so much.

  52. Chris

    Works for some crazy reason. Nothing else did.

    Still have a few blank icons, but can't figure out how to fix.


  53. Sam

    I cannot believe this. It worked on a Windows 7 VM that had been updated last year without issues. It's incredible. Thanks!

  54. Kurt Gengenbach

    Patching all of our servers due to "Print Nightmare," some of my servers would not allow updates. I tried everything and this fixed it. I owe you a cup of coffee. Thanks!


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