Installing and Deploying Updates for Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP2

About this guide

This guide is for system administrators who are installing software updates on Microsoft® Windows Server® 2003. It includes technical information, procedures, and recommendations for installing updates on multiple computers in a small business or corporate environment. Although this guide includes some basic operating system information, it assumes that you have a working knowledge of Windows Server 2003 and update installations. All of the examples in this guide use the format for 32-bit updates.

If you want to deploy the standalone version of a service pack or the service pack that is integrated with the operating system, see the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack Installation and Deployment Guide that applies to your service pack. (For example, the guide for Service Pack 2 is located at

What is an update?

This guide uses the term "update" to refer to any software update, including an update rollup, service pack, feature pack, critical update, security update, or hotfix that is released by Microsoft Corporation. For descriptions of the standard terminology that is used to describe Microsoft software updates, see article 824684 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base (

Although this guide uses update as a broad term, it is important that you know the following differences between hotfixes and service packs:

  • Hotfixes can be un-installed in the order they are installed.

  • Only the last installed service pack can be uninstalled.

  • Hotpatch command-line options are valid only for hotfixes, not for service packs.

You can install updates separately from the operating system or in combination with Windows Server 2003 (with or without a service pack). When you install an update, backup files are automatically created so you can remove the update later if you want to. The installation process also copies the new files to specific folders and updates registry settings.


Updates are applied only to software that is already installed. For example, if you remove a component and later reinstall it, you must reinstall updates that apply to that component. In addition, if you further add components to your computer that require this update, you must reinstall the update for it to apply to the new component.

Windows Server 2003 update files are named according to the following format: WindowsServer2003-KB######-XXX-LLL.exe. The symbols###### represent the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that explains the details about the update, XXX represents the version of the operating system (for example, x86), and LLL represents the language version of the update.

Updates are self-installing. There are two main types of update installations:

  • The standalone update installation  Use this installation to update computers that are already running Windows Server 2003.

  • The combination installation  Use this unattended installation to install an update in combination with an installation of Windows Server 2003, a service pack, or both.

The standalone update installation

During the standalone update installation, updates are applied to a computer that is already running an operating system. When you run the update program, it installs updated system files and makes the necessary registry changes. The installation is complete after the computer is restarted.

You can install the updates by running the WindowsServer2003-KB######-XXX-LLL.exe file, which extracts the update files and runs Update.exe. Update.exe registers the updates under the following registry keys:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Updates\Server2003\SP2\KB*######*

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Hotfix\KB*######*

For more information about Update.exe, read this white paper about the package installer for Windows and Windows components (

During the installation, information for removing the updates is stored in a hidden folder named %systemroot%\$NtUninstallKB*######*$. For information, see Removing updates.

Using Qchain.exe

Windows Server 2003 updates have Qchain.exe functionality built in as part of Update.exe. This means that you can install the service pack, and then install any number of updates without having to restart the computer between installations.

If multiple updates replace the same file, Update.exe ensures that the correct version of the file is retained. If you install multiple updates, be sure to use the /Z option so the computer does not restart after each update.

Command-line options for the update package

To customize your installation, you can use the following command-line options with WindowsServer2003-KB######-x86-LLL.exe and Update.exe.


If your service pack version was released after the updates and you were completing an unattended installation using either the /U (unattended setup) or /Q (quiet setup) option, the installation does not continue and no message appears.

Command-line option Description


Enables extended codes that return a detailed error message if the update installation fails. For more information, see "The Package Installer (Formerly Called Update.exe) for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems and Windows Components" (




Forces other applications to close after you install the update package and before the computer is restarted. You cannot use this option with /integrate, /L, and /Z.


Restarts the computer after the installation is complete, even if a restart is not required to complete the installation. This option does not force applications to close.


Integrates this software update into the path you specify. Be sure to provide the absolute path to your operating system source files. This option is the same as the /S option that was used by previous installers.


Lists installed updates.




Does not create backup files during setup. We do not recommend this option because backup files allow you to remove SP2 in the future. An entry for the update does not appear in Add or Remove Programs if you use this option.




Overwrites OEM files without prompting.




Uses quiet mode. This mode shows no user interface during the installation of the updates. This is the same as unattended mode, except that the user interface is hidden. No prompts will appear during the installation process.




Installs the update in unattended mode. Only critical error prompts and a progress bar will appear during the installation. By default, the program invokes the /Warnrestart option.




Does not restart the computer after the installation is complete, even if a restart is required to complete the installation.




Displays Help.

Installing updates on multiple computers

Although there are several methods that you can use to install an update (like using Systems Management Server or Windows Installer), the following procedure outlines how to run Update.exe manually using a distribution folder.


You must install the service pack either in combination with or before you install updates that were released after the service pack. Installing more recently released updates before you install the service pack can leave the system in an unstable state.

To install an update by running Update.exe

  1. Connect to the network or computer on which you want to create the distribution folder.

  2. In the shared distribution folder, create a folder for the update files. For example, to create a distribution folder named Update, type the following (using the appropriate drive letter):

    mkdir Drive:\Update

  3. Copy the Windows Server 2003 Update.exe program to the distribution folder that you created in Step 2. For example, to copy the Update.exe program to the distribution folder named Update, type:

    xcopy C:\WindowsServer2003-KB*######-*x86-LLL.exe Drive:\Update

  4. To install the update from the distribution folder, run the WindowsServer2003-KB*######-x86-LLL*.exe program. For example, to install the update from the distribution folder named Update, type:


  5. To ensure that your updates take effect, restart your computer after you finish installing all of the updates.

Installing several updates together

You can group multiple updates together in a batch file and install them as a unit. In this case, you do not need to restart your computer after you install each update. The update installer provides options that you can use when performing this type of installation. The following code is a sample batch file that installs updates and ensures that the correct files are replaced after the computer is restarted.

@echo off
set PATHTOFIXES=Drive:\update
%PATHTOFIXES%\WindowsServer2003-KB######-x86-LLL.exe /quiet /norestart
%PATHTOFIXES%\WindowsServer2003-KB######-x86-LLL.exe /quiet /norestart
%PATHTOFIXES%\WindowsServer2003-KB######-x86-LLL.exe /quiet /norestart


To ensure that the updates that you installed take effect, restart the computer if the batch file does not automatically restart it for you. If you want your computer to restart automatically, in the last update that you install, replace the option /Norestart with the option /Forcerestart.

The combination installation

The combination installation uses the update installation and integrated installation processes to install a service pack with one or more of the following:

  • Windows Server 2003

  • Other updates (such as feature packs, critical updates, or hotfixes)

  • Additional Microsoft and non-Microsoft software that might be included on a service pack CD

For a combination installation, you can include the components that you want to install as entries in the Svcpack.inf file along with the updates. You can also choose to install the service pack at the same time. This section provides instructions for using unattended setup mode to simultaneously install Windows Server 2003 and updates.

Installing a service pack and updates with Windows Server 2003

This section explains how to perform a combination installation from a distribution folder. This option installs a service pack and updates that are integrated with Windows Server 2003. A combination installation makes it unnecessary for you to perform separate installations of Windows Server 2003, a service pack, and the updates because it installs all of them together.

Preparing for the combination installation

Before you deploy the installation of Windows Server 2003 and the updates across a network, you must copy Windows Server 2003 and the update installation files to a shared folder and complete the steps described in To create and set up the required folders and files for Windows Server 2003.

If you are an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and you plan to install additional OEM files (such as device driver, application, or component files), create a \$1 subfolder within the \$OEM$ subfolder. The \$1 subfolder corresponds to %systemdrive%, which is the destination drive for the Windows Server 2003 installation.


If you want to include a service pack and updates in your deployment of Windows Server 2003, first you must integrate Windows Server 2003 with the service pack as described in the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack Installation and Deployment Guide that applies to your service pack. (For example, the guide for Service Pack 2 is located at Then you can integrate the updates, which will support the service pack.

For more information about how to integrate updates, see article 828930 in the Microsoft Knowledge Base about how to integrate software updates into your Windows installation source files (

To create and set up the required folders and files for Windows Server 2003

  1. Connect to the network or computer on which you want to create the distribution folder.

  2. Create a distribution folder by typing the following at the command prompt (using the appropriate drive letter):

    mkdir Drive:\WServer2003DIST

  3. Use the command xcopy to copy the files and subfolders from the integrated installation product disc that includes Windows Server 2003 and the service pack to the Drive:\WServer2003DIST folder.

    For example, if D is your CD-ROM drive, type:

    xcopy /E /I /V D:\ Drive:\WServer2003DIST

  4. Use /Integrate to run the update that you want to install by typing the following:

    WindowsServer2003-KB*######-*x86-LLL.exe /integrate: Drive:\WServer2003DIST

  5. Repeat this step for each update you want to include your deployment.

Deploying the combination installation

You can deploy the integrated installation of Windows Server 2003 and the updates to multiple computers from a distribution folder. During the standard installation process, Setup installs the operating system and applies the updates.


For more information about the following procedure, see the Microsoft Windows Corporate Deployment Tools User's Guide (Deploy.chm) included in in the \Support\Tools folder on your service pack CD.

To deploy the installation

  1. Verify that the installation and executable files for Windows Server 2003 and the updates exist in your distribution folder.

  2. Customize Windows Server 2003 Setup as necessary. For more information about customizing Windows Server 2003 Setup, see the Winnt32.exe command syntax topic in the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Professional Resource Kit Documentation on the Windows Deployment and Resource Kits Web site (

  3. Run Windows Server 2003 Setup. This deploys the installation of Windows Server 2003 and the updates to multiple computers from the distribution folder.

Removing updates

You can remove an update for Windows Server 2003 at a command prompt or by using Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel. If you want to remove updates, you must remove them in the reverse order of installation (that is, you must remove the most recently installed update first). For example, if you installed UpdateA before you installed UpdateB, you will need to remove UpdateB first to return your computer to its original state. This is because some updates share files.


You cannot remove updates that were installed using the combination installation method.

To remove an update at the command prompt

  1. Specify this location at the command prompt:


  2. Type "Spuninst.exe /option". Replace option with any of the following options:

Option Description




Removes the update in unattended mode.

(If you use this option, only critical error prompts appear while you uninstall the update.)




Removes the update in quiet mode.

(This is the same as unattended mode except that the user interface is hidden. If you use this option, no prompts appear while you uninstall the update.)




Does not restart the computer after the process of uninstalling the update is complete.




Forces other applications to close when the computer restarts after uninstalling the update.




Displays Help.

To remove an update for Windows Server 2003 by using Add or Remove Programs

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click Add or Remove Programs.

  3. Select the Show updates check box.

  4. Click the update that you want to remove, and then click Change or Remove.

  5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

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