UPDATE, December 4, 2016. Windows update works fine when you apply the solution described below. However, you may wish to consider whether you want to apply the "Roll-up" update until you understand the implications.
Please join us in a new discussion -- Windows Update -- How will it change your system?
Windows Update has become quite problematic for Windows 7 users. For the past year or so, we've been working to find a solution that will work for you. We have found one that has worked very well indeed for most.
On October 11, 2016 onwards, there was a very significant change in the way Windows Update works. Some may like it a lot. Some may dislike it intensely.
The Solution applies to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) systems
We emphasize that for this to work, you must follow exactly as this describes.
There are two main types of Windows 7 installations: 32 bit or 64 bit. You need to know what is installed in your computer. Click the Start globe, type system in the box. Choose System information in the list. The techie shorthand for 32 bit is x86 and for 64 bit is x64. While you are looking at the System information to verify whether yours is 32 or 64 bit, check to see if SP1 (Service Pack 1) has been applied. If you do not see SP1 there, yours has not been updated and the following instructions will not work.
1. Start Windows Update and change the Setting to Never check for updates. Close the Windows Update window. Some members recommend you return the setting to what ever you used before this operation, after you complete Windows Update. IF you do leave the setting at NEVER, Windows Update will no longer be automatic. From this point onwards, you are responsible for starting and installing updates. We recommend you do that a few days following the 2nd Tuesday each month.
2. Restart your computer.
3. You are now going to download and install either one or two updates manually. In most cases only the first (KB3138612) of these is needed. If that produces a result that says the update is not appropriate for you computer, you need to first install the 2nd of these (KB3020369), then install the first (KB3138612). Choose the one that is for your machine -- 32 bit (X86) or 64 bit (X64).
4. After restarting your computer, wait about 10 minutes until Windows Update completes its tasks. Do not use the computer for any other purpose during this wait period.
5. Start Windows Update. It will take only a few minutes (unless, of course it has been many months since the last update) to come up with a list and download the updates you select. The process is quite normal as it always was from this point onward.
If your computer has not been updated for a long time, it may take longer.