How to Fix: Blank Compatibility Report (Windows Repair / Install)

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Infopackets Reader Jan G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thank you so much for your article on How to Fix: Windows Update Using an In-Place Upgrade. I have the dreaded 80070490 windows update error and can't seem to get past it. That said, I tried to do an in-place Windows Repair (as per your guide) but am having another problem. As Windows is getting ready to reinstall, the Windows Compatibility Report is blank, and won't let me proceed with the repair. I have tried doing a repair install on another machine and it works fine. Any ideas as to why the Compatibility Report window is blank and how I can fix it? "

My response:

Admittedly, I was perplexed as to why Jan could not proceed with the in-place Windows repair, and he agreed to let me connect to his machine via my remote desktop support service. Sure enough, the Compatibility Report window was blank when attempting to run setup.exe from the Windows DVD.

At this point, I remembered that I have encountered this problem a few times before while fixing customers' computers. For example, there is a bug in Windows such that if the user name currently logged into Windows has an '&' (ampersand) sign, the Compatibility Report will not proceed when performing an in-place upgrade. (I validated this fact by checking Jan's user name, and that was definitely the case). That said, another possibility is that the user account is corrupt and is causing issues, or it's also possible that an installed program or antivirus is causing the problem.

The solution therefore is to:

  • Temporarily enable the hidden Administrator account (in case the current user account is corrupt), and then run the in-place upgrade / repair that way.
     
  • Temporarily disable all startup programs that may be causing a conflict with the compatibility report.
     
  • Temporarily disable antivirus (which can cause problems during a windows reinstall).

How to Fix: Blank Compatibility Report (Windows Repair / Install)

Here are the steps:

  1. First, run an administrative command prompt. Click Start and type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for the CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list and right click the icon and select Run as Administrator.
     
  2. A black administrative command prompt should now appear. Using your mouse, highlight the text below:

    net user administrator /active:yes
     
  3. Using your mouse, right click over top of the highlighted text above, and select Copy. Then, go to the command prompt window and right click in the middle of the window, select Paste from the dialogue menu, and press Enter on your keyboard. The line you copied in Step #2 should have output onto the command line.
     
  4. Next, we will temporarily disable items in your startup that may conflict with the Windows in-place repair install. To do so: click Start and type in "msconfig" (no quotes). When msconfig appears in the list, click on it. When the msconfig windows opens up, go to the Services tab and check mark the box that says "hide all Microsoft services". The msconfig window will refresh; next, click the "Disable all" button on the same window. All the items in your startup will now be disabled.
     
  5. Now, it's time to log out of the current user and sign on as the Administrator user you just enabled. You will probably want to print out this page or bookmark it and save the bookmark to your C:\ drive so you can come back to it, as the bookmark won't be in your browser when you sign on as Administrator.

    To log off and sign back in as Administrator, do the following: click Start, then click the arrow button on the "Shutdown" button, and then choose "Log off". This will log off your current user. When the Windows login page appears, click the Administrator account; you won't have to enter in a password. If you've never used the Administrator account before, Windows will initialize the desktop for the first time; this will likely take anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes or longer.
     
  6. Now that you are signed in as Administrator, disable your antivirus permanently. This is necessary as it will prevent installation errors and / or aborting of the in-place repair install; you can then re-enable the antivirus after the repair has succeeded.

    Since all antivirus programs are different, the general steps to disable the antivirus permanently are as follows: go to your tray bar (near the clock) and expand all the icons so they are showing (if they are not all showing). Look for your antivirus program in the tray bar, then right click its icon and select an option to disable the antivirus permanently. For example: when using Avast! the option is "Avast Shields control -& Disable permanently".
     
  7. Optionally, create a backup of the system before attempting the repair. There is always a chance that something could go wrong during the repair process and can leave you with an unbootable system. For this task I recommend using Acronis True Image as it can backup the entire hard drive -- including the operating system. If something goes wrong, you can restore from backup.
     
  8. Now you are ready to perform the in-place repair. Insert the Windows DVD / USB into the system and run the setup.exe. Choose "Upgrade" even though you're not upgrading (you are performing a repair). The "upgrade" will keep your installed programs and user data in place. Follow the instructions on the screen and Windows will take care of the rest. The process will likely take an hour or more to complete.
     
  9. Assuming all went went you can log back into the system using your regular account. The next step is to disable the Administrator account that you enabled in Step #2. To do so: click Start and type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for the CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list and right click the icon and select Run as Administrator. A black administrative command prompt should now appear. Using your mouse, highlight the text below:

    net user administrator /active:no

    Next, right click over top of the text above and select Copy. Now, go to the administrative command prompt and right click in the middle of the window. Select Paste from the dialogue menu, then press Enter on the keyboard to execute the command.
     
  10. Now it's time to re-download all your windows updates; to do so, click Start and type in "windows updates" (no quotes) and press Enter. Then, do a scan and Windows will search for updates. The scan process will take quite a while to complete (up to 20 minutes). After that, you will have a ton of updates to download.

Hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Help: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or you still can't get Windows Update to work properly, I can assist you using remote desktop support. Simply contact me and we'll set up a time to meet and discuss your options.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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