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Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 - 0% Complete. Do not turn off your computer.

I ran Windows update on my Vista Business edition yesterday. It shut down and restarted, but eversince has been in an endless loop between "Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 - 0%" and shutting down.
I've tried deleting pending.xml from C:\windows\winsxs directory using the ThinkVantage repair options.
I've seen this and see that 2/3 solutions involve a restore point, which i don't think i have, unless it's automated somehow and is there i just don't know it.
Rebooting into safe mode just returns to the 'configuring updates screen'.
Rebooting from an iso image of Vista SP1 doesn't work, as various files aren't found.

I'm getting really tired of this. It's been in this loop for nearly 18 hours now. Any ideas what's going on and how to get my system back?
1 Solution
Have you tried "last known good configuration"?

This option should be available to you on the advanced startup menu.  (Same screen you go to select safe mode).
You mean, you already tried these: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949358?
MMarlin7Author Commented:
S54: yes i tried that. Just went straight to the 'configuring 3/3' screen
McKnife: yes, that's where i got those ideas from.
Solution: built an 'Ultimate Boot Disk for Windows', booted with that, gave myself perms to delete pending.xml, deleted it, rebooted. On startup the 'configuring 3/3' screen appeared one more time.
Very helpful: www.ubcd4win.com
MMarlin7Author Commented:
If you close this, will it still be searchable later? What does "PAQ'd" mean?
Question PAQ'd, 500 points refunded, and stored in the solution database.

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