Last night I spent a significant amount of time working on a Windows XP Service Pack 3 machine. The symptom was that when you went to do a Windows Update or Microsoft Update you would ultimately get an error code: 0x8007041d
I ultimately learned that error code 0x8007041d means that the Automatic Update service cannot start. In fact, to save time, I ultimately just kept trying to start the "Automatic Update" service after each thing I tried, and once it finally started, I knew it was fixed and then Windows Update worked normally.
I tried a multitude of things and I wanted to list them all here, because each of the steps seem to have varying degrees of success for others in correcting this issue.
You do not have to do these in any particular order, it is just the order in which I did it until I found the ultimate cure.
Try the Microsoft Fix It:
Download the Windows Update Agent installer to the root of your C: drive.
Then run this command from a command prompt:
In my case, the above resulted in the same error code of 0x8007041d.
Create a batch file and run these commands to re-register DLL files:
regsvr32.exe qmgrprxy.dll /u
regsvr32.exe qmgr.dll /u
regsvr32 wuaueng.dll /u
regsvr32 wuapi.dll /u
regsvr32 wups.dll /u
regsvr32 wups2.dll /u
regsvr32 wuweb.dll /u
Delete a folder called wups.dll which is found here:
(It will be re-created when you attempt to run Windows Update again)
[STEP 5 - My Ultimate Fix]
This next command will require the Windows CD. In my case, I copied the contents of the i386 folder from a Windows XP SP3 CD to the root of the C: drive. Then when prompted, point to the C:\i386\ folder.
Run this command:
%SystemRoot%\System32\rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 %SystemRoot%\inf\au.inf
Hoping one of these will help someone else. This was a very aggravating problem for me.