When you open the Services MMC (
services.msc) and double-click Windows Update service properties, the Start and Stop buttons are grayed out. Also, you may be unable to change the service Startup type.
In some cases, the Startup type dropdown list box may be available. However, attempting to change the service startup type and clicking Apply or OK causes Access Denied error.
This article tells you how to make the Windows Update service configurable (by administrators) using the Services MMC.
Windows Update Service Options are Grayed Out in Services MMC
The Windows Update service properties may be grayed out due to corrupt service security descriptors or tightened permissions. To reset the Windows Update service security configuration, follow these steps:
Open an admin Command Prompt window and run the following command:
sc.exe sdset wuauserv D:(A;;CCLCSWRPLORC;;;AU)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;SY)
The above command-line fixes the permissions for the Windows Update (
Restart Windows for the change to take effect.
The security descriptor (SDDL)
D:(A;;CCLCSWRPLORC;;;AU)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;BA)(A;;CCDCLCSWRPWPDTLOCRSDRCWDWO;;;SY) is the default security descriptor for Windows Update service in Windows 10.
The above SDDL translates to the following permissions (Discretionary Access Control List — DACL):
 ACCESS_ALLOWED_ACE_TYPE: NT AUTHORITY\Authenticated Users
 ACCESS_ALLOWED_ACE_TYPE: BUILTIN\Administrators
 ACCESS_ALLOWED_ACE_TYPE: NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM
It denotes that the builtin Administrators group and the SYSTEM account have full control (“SERVICE_ALL_ACCESS”) over the service. Authenticated Users have the right to query or start the service only.
Launch Services MMC and see if you can configure the Windows Update service now.
Alternately, if the Windows Update service security descriptors are corrupt or incorrect, the Windows Update Troubleshooter tool would offer to repair the problem automatically.
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About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.