BSOD – Session Manager Initialization fails with status 0xc000026c

A couple days ago I ran into a weird problem on a customer’s computer and I had such a hard time figuring out what it was, I thought I’d add it in my tips section.  From what I’ve been able to gather, the problem occurs mostly with Windows XP SP2, but it could also be present with other variations.

It was a simple service call and after everything was done, I rebooted the computer to make sure everything was ok.. well, after that, the machine never restarted.  It simply kept looping, while on the windows logo screen, I could see the blue screen flashing and then it would restart.

At this point, I tried safe mode in all its forms and tried “Last Known Good Configuration” etc.. nothing worked.  I couldn’t run System Restore because windows did not even start.  So I used the F8 option to Disable auto reboot on BSOD and finally saw the actual Blue Screen message:

c000021a Fatal System Error
The Session Manager Initialization system process terminated unexpecedly with a status of 0xc000026c

A few Googles on the subject helped piece together a solution.  The problem is caused by a Windows Update known as KB925902.  The patch wasn’t installed recently.. it’s been on the machine for at least 6 months, but something must have triggered the problem.

The Solution:

Apparently there are a few variations on how the problem presents itself, so if windows starts in safe mode, I would go for a System Restore or use the Add/Remove programs section to remove that update.

What I had to do was to remove the update manually using the Recovery Console.  here’s how to do it:

  1. Boot with your original Windows XP CD.  You need one which will allow you to get into the Recovery Console.
  2. Once booted, choose to use the Recovery Console, usually by pressing “r”.
  3. You may need to press “enter”  here to choose a different keyboard layout, otherwise you might have a hard time typing the next commands.
  4. Choose which Windows installation you need to log into.  if there’s only one on that machine, it will be “1″.
  5. Type in the Administrator password.  Yes, there is one, you had to supply one during the Windows XP installation.
  6. Change folders using: cd WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB925902$\spuninst
  7. Run this command in the folder: batch spuninst.txt
  8. If the command ran correctly, you should see a spuninst.tag file, using the “dir” command.
  9. reboot the computer.

At this point the computer should boot properly and you should install SP3 and other patches to prevent this problem from happening again.

If the spuninst.tag file doesn’t exist, you may have received a bunch of errors instead.  Joyful.  There are a few reasons why this could happen, one of which is if your windows isn’t really installed on the c:\ drive, even if the Recovery Console always names it that way.  To remove the patch manually, type in these commands: (make sure you replace the drive and path if required, depending on your installation)

  • DEL “c:\windows\$hf_mig$\kb925902\mf3216.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\$hf_mig$\kb925902\gdi32.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\$hf_mig$\kb925902\user32.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\$hf_mig$\kb925902\win32k.sys”
  • DEL “c:\windows\system32\dllcache\gdi32.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\system32\dllcache\mf3216.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\system32\dllcache\user32.dll”
  • DEL “c:\windows\system32\dllcache\win32k.sys”
  • COPY “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\gdi32.dll” “c:\windows\system32\gdi32.dll”
  • COPY “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\mf3216.dll” “c:\windows\system32\mf3216.dll”
  • COPY “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\user32.dll” “c:\windows\system32\user32.dll”
  • COPY “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\win32k.sys” “c:\windows\system32\win32k.sys”
  • COPY “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\spuninst\spuninst.txt” “c:\windows\$NtUninstallKB925902$\spuninst\spuninst.tag”

I hope this helps someone out there because there aren’t many solutions for this problem and it took me so much time to piece together the solution.  Let me know it there are any errors and if it works for you.

63 Thoughts on “BSOD – Session Manager Initialization fails with status 0xc000026c

  1. Thanks very much for this. I just applied your solution to my mother’s PC and it worked perfectly.

    One minor comment. In the instruction box you have the slashes running / instead of \. I misread one of the “l’s” from Uninstall for a slash. Quickly sorted out though.


  2. Thanks for dropping by John!

    I changed the slashes in the box as you mentionned. thanks for that.. must be a Linux habit ;-)

  3. pickle on March 10, 2009 at 6:17 pm said:

    Pascal, you’re the man! I have a client who also had this same issue… after slaving the drive into my PC and running these deletes/copies, his computer booted up on first try. Thank you for taking the time to post this, I really do appreciate it.

  4. Thanks a lot for giving such suggestions.

    Generally: If there is such a message “c000021a Fatal System Error
    The Session Manager Initialization system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc000026c”
    after an update run, the “batch spuninst” within repair mode will solve this problem.

    The only one problem is to examine which update is wrong. To uninstall all updates of the last run would be the best.

    Thanks again!

  5. I had this Problem after installing KB938464-v2$, KB958690$, KB959772_WM11$, KB960225$ on a fine running WIN XP SP3.
    After uninstall of them all everthing worked correctly.

  6. fistikuffs on March 23, 2009 at 11:39 am said:

    Many many thanks for this. Like the first comment i had this problem with my mothers laptop and i had no idea but this worked great. Thanks again

  7. Always nice to hear that it helped someone :-)

  8. acunat2 on March 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm said:

    I just got the error message a couple of days ago, your solution will it apply for XP pro SP2 ? or only if I have SP3 since I am not a computer whiz, I am afraid to delete any of the syntax.

  9. Acunat2: the solution is especially for XP SP2 so it should work for you. You only need to install SP3 after the fix to make sure all your files are up to date.

  10. acunat2 on March 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm said:

    Thank you, I can now breath more easily with your vore of confidence…

  11. acunat2 on March 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm said:

    I forgot to ask you, will I lose any data like pix and ppt ?

  12. If you do this correctly, you shouldn’t lose anything of your data. This basically reverses the effect of the problematic update and nothing else. So, even if it doesn’t fix your problem, you shouldn’t lose any data.

  13. I’m having this problem and since I bought my computer used (surplus from a university) I dont have a Windows XP install CD. There is a colorful Windows COA sticker on the PC. Is there some way using another Win XP computer to create a disc to boot the console???

  14. Hi Greg,

    To access the Recovery Console, you can run it directly from the Windows XP installation CD or install it on your computer. You need to be careful which version of Windows is installed and which CD you use. For instance, if the computer is running XP SP2 or higher, you cannot use the previous versions of the XP installation (original or SP1).

    Microsoft has a very complete series of articles for the Recovery Console, how to install and run it, here:

    Hope this helps!

  15. Vamsi on April 3, 2009 at 5:32 am said:

    I am getting the same error, when I am trying to install XP on a system with a New Hard disk ( No OS already installed ). Can the above solution be applicable in this case ??

    Thanks in advance.

  16. Vamsi:

    it all depends on a few factors. First, I assume there is no Windows installed on that machine, so the error would not be caused by a patch that was applied. BUT… if you are using a slipstreamed CD (meaning a CD that already has a bunch of patches, and probably SP2 already applied) then yes, you could be having the same issue.

    If my assumption is correct, I would suggest getting your hands on a Windows XP CD that has no services packs and patches in it and see it that works. Then when you apply the updates, make sure you do not let the problematic one get installed.

  17. Sierra119 on April 19, 2009 at 12:44 am said:

    Thank you so much Pascal for your post! You are lifesaver! I’ve been having issues with my comp for 4 days. Its been a nightmare.

    My comp was recently invaded by a worm and i managed to rid of it in time but the frustrating damage it did has taken me so long to repair. Your post was my last issue and now everything is perfectly.

    This has nothing to do with the current subject but did you know that Pascal is of Latin origin and its meaning is “Easter Child”. I’m not sure if that’s your real name but its kinda interesting to know. I only know that b/c my sister gave me a Red-tail Emperor boa for Easter and she named it that and told me the story. Anyways im rambling thanks again!

  18. Hi Sierra119, Always love to hear that this post helps many people :-)

    Yes that is my real name and you are right, it is indeed related to Easter!

  19. thank you!!! worked beautifully on my dell inspiron 6000 running xp. It was bizarre because I hadn’t downloaded any updates the last few logins, so it must have run into something many iterations later. You are a life saver.

  20. Wim on May 4, 2009 at 4:14 pm said:

    I have an OEM version of WinXp, and the recovery disks that came with my machine will basically reset my machine to the state it was in when it left the factory.

    No chance to use the Recovery Console.

    So, I booted the PC with UBCD4WIN (Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows) and then I could run “batch spuninst.txt”. Of course, this can also be accomplished with a BartPE or a Reatogo CD instead of UBCD4WIN.

    Anyway, your explanation saved me countless hours! Thanks.

  21. Thanks for stopping by Wim… always glad to help!

  22. Great – Thanks a lot; saved me from re-installing or repairing that XP on my clients HDD !!!

  23. Larry on June 13, 2009 at 11:43 am said:

    Thank you so much!!!

    I have been getting blue screens of and on for about 4 months now. Today, I couldn’t even boot into safe mode. I applied this uninstall and now everything is golden again!


  24. Larry on June 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm said:

    Update – I went to Microsoft Update to hide KB925902 from showing up on future updates, and two new hotfixes showed up. I installed them both, rebooted, and now the same error is happening. I went into recovery console and searched by date for the hotfixes I just installed (using DIR $*), but nothing shows up for today.

    Any thoughts on what these two new hotfixes could be? I am going to try and uninstall the KB925902 from my desktop (that doesn’t have this issue) to see if they will show up on Windows Update there.

    I would appreciate any help / advice you can give!

  25. Ryan on June 15, 2009 at 8:53 am said:

    Had my client’s computer up and running in 30 minutes. Thanks!

    I used Bart-PE to boot the computer, and the “batch” command wasn’t available in the command prompt, so as a workaround I ran the command “copy spuninst.txt spuninst.bat” and executed the batch file – produced the same result. Just FYI if anyone else is using Bart-PE/a similar boot CD.

  26. Nathaniel on June 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm said:

    You are a genius. Thanks for your help!! I didn’t have the KB installed that you indicated, but I ran the dir command and then ran your command on the 2 updates that had run most recently based on their dates. Rebooted into windows successfully.

  27. Nathaniel on June 25, 2009 at 8:35 am said:

    One update, now my keyboard and mouse don’t work after boot-up. It just sits at the welcome screen. Tapping the power button does shut it down, so I know it isn’t locked-up. It looks like a windows repair-install is in my future after all. :-(

  28. Well what are the update you removed manually? If you are using USB keyboard and mouse, you may want to try PS/2 models in case it is just the USB drivers that are broken.

  29. Nathaniel on June 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm said:

    I removed KB968537 and KB969898. I only had a wireless PS/2 Keyboard and then also a USB mouse and Keyboard. Noe of them respond after windows boot completes. I think I will try this process to remove the drivers from the recovery console:

    I guess the other option is to restore the registry. to the original and then backed up versions via the recovery console. I might try that before I go through the pain of a repair install.

    Thanks for the response Pascal. I have at least learned a little more about the power of the recovery console.


  30. Nathaniel on June 30, 2009 at 8:49 am said:

    Final update, I did the windows repair install. It was successful. I was careful when installing the last update which was KB968537. On the boot after installing this update, I received the Blue Screen stop that this post is dedicated to. I was able to run the uninstall of this update from the recovery console and the BSOD was resolved. As this security update is not a big deal for this machine, I have disabled the update from running.

    Some notes on this machine. It is a Dell Dimension. It is running Norton security tools. I suspect that Norton may be conflicting with the update on my machine. I don’t intend to troubleshoot this issue further as the machine is in working condition.

    Pascal, thanks again for this resource. It was the key that allowed me to repair the machine.


  31. Thanks Nathaniel for the updates! This wouldn’t be the first conflict I have seen with Norton’s wonderful security products… My biggest problem was with Symantec EndPoint Security; it feels like such a bloat-ware product and it has caused countless problems in the places I have seen it being used.

    Glad you finally got your system up and running!

  32. Alessandro on June 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm said:

    Thanks Pascal, it worked like a charm!

    Since I didn’t have the WinXP install CD anymore, I used a Knoppix Linux boot CD, then I manually uninstalled KB925902.

    Some of the paths of the files I deleted and copied were in slightly different than above. I suggest using exactly the commands listed in “C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB925902$\spuninst.txt”.

  33. Alessandro: you are absolutely right, if you are going to be uninstalling this (or any other) update manually, you should take a look at the contents of the spuninst.txt before you do anything. Make sure you use the correct paths to the files listed in that file.

  34. TheDemographic on August 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm said:

    You are the greatest. Clean install of XPx64, installed SP2, reboot, installed 63 updates…and reboot loop (session manager initialization). About to do it all over again and decided to push R (for repair). Did your uninstall. Booted right up…first time. THANK YOU.

  35. TheDemographic: Excellent! thanks for letting me know it also works for 64bit versions!

  36. Slobodan on September 2, 2009 at 11:34 am said:

    Thank You!!!!
    Save me a lot of time and nerves with this tip. I have to bookmark your web page!

  37. Hi Pascal and to anyone that can help me ;)
    I have done the steps above, along with much more things from other blogs/forums and nothing.

    This issue began after i install SP3.If i do a repair install of windows everything is fine and can update all the way to sp3 then my pc jus reboots over and over giving the error of Session Manager Initialization fails with status 0xc000026c”.

  38. Mitch: There a number of things that can cause the looping boot, but are you sure that you ran this procedure correctly? did you get any error messages?

    Also, as Bodo mentionned, you may want to run this procedure on all the lastest patches that were applied to your computer recently, one by one to try and figure out if one of them is the culprit…

  39. ednolan on October 13, 2009 at 8:50 pm said:

    You are the best person in the world
    if i could give you a hug i would
    but this is the internet so i cannot
    so instead i will offer you a humble high-five:
    thank you………..

  40. hahahah! thanks for the High Five! :-)

  41. Sake Hoogsteen on October 17, 2009 at 2:58 am said:

    Thank you so much,

    This is one of the best howto’s.
    My XP is running again and so important, nothing missing.

    Again, thanks.

  42. Shashank on January 16, 2010 at 6:52 am said:

    I can’t find this directory in my WINDOWS folder named $NTUninstallB925902$/spuninst ,instead I have these KB95460$,KB898461$,KB960715 & KB952954.

  43. Mercyrain on April 21, 2010 at 10:19 pm said:

    thank you so much… was worried i was going to have to reinstall it all from scratch but this worked like a charm… only killed an hour researching this instead of killing a few nights, thank you so much :)

  44. Richard on August 18, 2010 at 1:47 am said:

    WOW! worked wonderfully. A Serious Thank You for the many hours you just saved me!

  45. do I get to my recovery cd when it doesn’t load anything I can’t get passed the black booting page get to

  46. Cooper on October 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm said:

    I did not have KB925902 on my system.

    Uninstalled KB938464-v2$, KB958690$, KB959772_WM11$, KB960225$ and everything booted normally.

  47. Pascal…….i’m in love with U !! Lets get married ;-)
    Havent tried to run any apps yet, but your trick gave me back a clean boot and my usual desktop.
    Thanks a lot for sharing…..
    regards pers

  48. Alan Berman on December 5, 2010 at 7:58 pm said:

    Thank you, Pascal–your fix worked perfectly and I’m back in business. That is one of the remarkably few fixes that worked just right exactly as described. I am grateful for your posting.

  49. I just used a recovery image to repair a customers machine. I used MSDART to uninstall the last updates and the machine then booted correctly. However, After reinstalling the updates from windowsupdate the error was back. All updtaes installed correctly on the recovery image.

    My question is are you guys able to install the updates without fault after removing them ? because this was not the case for me. I have to return the customers machine in a condition where all windows updates are successfull.


  50. So could you install the updates without the bsod after this removal procedure ?

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