I bumped today into the following message in a Windows 7 computer: “Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running”. After some web searching I found a simple way to fix this. According to Paul Woods the culprit is a corruption in the following file …
if you rename or delete that file (as your solution ultimately does) then reboot the pc, auto updates will resume.
This file keeps track of the update history and status and if the status cannot be determined then updates won’t run. If the file does not exist (deleted or renamed) it is recreated and it is assumed that updates have never been run.
Paul was in turn inspired by Michael’s Notes and posted his findings in the comments section.
Update Sept. 25, 2012: See comments below for extra details.