Automatic updates come up fine but when going to Start>Microsoft Updates or Tools>Windows Updates in IE it sucessfully gets to the Microsoft updates page with the Express or Custom option only. Once you press either of those buttons it quickly loads a page saying;
"Windows Update has encountered an error and cannot display the requested page."
followed by it's FAQS, newsgroup and whatnot links.
I tried different users, checked the system clock/date, cleared temp internet files, cookies, added the MS update sites to the trusted sites and made sure they weren't in the blocked sites list etc. I've run into this before but it turned out to be as simple as the date and time being off. this time I just can't figure it out. I've been told I can upgrade the system to XP, but it's killing me not knowing how to get updates to work again as they should. Any help would obviously be greatly appreciated.

Several things.

1) Be sure to have ActiveX enabled when doing visiting the site.

2) possibly turn off any AVs or firewalls when updating.

I meant to check the activex settings, I'll give that a try. The only AV is VirusScan which all systems also have in the company and do not exhibit the same issue.
Thank you for the suggestions.

I enabled all activex options but still the same error.

Any errors being logged in eventvwr?

I have seen this before with an XP Pro machine. It required some dlls to be re-registered (I'll have to trawl a bit to remind myself which ones)

before running updates via the system tray icon (the only way it worked) there is an error reporting;

Unable to Connect: Windows is unable to connect to the automatic updates service and therefore cannot download and install updates according to the set schedule. Windows will continue to try to establish a connection.