I have applied XP Service Pack 3 on many of my hosts but there is this particular machine, that refused to install Service Pack 3. After doing massive amount of copying of DLLs and what not, it would give a particularly terse Access denied messagebox and go on to revert changes it did earlier.
The relevant section of %SystemRoot%\svcpack.log would look like this

495.218: DoRegistryUpdates:UpdSpInstallFromInfSection Failed for ProductInstall.GlobalRegistryChanges.Install error: 0x5
495.218: INF_REGISTRY Failed
495.218: DoInstallation:DoRegistryUpdates failed
497.656: Unregistration of sprecovr successful
497.937: Access is denied.
499.937: Message displayed to the user: Access is denied.
499.937: User Input: OK
499.937: Service Pack 3 installation did not complete.

Select 'OK' to undo the changes that have been made.
512.328: Message displayed to the user: Service Pack 3 installation did not complete.

Select 'OK' to undo the changes that have been made.
512.328: User Input: OK
512.328: Starting process:  D:\WINDOWS\$NtServicePackUninstall$\spuninst\spuninst.exe /~ -u -z
721.718: Software Update Rollback has completed with return code 0xbc2.  This rollback requires a reboot.
721.718: Service Pack 3 installation did not complete.

Suspecting malware, it was time to do a thorough check of system integrity. After installing all updates from Windows Update, it was time to deep scan all drives and registry for possible infection(s). After two different products reported nothing other than third party cookies, it was pretty clear that there was none.

When Service Pack 3 installer was launched again and it was a different set of error messages this time.

SP3 Error: Requested lookup key not found in any activation contextService Pack 3 installation did not complete.

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