I have this on my system and up till recently it was updating, and as far as I recall the prog. has been validated by MS. I have app 7 updates that won't install. I read somewhere recently, that this may have been caused by an over zealous registry cleaner.
I am running XP pro, and do not have the disc for Office, as program was pre installed.
You are certainly correct in that you could have a registry issue. I've had to delete a couple of registry entries that were causing Microsoft Update to fail but this sounds more like you just can't update Office when you already have the updates downloaded.
The more info you can give (errors, what you downloaded, etc…) the better. Until then, give this a read (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/304498).
I'd look at removing the update folder and also looking at manually downloading the updates. Those tend to work better than automatic update.
If I come across more or if you can provide more info I'll see what I can find. That was just the first (and actually pretty good) KB article I found. Give that stuff a try and let me know how it goes.
I have experienced this problem several times (running Vista Home Premium SP2) and the only workaround that has resolved the issue for me has been to  manually download the updates (based on KB#) from Microsoft and  install the update (use run as Administrator option) separately from the 'Windows Update' process.
The common factor that I've noticed in the updates that fail (always for Office 2003), is that when I install from the manual download I am presented with the option to 'review/accept' the Microsoft Software License Terms and must  accept the terms to complete the installation.
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