I got this error when I was trying to get a old system using MOSS 2007 to update. I restarted the 'Office SharePoint Server Search' service but it just froze on stopping mode and won't do anything.
I searched online and most of the posts asked to restart the server, which I was not ready to do as it was a production environment.
I got this nice work around and it worked for me:
The service is basically 'OSearch' so what I did was
* Opened a command prompt on the server and type: tasklist /svc
* From the list, check which one you need to close. I checked it was mssearch.exe for 'OSearch' . (remember there will be two mssearch.exe one for moss and wss I guess.)
* Note down its process id
* Run another command to kill that process from command line: taskkill /PID ABCD /F
(where ABCD is your port number)
Once this is done, run services.msc from run prompt and start your search service, it will not be in a hanged state anymore!