After installing Office 365 as per the post below the Windows 2012 R2 Remote Desktop VM the system indicated that it had to restart to activate office 365 and so this is what I did.
The system then decided it had to perform updates during the restart which was fine and it continued to get to 30% where it stayed for 24hrs. Assuming that there was no choice the machine was restarted again and this time the whole system got to configuring updates at 6% and stayed there for 3 days.
Every time the server was reset this was the outcome.
Having looked through a few suggestions I performed the following:
1. Amended the 'Automatic Start action' on virtual machine settings so that secure boot was disabled
2. Started up the troubleshooting option from the startup repair and chose the command prompt whereupon I performed the following:
3. Renamed the softwaredistribution folder to softwaredistribution.old on the assumption that a new folder will be created when the windowsupdate service next tries a download.
4. Searched for all pending.xml.* files in Windows\WinSXS and deleted them
5. Ran 'dism /image:C:\ /cleanup-image /revertpendingactions' to clear any awaiting updates.
6. Created a blank pending.xml file in WinSXS (not sure if this made a difference but it was a piece of advice seen here: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/7364c2ff-1d52-4767-bfec-d97d42921d5c/interrupted-vm-stuck?forum=winserverhyperv) which they did using 'echo > pending.xml' whilst in Windows\WinSXS\ and then rebooted.
The VM undid all of the updates and started up and the Office 365 on Remote Desktop Virtual Machine asked for an email address with which to activate - only took 6 days then!!!