An open letter to Microsoft:
Dear Microsoft –
Please either allow us to disable Windows 10 updates, or stop pushing out updates that break millions of computers worldwide every few weeks.
Almost a billion Windows 10 users
The problems with Windows 10 updates are getting worse, not better. The last major feature update (1903) had major issues at release, and more seem to be turning up with each new set of “quality” updates. Those quotes around the word ‘quality’ are very intentional, by the way.
I’ve just spent most of a day troubleshooting and fixing a heinous set of problems related to printing, affecting most of the computers at a retail client. Printing is a critical function for this client, as it is for most businesses.
What follows is the sequence of events leading up to the printing problem, and what finally fixed it.
All of the computers are running 64-bit Windows Professional release 1903 (build 18362.356).
SUMMARY: Update 4522016, which apparently caused these printing problems on some computers, was never installed on any of the affected PCs at this business. Update 4524147 caused the printing problems it was supposed to fix. Uninstalling update 4524147 fixed the printing problems on three otherwise up-to-date Windows 10 PCs.
- 2019Oct03: Update 4524147 was installed automatically on all affected PCs. This happened overnight, which is normal for these PCs.
- 2019Oct04: The client reported printing problems on several PCs.
- 2019Oct04: The usual troubleshooting for printing issues was ineffective. Research eventually showed that a recent Windows update (4522016) was causing printing problems for many users. But that update was never installed on any of the affected PCs.
- 2019Oct04: Since printing was working fine before 4524147 was installed, I uninstalled that update, and printing started working again. Repeating this on all affected computers resolved all the printing problems.
- 2019Oct05: On trying to log into one of the recently-fixed PCs, Windows 10 told me that the Start menu was broken. Research showed that update 4524147 was causing this problem (the second time an update broke the Start menu in recent weeks). I checked, and sure enough, 4524147 had been reinstalled automatically overnight. Uninstalling it fixed the Start menu.
- 2019Oct05: To delay recurrence of the printing problem, I used the Advanced settings on the Windows Update screen to delay updates as long as possible. On most of the PCs, I was able to delay updates for between 30 and 365 days. On one PC, these settings were inexplicably missing. I eventually had to use the Local Group Policy Editor to make the necessary changes.
- 2019Oct04: I reported this bizarre situation to Microsoft via its Windows 10 Feedback hub. It’s difficult to know whether anyone at Microsoft will actually see this, or take it seriously. I have doubts, which means that this problem seems likely to reappear at some point.
This is in fact the nightmare scenario envisioned by myself and others when it became clear that Windows 10 updates would not be optional. While Microsoft has — grudgingly — made it possible to delay updates, it’s still not possible to avoid them completely, and if you’re one of the unlucky Windows 10 Home users, even that’s not an option.
Questions for Microsoft
Why did an update intended to fix printing problems actually cause those exact problems?
Why are some of the advanced Windows Update settings missing from one of several identically-configured Windows 10 PCs running the same build?
Why are you inflicting this garbage on us? Do you hate us?
WHY DON’T YOU LET US TURN OFF UPDATES? This is the simplest solution, and while I understand that you want Windows 10 installs to be secure (and that means installing fixes for security vulnerabilities), until you can produce updates that don’t cause massive problems, we don’t want them.
- Forbes: Microsoft Issues Windows 10 Update Warning
- Windows Latest: Windows 10 KB4524147 breaks Start menu with critical error
Update 2019Oct10: Apparently update 4517389, released on October 8 along with the rest of October’s updates, addresses this problem.