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February Win10 1903 and 1909 cumulative update causing desktops to disappear

Shortly after this month’s massive Patch Tuesday dump dropped, several people reported that when they rebooted after installing the patch, their desktops appeared to be wiped clean — icons went missing, wallpaper replaced, desktop data nowhere to be seen.

Last night, Lawrence Abrams on BleepingComputer came up with a comprehensive diagnosis:

Based on the reports by affected users, it appears that a bug in the KB4532693 update is loading up a temporary profile to be used during the update process and failing to restore the user’s profile when done. 

Which explains all of the symptoms I’ve seen [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Many people are in a tizzy — their desktop icons are gone, they can’t log onto their usual Admin account, and their files most definitely aren’t where they left them. Abrams has a bit of reassurance:

The good news is that the update is not wiping your data, but rather renaming the original user profile in the C:Users folder. If you are affected by this issue, you can look in C:Users and see if you have a renamed profile ending in .000 or .bak.

I’ve seen several reports that uninstalling the KB 4532693 patch solves the problem.

Günter Born picked up the baton overnight (U.S. time) and has come up with a tantalizing observation:

Currently I’m collecting information about the root cause. One user reported, that a bunch of 50 machines was affected, all using AVIRA antivirus, while the other machines without issues didn’t have AVIRA installed. But this is only a single voice. 

Of course, Microsoft hasn’t said anything. The official Win10 Release Information Status page hasn’t been updated since November. The Feedback Hub is useless, as usual (try searching for “KB 4532693”). The official Answers Forum doesn’t have a clue.

So we’re back to helping Microsoft crowdsource patching bug reports for its multibillion-dollar product.

Did your desktop disappear after installing this month’s patches? Are you running Avira or Avast? Please let us know on AskWoody.

I swear, if somebody tells me again how Windows patches are getting better, I’m gonna bust a blood vessel. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft releases emergency IE patches inside ‘optional, non-security’ cumulative updates

I’ve seen a lot of confusion about the security hole known as CVE-2019-1367 and what normal Windows customers should do about it. Part of the reason for the confusion is the way the fix was distributed – the patching files were released on Monday, Sept. 23, but only via manual download from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

On a Monday.

In the past few hours, Microsoft released a hodge-podge of patches that seem to tackle the problem. They’re “optional non-security” and “Monthly Rollup preview” patches, so you won’t get them unless you specifically go looking for them.

As a bit o’ lagniappe, if you use Windows Update to install the sky-is-falling IE patch, you’ll get a bunch of additional marginally-tested patches along for the ride.

Here are the most important Win10 patches that appear to contain the IE/CVE-2019-1367 fix:

  • Win10 1809 and Server 2019 KB 4516077 – build 17763.774.
  • Win10 1803 KB 4516045 – build 17134.1039.
  • Server 2016KB 4516061 – build 14393.3242.

I say “appear to contain” the fix because, as best I can tell, none of the documentation mentions CVE-2019-1367, the security hole that was fixed yesterday in an odd single-purpose cumulative update. These, too, are cumulative updates, but they’re specifically identified as “non-security updates.”

Which is disingenuous, at best. 

Those patches are only available if you click “Check for updates.” Microsoft would traditionally call them “optional, non-security” patches, but with the likely (if undocumented) presence of a separately identified out-of-band security patch, it’s hard to say what to call them. 

We don’t have a cumulative update for Win10 1903 just yet. We do, however, have a manually downloadable out-of-band patch for the IE problem in 1903, KB 4522016.

Over on the Windows 7/8.1 side of the fence, it appears as if the CVE-2019-1367 fix is part and parcel of the two Monthly Rollup Previews just released:

  • Win7 KB 4516048 – “Addresses an issue that may cause an error when opening or using the Toshiba Qosmio AV Center. You may also receive an error in the Event Log related to cryptnet.dll.”
  • Win8.1 KB 4516041 – Fixes the bug that prevented IE 11 from running on RT devices.

There’s no indication in the KB articles that either of these Previews fix the IE hole, but an independent check by AskWoody’s @EP shows that the Previews contain the latest IE file. That likely means the security hole has been plugged in the Previews.

At this point, I don’t see why the Windows blogosphere has tied itself in knots warning about the IE/CVE-2019-1367 security hole. Yes, Microsoft has said that it’s been exploited in the wild. No, we don’t have any more information. The folks who know aren’t talking. The most credible story I’ve seen involves a very targeted attack from the (reputedly) Korean group known as DarkHotel.

At any rate, for almost everybody, this appears to be yet another tempest in a teapot. My advice is to sit tight, don’t update anything, and stop using Internet Explorer.

Unless you’ve done something to make DarkHotel angry, of course.

Keep up with the latest on AskWoody.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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New Win10 1809 ‘Download and install now’ — for cumulative updates, too?

From my point of view, the new Win10 version 1903 — which is still baking in the beta Release Preview ring — has the potential to become the first “must have” version of Windows 10. It all hinges on one new feature, “Download and install now,” which brings back the ability to control updating almost as well as we could in Windows 7.

Or maybe not.

Taken at face value, “Download and install now” (screenshot) should give every Win10 1903 customer — Home or Pro — the ability to block updates until the customer decides they’re good and ready to be installed.

1903 enterprise evaluation download and install cu Woody Leonhard/IDG

Late last week, Win10 savant Leopeva posted screenshots on Reddit that, at the time, seemed too good to be true. He shows both Win10 Pro and Win10 Home updating paused, waiting for permission to install the same 2019-04 Cumulative Update shown in the screenshot.

I’ve since been able to confirm on a dozen different Home and Pro machines that “Download and install now” appears reliably shortly after 1903 setup, waiting for the same cumulative update.

That’s a revolutionary change. Until 1903, the only mechanisms we had for blocking forced updates in Win10 involved advanced updating options in Win10 Pro. There were no officially sanctioned methods at all for blocking updates in Win10 Cannon Fodder edition (otherwise known as Win10 Home). It’s been that way since the very first version of Win10 in July 2015.

At the same time, it’s a puzzling change.

About a month ago, in a surprise announcement, Microsoft corporate VP Mike Fortin said:

The new ‘Download and install now’ option provides users a separate control to initiate the installation of a feature update on eligible devices with no known key blocking compatibility issues. … This new ‘download and install’ option will also be available for … Windows 10, Versions 1803 and 1809, by late May.

He clarifies by saying:

Download and install now option provides users a separate control to initiate the installation of a feature update on eligible devices with no known key blocking compatibility issues. Users can still “Check for updates” to get monthly quality and security updates.

Applying the Microsoft Secret Decoder Ring (where “feature update” = version change and “quality update” = security and non-security cumulative updates), Fortin declared that people using Win10 1803, 1809 and 1903 will have the ability to block version changes, at least until a version reaches end of life. He didn’t say anything at all about cumulative updates.

Yet the only example we’ve seen — the one shown in the screenshot — is unabashedly a delay for a cumulative update, the 2019-04 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1903.

Does this mean we’ll see “Download and install now”-style blocking available for all cumulative updates? That’d be a real bonanza, especially for Win10 Home customers, who have little more than chewing gum and baling wire to protect them from bad patches.

Maybe all we saw was the vestige of a beta test — where the “Download and install now” mechanism was being tested with a throw-away patch. But maybe, just maybe, we saw a bit of the future of rock ‘n’ roll.

Thx, @Leopeva

We’re watching anxiously on the AskWoody Lounge.

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Win10 version 1809 gets its laggard second ‘April’ cumulative update, KB 4501835

While most of Win10-dom saw their second monthly patches a week ago, those of us who follow such things have waited with bated breath to see when the new cumulative update for Win10 version 1809 would arrive. “C Week” (the week containing the third Tuesday of the month) came and went, then “D Week.” Then we hit “E Week” — the undocumented week that contains the fifth Tuesday of the month, and nothing appeared there either.

Yesterday, we stumbled on a Knowledge Base article announcing the arrival of a new “optional non-security” cumulative update, KB 4051835. Two gotchas:

  • The patch itself didn’t appear until many hours after the KB article arrived. Even now, early Thursday morning, it’s only available via manual download — neither “Check for updates” nor WSUS summons the genie.
  • Nine of the 10 described fixes are for the ongoing Japanese Reiwa Era bug. I should probably say “bugs,” as in festering swarm.

Oddly, in the Microsoft Catalog, the latest cumulative update is listed as:

2019-05 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1809

… whereas in the past, these 1809 laggards have been identified with the previous month. I would’ve expected “2019-04 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1809.” A foolish inconsistency.

Perhaps we now have a “Pre A week”?

It remains to be seen if this patch fixes the Japanese Era bug. Microsoft’s been trying to swat it through dozens of patches over the past several months. Rumor has it that the problem still hasn’t been fixed.

In somewhat related news, Microsoft also shipped a cumulative update, KB 4497093, for Win10 version 1903 — the version that’s still officially in the “Insider” beta testing phase — including a new Servicing Stack Update, KB 4498524.

We’re anxiously awaiting “Week F” on the AskWoody Lounge.

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