In this case, CU means cumulative update for Windows 10. Servicing stack updates, also known as SSUs, pave the way for successful CU installs. As the MS Servicing stack updates web page explains, these updates “provide fixes to the servicing stack, the component that installs Windows updates.” In essence, that means SSU updates make sure that any potential gotchas that might prevent the CU from installing correctly are addressed before the gotchas can bite. This quote explains what’s up. “If you don’t install the latest servicing stack update, there’s a risk that your device can’t be updated with the latest Microsoft security fixes.” Hence also the title: Win10 Servicing Stack updates support CUs. Got that?
How Is It That Win10 Servicing Stack Updates Support CUs?
SSUs are supposed to be released at the same time that monthly quality updates and CUs are released. Sometimes, an SSU may go out on its own to address issues that affect systems installing a monthly update of some kind. Starting November 2018, new SSUs are classifed as Security updates with a “Criticial” severity rating. You can look at SSUs as a kind of just-in-time update that prepares systems to accept and work with other updates. It’s all good, right?
There’s just one little gotcha when it comes to SSUs. They don’t appear in the Windows 10 Update History. For the record, the most recent SSU (dated 12/4/2018) is KB4470788. Note this snippet from my Lenovo T520 laptop, onto which I installed the latest updates yesterday.
Note the absence of an SSU entry in the preceding list. Nothing is numbered 4470788. What’s up with that?
[Click image for full-sized view.]
If There’s No SSU Visible, Is It Really There?
Oh, it’s there all right. MS chooses not to show it in its Update History list for some odd reason or another. If you use the DISM /Online /Get-Packages command, it shows up near the end of that listing, like this:
The red arrow flags the KB4470788 entry, and shows it appears as a Security Update as claimed earlier. Perforce it’s installed before the CU (RollupFix item at end of list).
[Click image for full-sized-view.]
I learned by trial and error on Wednesday/Thursday that sometimes the SSU may NOT precede a CU. If that should happen, this may manifest in WU failing to offer the CU. I noticed that four of the five machines I have running 17763.167 got the offer, but the fifth did not. On a whim, I downloaded and installed the SSU from the Microsoft Update Catalog. Immediately thereafter, WU offered the missing CU (KB4469342). I’m not sure why this happened, but I was glad to find a way to address the situation. Should you ever find yourself in the same boat, this technique might also work for you. Find the Servicing Satck Update KB article numbers in Microsoft Security Advisory ADV990001 Latest Servicing Stack Updates. Then you can use that info to grab what you need from the Update Catalog.
What can one say about a Windows 10 Cumulative Update that goes through four iterations? Quite a lot, as it turns out. In fact, KB4469342 has led to three or more point release values for Build 17763. A quick Google Search on KB4469342 at Microsoft.com produces info for .165, .167 and .168 point releases in the Insider Preview Release Preview program. Woody Leonhard vents some interesting spleen on this CU at ComputerWorld “Win10 Version 1809 gets another jolt, fourth KB 4469342 now runs build 17763.18.” There’s been a lot of recent action on this front, which is why I assert that Cumulative Update KB4469342 weaves tortuous Win10 track.
One Tale On How Cumulative Update KB4469342 Weaves Tortuous Win10 Track
Take my Surface Pro 3 as an example. I’ve been tracking the Release Preview stuff on that PC since the .165 version of KB4469342 appeared on November 16. I’ve read about various graphics driver and other issues for this update in its various forms. I didn’t get bitten until the .168 release appeared December 3.
When I checked WU no new KB4469342 update appeared. It wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to visit the Microsoft Catalog and grab the update for manual installation. But I couldn’t find it until some kind soul named Dave44 offered download links to the x64 and x86 .cab files at TenForums. I had checked various UUP-based download sites. Alas I couldn’t grab those files, despite numerous other reports of success from posters to the afore-linked thread.
The Tortured Track Continues
Once I used DISM to add this package to my online Win10 image things got interesting. After the package was integrated, DISM asked to reboot my PC. Prior to reboot, I saw the spinning balls and the typical “Processing updates” verbiage that counted through to completion. Following the reboot, the OS hung. It presented me with a set of “Choose your default keyboard” selections. When I did, the machine would restart and eventually return to the same screen. This is a so-called “Windows 10 boot loop.” After exhausting recovery options to the resident recovery partition without success, I booted to a Macrium Rescue Media UFD, and performed boot repairs. After the next reboot, Windows 10 went through its OS rollback (“reverting to previous OS version”) maneuvers and I was back running the .167 point release.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
This morning, WU finally offered me KB4469342 directly for the first time. After a quick image backup and crossing my fingers, I fired it off. To my surprise and delight, it completed successfully all the way through. But when I ran DISM /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup on the .168 image it failed partway through. The error message read: “The operation cannot be performed because another transaction is depending on the fact that this property will not change.”
That’s a new one on me, so I looked it up in Microsoft Docs. It occurs when two transactions compete for the same resource, so neither can grab it and complete. I’ve noticed that sometimes running startcomponentcleanup causes two progress bars to appear, one that stops short of 100% and a new one that kicks off and usually runs to completion. Could it be that a second process gets spawned when the first one hangs and that this time they conflicted with one another? Hard to think of another more likely cause here. Very interesting.
Notice the two lines reported for progress. My best guess is that each represents a separate process. Each apparently requests a resource that the other needs to cause the error.
[Click image for full-sized view.]
I’m wondering now if this version of KB4469342 is the one that will go official next week on Patch Tuesday (December 11). There’s still time for another version to make its way into the Release Preview channel before then, though. Can’t ever remember seeing the same KB go through four iterations before. Anybody going for five?
Starting in November, 2018, Intel began supplying Modern Windows Drivers for its products. You can read about this switchover on the Intel site. Find the Support post entitled “Introduction of Modern Windows Drivers for Intel Products.” If you download a new version of the Intel Driver & Support Assistant (IDSA), it will grab those drivers for you should they be available. The latest version runs as a web-based app, and does a pretty good job. But the change comes with a caveat, where Intel Windows 10 modern drivers are concerned. It’s only available for newer Intel graphics chipsets, including Skylake, Apollo Lake, Coffee Lake, Gemini Lake and Kaby Lake (510 or higher and 605 or higher, by chipset model number).
Interesting implications emerge from a new Windows driver architecture, Windows Modern Drivers(MWD).
The Read More link in the graphic is the Intro article linked in the preceding paragraph.
Switching to Intel Windows 10 Modern Drivers
The switchover is easy, if your hardware is new enough to support the new driver family. If so, you’ll also want to visit the Windows Store. Search for and install the Intel Graphics Control Panel, for an interactive set of driver controls tightly integrated into Windows 10. For myself though, all of the PCs I own run Intel graphics chipsets of Haswell or Ivy Bridge vintage. That means neither the new drivers nor the Store app work for me. In fact, although I can download and install that Store app, I get an error message when I try to launch it:
Alas, without a MWD driver, the Store app won’t run.
Implications of Switching to Intel Windows Modern Drivers
So far, reaction to the drivers has been mostly positive, if somewhat mixed. The only way to load these drivers is to run an .exe file. Attempts to extract typical driver file components (.inf files, .dlls, and so forth) apparently don’t produce anything usable. Why is this a potential concern? Because such individual files are REQUIRED by DISM to integrate drivers into offline image files. This is explained in the MS Docs article “Add or Remove Drivers to an offline Windows Image.” So far, nobody’s figured out how to do this using MWD drivers in general, and Intel graphics drivers in particular. This could be a gotcha for some admins who maintain Windows image libraries for deployment. Hopefully, some kind of resolution will soon be forthcoming.
OK, then. Another interesting tidbit about recent Windows 10 woes for the 1809 release has emerged. As ZDNet reports, Apple has fixed a compatibility problem with iCloud. iCloud is Apple’s cloud-based storage solution. It lets iDevice and iCloud users on PCs access, exchange and synchronize files. That story is entitled “Microsoft lifts Windows 10 1809 block after Apple fixes iCloud for Windows.” It explains that iCloud for Windows version 7.7.027 “caused problems syncing Share Albums after users updated to Windows 10 1809.” That’s why Microsoft blocked the 1809 update offer for Windows users running iCloud until the fix came in. They also prevented 1809 users from installing iCloud likewise. That’s why I say that an iCloud issue hampers 1809 user proffer (in such cases, at least).
Overcoming iCloud Issue Hampers 1809 User Proffer
Yesterday, Apple released iCloud for Windows 7.8.1. It addresses the 1809 compatibility issue. To take advantage of its capabilities, MS and Apple recommend that users first update iCloud. Only then should they upgrade their PCs to 1809. Here are the details on the recommended approach. They come from the November 27 entry on Microsoft’s Windows 10 update history page.
This is the info about iCloud that appeared on 11/17. This page is a handy source of useful info about release status and issues. Bookmark it!
Other Interesting 1809 Issues
While you’re visiting that update history page, it’s informative to check out other recent entries, too. The block dated 11/21/18 describes an Intel display driver issue. It attributes potential problems when “Intel inadvertently released versions of its display driver (versions 126.96.36.19944, 188.8.131.5245) to OEMs that accidentally turned on unsupported features in Windows.” Ouch! The upshot could affect audio playback through a monitor or TV connected using HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C. A workaround is also documented.
Older items include F5 VPN client issues, drive mappings that fail to reconnect, Trend Micro OfficeScan and Worry-Free Business software, older AMD GPUs, and more. Definitely worth reading over, especially for those facing any or all of such issues.
Thanks to MSPowerUser.com I stumbled upon a very interesting UK survey this morning. Its title tells much of the story: “Survey finds Laptops, Tablets steady while Desktop PC ownership plunges.” There’s an even better picture of what’s reported. I reproduce it from page 6 of the stunning interactive report around which the story is based. Basically it shows that in the period from 2008 to 2018, tablets and laptops increasingly represent the computing platform of choice for end-users. As the same time use of (desktop) PCs for computing has declined by more than half. If I read the chart correctly, only 30% of users now turn to PCs for computing. But just over 60% use laptops for that purpose, and just under 60% of users turn to tablets likewise. That’s why I say Tablets and Laptops Supplant Desktop PCs.
Note that tablets and laptops are up, while desktops are down, reflecting a sea change in computing device use patterns and preferences.
Tablets and Laptops Supplant Desktop PCs for Good Reasons
Ofcom is the UK government’s regulatory agency for communications services, including broadband, home and mobile phone services, TV and radio, postal services, and even wireless devices such as walkie talkies, wireless auto keyfobs and even wireless doorbells (often, with surveillance cameras embedded). As far as I can tell, it serves the same role in the UK that the FCC does in the USA, plus a lot more. The organization’s role includes an educational mandate for users, and to handle and respond to customer complaints. Thus, their report is very much media and communications focused, it doesn’t really delve much into computing practices and behaviors, except to observe and quantify Internet and smart phone use. That said, I think I understand what’s driving a long-term shift from desktop PCs to tablet and laptop alternatives:
- Price: laptops and tablets are often cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, than desktop PCs. With many families desiring device-per-member usage this makes more sense for many of them.
- Mobility: For most desktop PCs, the user has to go to the machine and work in front of it. More mobile devices go to (or with) their users and fit better into typical multi-device modern media consumption habits. (My 14-year-old son, for example, seldom watches TV without also interacting with his iPhone.)
- Apps not Applications: Most users want the same capability on their computing devices that they get from their smartphones. Mobile computing devices do a better job of supporting that kind of experience. Although its popular, fewer users want Office on their smartphone than want their iPhone or Android apps on their computers.
The whole Ofcom report is well worth reading. Besides the amazing interactive charts they’ve put together, the narrative that accompanies the charts is also worth reading (PDF format). Be sure to check it out!
I am NOT a Dinosaur!
I have a cheerful confession to share. Indeed, the foregoing survey shows clearly declining use of desktops. We own 5 laptops (2 of which are hybrid tablets), 2 full-time tablets (both iPads), 4 smartphones, and 3 desktops here at Chez Tittel. When I have work to do, though, I will always turn to my production PC by choice. That’s because it has two good (and big) monitors. Let me explain.
A lot of what I do requires reading and checking stuff in one or more “input windows” while writing something related in at least one “output window.” That’s still not something I can do well on the road on a laptop just yet (though it’s fun to try). My needs are pretty special, though, and I do consider myself primarily a writer/researcher. Thus my desktop PC is my primary work instrument. When I’m working that’s what I use. As I think of how my family uses PCs, and how I use them when I’m not working, I’m inclined to agree wholesale with the findings of the Ofcom survey myself. I just wanted to observe that special circumstances, like mine, explain why the usage rate is still at 30% for 2018, and likely to stay that way for some time to come.
I found a fascinating explanation for the withdrawal and re-release of Windows 10 1809 today at Windows Central. It’s entitled “How a major bug in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update slipped past Microsoft.” Essentially, it explains that MS was well-acquainted with a bug that caused apparent (but not real) data loss after an OS upgrade. This occurs when Windows 10 creates a temporary account into which users boot up when the upgrade completes. Of course, they can’t access their Documents, Downloads, and more. That’s because the (temporary) account has its own and different library folders. Unfortunately, users reported the 1809 bug the same way. But this time it involved genuine, sometimes traumatic data loss. According to WinCentral, it took MS some time to understand this. Only then did they withdraw the October 2 build. That’s why I aver a false bug ID causes 1809 re-release.
The original Winver information for the first, much-maligned and occasionally buggy 1809 release from October 2. Luckily, none of my 4 PCs running this version fell prey to that bug.
Correcting False Bug ID Causes 1809 Re-Release
Here’s how WinCentral explains Microsoft’s initial take on the bug:
. . . Microsoft at some point added a popup in the temporary account that explains to the user that they have been booted into a different profile and provides support for how to get out of that state. This is why Microsoft seemingly dismissed the reports from Insiders that actually had their files deleted after installing the October Update. Engineers assumed those reports were related to the temporary account issue, which had already been addressed.
A long time ago, I took my first management job (1984, if you must know). Early on, my manager wrote this on his whiteboard: ASSUME = ASS+U+ME. His voice-over stated “When you assume things, you make an ass out of you and me.” Indeed, this homily remains as true now as it was back then, and seems to have bitten Microsoft soundly on the hindquarters this time around. MS is, however, trying to learn from this mistake, as you can see in the many mea culpas implicit in this recent Windows Insider Program blog post from Corporate VP Michael Fortin: “Windows 10 Quality approach for a complex ecosystem.”
All I can wonder is: “Can MS put itself back into good repute with Windows users?” Still way too early to tell. Saying the right things is easy. Doing them can be a completely different story. We’ll see, I guess!
Yesterday, while poking around on my Lenovo T520 I found something unexpected. A Windows.old folder was still hanging around. This, despite having upgraded more than 10 days ago to 1809, and also having cleaned up the previous OS install manually. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “wonder what it is this time?” When my usual techniques for stomping out persistent Windows.old failed, I turned to Google. I quickly learned that a specific command-line sequence kills resistant Windows.old files and folders.
This laconic answer to the lengthy MS.answers post fixed my problem, too.
I translated the network path shown into a purely local path so I could run the command right on the affected PC itself.
Which Command-line Sequence Kills Resistant Windows.old Files and Folders?
That command is:
rd /s /q %systemdrive%\Windows.old
Here rd stands for remove directory (also known as the rmdir command). /s stands for recurse, which instructs it to remove all dependent folders. /q stands for quiet, which means it ignores any error or other messages that Windows hands out during the deletion process. This turns out to be the key to extirpating the resistant folder structure.
When you run this command on your target PC, you will have to use the drive letter for its affected system drive. This may or may not be the usual C:. That’s because when you boot to an alternate OS image, drive assignments don’t often remain the same. I used Kyhi’s excellent Windows 10 Recovery Tools — Bootable Rescue Disk, which does preserve existing drive mappings. But if you use the built-in Windows Recovery environment, your old C: drive could show up as something else. Use diskpart to check, please!
Why This Folder Hierarchy Resists Deletion
The affected folder hierarchy explains why this item resists deletion. It looks like the following string, laid out in descending fashion. (It is, of course, all on one line in Windows. But I can’t reproduce that within a WordPress web page without unpredictable line breaks. Thus, I break it across 4 lines here.)
Users\<account-name>\AppData Local\Packages\ Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy\ Localstate..
Note the two periods at the end of the final folder in the sequence. Note also that when I tried to examine this folder, Windows reports that the file can’t be found or doesn’t exist. Thus, what we’re dealing with here is a damaged file and folder structure. There’s actually no file at the bottom of this folder list — or at least, no file that I can see using File Explorer or normal command line inspection techniques. That also explains why my usual deletion methods don’t work. The preceding command sequence zaps whatever it finds, recursively (/s) and without stopping for error messages (/q) along the way. That does the trick!
[Note: I found this command string thanks to a post at Answers.Microsoft.com, which led me to this solution after my usual clean-up techniques failed. They work fine on intact file/folder structures, but this command is necessary to kill damaged or incomplete ones.]
Here’s an interesting Windows 10 gotcha to ponder. By default, on screens with True HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) or better, Windows 10 defaults to 125% for its Scale and Layout in Settings → Display. At the same time, this very default prevents Event Viewer from offering event log choices in its “Create Custom …” dialog box. How do I know that default screen res kills event viewer log filtering? Simple. If you try to access the pull-down list for Event logs in the aforementioned dialog box, it works fine if the Scale and Layout setting is at 100%. Try it at the default 125% value on higher-res displays, and the pull down list fails to appear. You can try it yourself, if you like. This is what it looks like:
If you click the “By log” radio button, and its pulldown list shows nada, reset your Scale and Layout value to 100%. Then, it will work!
Fixing Defaults Screen Res Kills Event Viewer Log Filtering
I tried this issue on all of my PCs (every one of which has a True HD class monitor or better) and it affects every single one of them. That includes 1809 production releases (Build 17763), and the current Insider Preview (Build 18282). Over at TenForums, other users report that 1803 (Build 177134) is likewise affected. The fix is easy, if cumbersome: one need only reset the Scale and Layout value to 100% long enough to define the desired log filter, after which it can be reset to the default (or some other) value. If you make that Display settings change, here’s what you’ll see when you click the pulldown arrow for that item:
At 100% Scale and Layout, the pulldown is easily made visible.
Bizarre! It just goes to show you that Windows 10 is big, complex and convoluted enough that the odd eccentricity here or there is inevitable. I have no clue why or how this happens. That said, the gotcha is easily reproduced. It’s also worked around quite easily, too. This is a case of “fix it when you must; otherwise ignore.”
[Note: this gotcha is nicely documented at TenForums in a thread entitled “Event viewer on laptop–unable to create a custom view.” That thread’s original poster, user tfwul, also came up with the workaround I describe here. And so it goes, here in Windows-World!]
After installing Insider Preview 18227.1006 on my two test PCs earlier this week, I immediately encountered an interesting problem. Those two PCs are both Dells. One is a 2013 vintage Venue Pro 11 7130 (hybrid tablet PC, i5 mobile CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB M.2 SATA SSD). The other is a 2014 XPS 2720 All-in-One (27″ touchscreen, Haswell i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 mSATA SSD). I usually remote into those PCs to work on them from my primary desktop. Imagine my shock and consternation when attempting to establish an RDP session to either one post-upgrade only to see . . . nothing. Or a black screen if you prefer something more descriptive, sometimes with the cursor showing, sometimes not. Troubleshooting that issue led me to some potentially useful RDP Win10 black screen fixes.
Try as I might, with all available tricks and sleights of hand, I still can’t see the remote desktop on the XPS 2720.
Initial Troubleshooting Before Finding RDP Win10 Black Screen Fixes
Alas, I’ve been down this road before, on earlier Insider Preview Win10 builds. So I checked all the more typical RDP-related settings before seeking other fixes out. The network status for both machines remained Private, as it should. Sharing options were correct, too: Discovery turned on, file and printer sharing turned on, password protected sharing off, public folder sharing turned on, and low-strength encryption likewise selected. I was also able to access shared folders in either direction across the network (from the production PC to the Insider Preview unit, and vice-versa). All things as they should be. So why the black screen?
Itemizing Potential RDP Win10 Black Screen Fixes
On the Venue Pro 11, I was able to verify the keyboard was working in the remote session. How? By entering CTRL-SHIFT-ESC I could see that Task Manager had launched on that machine when I returned to local control over the desktop. Knowing that the focus on the remote PC was inside that tool, I used the keyboard command Alt-F-N to open the “Run new task” window. Then, by running Explorer.exe I got my desktop back. It’s now working for remote access as it should be.
The XPS 27270 remains stubbornly resistant, though. My Win10.Guru business partner and friend Kari mentioned that the CTRL-ALT-END key sequence will often restore the desktop to visibility, or provide a menu entry to get to Task Manager. No dice. Not even CTRL-SHIFT-ESC works on that connection to open up Task Manager more directly. Even the graphics card reset sequence (SHIFT-CTRL-WinKey-B) doesn’t help. I even tried to launch an RDP session from a different PC. It takes me through the login sequence, shows me the certificate warning, and then I see the same black screen. No cursor, no apparent keyboard input working. Looks like this one’s well and truly stuck!
So I’ve filed a problem report with Microsoft via the Feedback Hub for that PC. Hopefully, a fix will be forthcoming soon. Plus, I’ll keep trying to see if I can figure out some way to get the RDP link to the XPS 2720 to work by hook or by crook.
[NOTE: Added 11/28 late afternoon]
I don’t know what MS did, but RDP has resumed working normally on both Dell test machines. I kept beavering away at the XPS 2720 to get RDP working on my own, but went through Builds 18277 and 18282 with no success. Today, after installing Build 18290, RDP has returned to normal, dependable operation. Such is life for those who test the Insider Previews. But because I use RDP to work on my test machines, I’m very, very glad that this glitch has been fixed. I did learn a lot about working with RDP connections though, so it was a positive experience overall.
OK, then. MS fired off a series of items on November 13. This includes a cumulative update that takes existing 1809 installs to Build 17763.134, plus access to 1809 in upgrade or ISO form on the Download Windows 10 page. Thus, 40 days after the first release was withdrawn on October 5, 1809 makes its official reappearance. That’s why I declaim: Win10 1809 is re-released!
Once again the Win10 Download Page is serving up 1809!
[Click image for full-sized view.]
How Win10 1809 Is Re-released Affects Those Already Running 1809
If you, like me, jumped on 1809 and got it installed before that release was withdrawn, no worries. You need simply install KB4567708, which is available through Windows Update (WU) or via download from the Microsoft Catalog (32-bit/x86 and 64-bit/x64 versions). On all machines I’d upgraded in October, they went from Build 17763.55 to 17763.134 without difficulty or undue delay.
If you, also like me, decided to join the Insider Preview for apps, updates and hotfixes only, you can return to the main branch as I did yesterday. This means updating first to KB4464455, which takes you to Build 17763.107. Then, you must visit the Insider Preview page under Settings → Update & Security, and exit the Insider Program there. You will have to restart your PC once (or twice, as in my case, for whatever odd reason). Then, you’re back in the 1809 mainstream. After you apply KB4567708, your PC will be at Build 17763.134, all caught up. This took some time (for all the reboots, mostly) but worked without issue, too.
How Win10 1809 Is Re-released Affects Those Running 1803
You have two paths to get to Build 17763.134. First, you can wait for WU to offer you the upgrade. This offer seems to be pretty readily forthcoming for the membership at TenForums, where over 50 people reported receiving the upgrade via WU yesterday. Or, you can visit the afore-linked Windows 10 Download Page and use the Update Assistant or build yourself an installation UFD using the Media Creation Tool.
Let the games begin! 1809 is back.
Here’s a shout-out to my business partner’s take on the re-release over at Win10.Guru. It’s entitled “Windows 10 October Update version 1809 finally released” and it shares a more nuanced and jaundiced view of what the Windows and Insider teams are up to at Microsoft.