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Fix Post-Update Win10 Black Boot Screen

Yesterday, June 18, MS released KB4503288 for Windows 10 1809 via Windows Update. It addresses a boatload of existing issues, as detailed in the KB4503288 release notes. As always, however, it also makes mention of potential issues that may affect some users once they’ve installed the update. At least one of those (depicted below) may require users or admins to fix post-update Win10 black boot screen. This means that, as MS puts it in the afore-linked release notes “a small number of devices may startup to a black screen during the first logon after installing updates.” Sometimes, the cursor may still appear and move as directed by the mouse (or whatever pointing device you use); sometimes not. This is a vexing problem for any who’ve experienced it. This post will present some coping and repair strategies. But first, here’s a snippet from the KB4503288 release notes with advice worth trying:

Fix Post-Update Win10 Black Boot Screen.advice

The “three-fingered salute” is always worth trying when serious display issues manifest, as with a black screen.
[Click image for full-sized view | Source: KB4503288 release notes]

Just in case the mitigation advice isn’t legible in the preceding screenshot, here’s that text verbatim:

To mitigate this issue, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, then select the Power button in the lower right corner of the screen and select Restart. Your device should now restart normally.

What to do if the mitigation advice doesn’t work?

Sometimes the recited instructions will do the trick, and restore Win10 to normal operation. If that doesn’t work, here are some other things to try (in increasing order of effort, complexity and time involved):
1. Restart the graphics driver: The key combination WinKey+Ctrl+Shift+B (Hold all keys down simultaneously: they’re all conveniently located in the lower-left corner of a typical Windows keyboard) restarts your graphics driver. Sometimes, this will restore normal display, and banish a black screen.
2. Forcibly reboot the PC: This is basically applying Microsoft’s mitigation advice through brute force. Power off the PC using the physical power button, or by powering off the PSU (desktops) or popping the battery (laptops, where applicable). When you next restart, your Reliability Index will be dinged for a “Windows was not properly shut down” error. But you can’t use a PC that only shows a black screen anyway, so that’s a necessary consequence of this technique.
3. Roll back the update in Recovery Console: If the black screen persists and you can’t get to the OS, you must boot your PC from recovery or rescue media. Assuming you boot to the Windows 10 Recovery Environment (WinRE), follow this sequence of screens: Troubleshoot → Advanced options → Uninstall Updates → Select “Uninstall latest quality update” or “Uninstall latest feature update” as appropriate. For more info, check out this excellent TenForums tutorial: Uninstall Windows Update.

If none of this works, you’re faced with two alternatives. First, if you have a current image backup available, restore that image. Personally, I make an image backup daily using Macrium Reflect, and am ready to restore at a moment’s notice. If that doesn’t work (if you have an image backup, it should), you’re faced with the ultima ratio regum  (“Last argument of kings”) as it applies to Windows. That is, it’s time for a clean install, or a total OS wipe-out and do-over, followed by a re-install of all apps and applications. I hope you don’t have to go that far to put your Windows back to work, for your sake and peace of mind. So do you, I imagine . . .

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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