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War Stories – Insider settings messing up my devices


A week ago, April 26th, the Insider team released Fast Ring build 18885. Being an Insider nut, all my physical devices have been in Fast or Skip Ahead rings since the start of that program in October, 2104. I know it’s a bit risky, with all production devices in Insider Fast ring or higher. But, knock on wood, I’ve had no major issues. I only run general availability releases on Hyper-V virtual machines.

Anyway, all my devices were upgraded immediately from the previous build 18875, to the most current one, 18885.

The Issue

I did not notice anything wrong, until only five days after 18885, Insider team surprised us Insiders with again a new build, build 18890. I was wondering why hours after the release, not one of my fast ring devices had picked up that upgrade. Checking Ten Forums, I saw that people around the globe were posting about their upgrade progress and starting to discuss this latest build.

Something was wrong. Going to Settings and checking once again, I noticed to my great surprise that I had been switched to the Slow Ring. This is something I most certainly had not done by myself. Worse yet, I was completely unable to switch back to the Fast Ring.

I ended up making an 18890 ISO using UUP Dump, importing it to the MDT Workbench (Microsoft Development Toolkit) and upgrading all other devices with MDT, then finally upgrading the MDT Workbench machine directly from a mounted 18890 ISO.

I blame myself for not noticing that there was something important missing on the Insider settings page. This is how it should look, showing the selected ring and your Insider account:

(Click screenshots to enlarge.) In my case, all devices showed that page as shown below, with my Insider account information missing, and the Insider settings ring switched to Slow:

The Solution

I have three Azure AD, so called workplace accounts, added to each device. I use one of them as my Windows Insider account. What I should have done when I noticed that Insider settings were missing on all devices, is to check the connected accounts. I did not check it. Finally today, after deciding to fix the ring issue, I did check. To my great surprise, no connected accounts were shown. Same on all devices, no accounts listed:

Now I realised that my inability to switch back to Fast Ring was clearly caused by system finding no connected Insider account, not on any device. “OK, let’s reconnect all devices to all Azure AD accounts,” I thought. This turned out to be much easier said than done, as this was what I got:

Notice the title of that error message. It’s quite confusing, isn’t it? “You’re all ready!“, then below it “Sorry, but it’s a no-no!“. On all devices, trying to add any Azure AD account, the same error. Checked Azure AD admin panel, everything was OK, all devices showing as connected. Decided to delete all devices in admin panel, and tried again. Even so, I was still unable to add a connected account to Windows.

I remembered a trick I had to use earlier when Windows Settings couldn’t connect to an Azure AD account. I opened the Windows Store and selected to add workplace account to it, which in its turn adds it to Windows as a connected account:

This worked. Windows Settings immediately showed the account as connected account, and Insider settings showed the connected account, my Insider for Business account. Now I was finally able to switch back to Fast Ring. Also the Azure AD admin panel showed that the first device I did this was now re-added to this workplace account:

However, you can only add one workplace account to Store. The next logical solution was to try the Windows Mail app, and add the missing two accounts to Windows using it. However, I had to reinstall Mail from the Store first as I do not use it, removing it and all for me unnecessary Store apps from my deployment images. I installed Mail, added the two missing workplace accounts as email accounts, and as hoped, Windows added them as connected accounts. I uninstalled the Mail app immediately thereafter, as the mission was completed and the app no longer needed. All three accounts were now connected to Windows, Insider ring settings correct! Now I just had to repeat this procedure on my other devices.

The Conclusion

Apparently, either during or directly thereafter, the build 18885 upgrade had removed my connected workplace accounts. If it had happened on only one device, I would consider it as a glitch, but it happening on all devices means there is something underlying Microsoft should check and fix. As I am completely blocked by Insider lead Dona Sarkar, and muted or blocked by most of her team, I have limited resources at my disposal to make them aware of this apparent connection between Insider upgrade and connected Azure AD accounts. I just hope the word gets out.

Anyway, I am back in Fast Ring. On all devices!

Kari

 

Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

2 Responses “War Stories – Insider settings messing up my devices”

  1. CountMike
    May 3, 2019 at 19:42

    Something most curious happened to me today. I updated from 18885 in the first hour it showed up. All worked, I cleaned it up from windows.old etc. Applied all my usual customizations and optimizations (imported presets from Winaero Tweaker), in other words usual stuff I do all the time. All that required few restarts and all was fine. Switched back to regular 1809 (it’s dual BOOT) and this morning started Skippy and checked for updates (morning routine) and to my surprise it started setup and download of 18890 again. What the heck I thought and checked numbers at the bottom and in winver and found out I’m back at 18885 !!!
    Remember, windows.old was deleted so that only leaves Restore partition to play with and I never started it. Now when it’s updated again (cleaned and everything)even sfc /scannow and all system checks are clear while at first update SFC wouldn’t go past 34%.
    I’m also finding some unusual entries in the boot menu that I didn’t put there.
    Windows 10 (1809), I put it there and named it
    Skippy, I put it there too as well as MR Restore and “Safe mode with networking”. that’s all I have in msconfig – BOOT.
    Other stuff i didn’t put in boot menu, something like just “Disk”, “UEFI disk 4” and “External disk” of which none were connected. Couple of others I don’t remember now but have nothing to do with any storage devices. So it looks like it changes other boot menu things that are not on it’s own disk.
    1809 is on Samsung 960 evo (M.2 NVMe SSD) set as default BOOT device and Skippy is on a Kingston A400 SSD.

    • May 3, 2019 at 20:31

      What I told in this post, what happened to you, for some users upgrade failing simply because they have a USB device connected, this all tells about issues in whole UUP system.

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