Wow! It’s been quite an exciting past few days, what with the introduction of Win10 1809 on Tuesday, October 2 and its subsequent withdrawal on Friday, October 5. It’s been highly instructive to read the 80-odd pages of the TenForums thread devoted to this topic as well (as I write this post). It’s entitled “Windows 10 October 2018 Update rollout now paused.” For those with strong stomachs, ample patience, and lots of time on their hands — or professional curiosity, as in my case — it’s worth plowing through from start to finish. It explains in detail why the Win10 1809 circus is currently closed for intermission, that’s for sure!
How Many Rings in This Circus?
How high do you wish to keep counting, might be a better question. Certainly, the most grave fault with 1809 is an occasional tendency for those with OneDrive cloud synchronization turned on, for the upgrade process to lose all files in the Users folder hierarchy. Just to be clear that means losing some or all of the contents of the Documents, Pictures, Music and Video folders, along with others individual users might choose to add to their own unique collections. The whole point of the Users folder hierarchy is to protect important files from loss or harm, backed up with File History and OneDrive to echo those vital items into the cloud. Having them go “Pffft!” and vanishing from ken or recovery clearly violates this common MS practice. Some, but not all, users so affected have been able to recover their missing files from the OneDrive Recycle Bin (also in the cloud), but MS clearly appreciates that this is a serious fault that MUST be fixed before 1809 is allowed back into circulation.
But, alas, that’s not all that’s amiss with 1809. Here’s a list of some other faults I’ve combed from the afore-linked TenForums thread and other sources (including Martin Brinkman’s excellent “Bugs and issues of Windows 10 version 1809” list):
- Settings reset from custom to defaults (note: this is fairly common upgrade behavior, in my experience): System Restore turned off, restore points deleted; event viewer history cleared; Task Scheduler tasks reset and history cleared; preferences in Settings (e.g. files and folders) reset; application associations reset; Windows spotlight and other Personalization settings reset or missing; defrag and disk cleanup settings reset
- Win10 update freezes following first reboot during installation: this has happened with other Win10 upgrades, and often clears itself with the upgrade process continuing to completion after a cold reboot
- Driver issues, especially related to Intel drivers (chipsets, built-in graphics, storage, and more) have been reported. Logitech and Realtek drivers have also been singled out for specific mention (drivers missing or not working properly, in both cases). Some users report Nvidia driver issues that may be addressed by a complete uninstall/reinstall (preferably, using a third-party cleanup tool like DDU).
- Networking issues, ranging from mildly irritating (local network nodes don’t appear in File Explorer, shared drives can’t be accessed) to unacceptale (network interfaces disappear from Device Manager, and attempts to install NIC drivers fail)
- Edge browser unable to access Internet, plus some or all UWP applications (including the Store itself, plus Mail, Calendar, and News, among others) likewise affected: for some users who’ve turned off IPv6, re-enabling that protocol stack, or performing a network reset sets things back to rights. For other users, such fixes have no discernable (or helpful) effects.
- USB 3.0 devices, including both SuperSpeed (or better) capable hubs and storage devices, report as USB 2.1 in utilities like Uwe Sieber’s USBTreeView. Alas, they also behave accordingly, performance-wise, which means they don’t work as expected or needed any more. Sigh. This may simply count as a driver issue, but it’s significant enough to warrant separate mention here, IMO.
- Some users report inaccurate timestamps for Windows Defender scans (time of scan is ahead of Windows and system time).
- Intermittent or occasional lag, unresponsiveness and performance issues (this is a pretty common complaint for many Windows upgrades, and often reflects driver issues as well).
- WindowsToGo installs no longer work, or won’t run.
- Issues with screen brightness controls (raising brightness settings causes screen to dim, lowering settings makes it brighter). Other users report issues with “strange brightness levels” on their PCs after the upgrade. Often addressed by uninstall/reinstall graphics driver.
- Action Center quits working, or numerous and various notifications quit working therein. See this TenForums thread for possible fixes.
- Task Manager incorrectly reports CPU usage (see this Neowin article for a discussion).
What to Do?
If you haven’t upgraded yet, you can’t really do it right now unless you exercise unnecessary ingenuity. Wait for a new upgrade release to hit Windows Update and the Download Windows 10 page.
If you have upgraded and things are working OK, all you need to do is sit tight and wait for a cumulative update to come along. Hopefully, it will include fixes for some, if not all, of the items mentioned above. If things aren’t working OK, I’d recommend rolling back to 1803 and sitting tight again. If the rollback doesn’t work — it blew up on my Surface Pro 3, for example — you’ll want to restore your most recent backup before the upgrade was applied. Don’t have a backup? Oops! Time for a clean install of 1803, then, so sorry.
Important Lessons and Takeaways
Here are some topics and suggestions to ponder regarding MS upgrades in general, and this intermittently botched upgrade in particular.
- Conventional wisdom is to wait after an upgrade for the first or second cumulative update to be released (or until the second month after said release, given the high frequency of CUs lately: 3 or 4 in September, if memory serves).
- Best practice is to NEVER upgrade without making an image backup first. That way, you can always get back to where you started without too much muss or fuss. My production system gets backed up at 9 AM every morning, 365 (or 366) days a year. That’s why I don’t worry about upgrading that system overmuch. Of course that also means you MUST have recovery media for each upgraded system handy, too.
- MS is getting dinged — and fairly, too, IMHO — for skipping a Preview Release to a broader audience before letting 1809 Build 17763.1 go into public distribution. Some bugs don’t show up until a release goes public under any and all circumstances, but the current reported state of affairs is telling. Let’s hope they conclude from this exercise that more gradual release staging is still not just a good idea but a best practice.
- Businesses and critical applications generally use a delayed servicing option anyway (such as the previous semi-annual channel release) if not a long term servicing branch (LTSB) release, so they are less likely to suffer from such gyrations as a matter of deliberate policy. Less adventurous retail channel users may likewise wish to consider falling back a bit from the leading edge.
- Caveat emptor, baby! It’s your PC and your responsibility. Manage it carefully.
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.