OK, I admit it. I was fooling around on my wife’s PC last Friday, and I noticed that Wmiprvse.exe threw an AppCrash in Reliability Monitor. This is the executable that runs the Windows Management Instrumentation service. As I would come to learn, it’s tied to many kinds of activities within Windows 10. I also learned from direct observation that it’s tied to Windows Update as well. That happened after I blithely implemented this exceptionally bad advice from a WindowsReport story “Some users are suggesting to permanently disable this service, so you might want to try that as well.” This is not a good idea, as it turns out.
Some Windows services are essential to proper Win10 functioning. WMI is one of them.
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Self-Inflicted Wounds Still Hurt
I realized my mis-step as soon as I tried to run Windows Update after following that advice. When I tried to apply KB4550945 on her machine, the update failed during the post-GUI reboot with an “unable to install” error message. I proved to myself it was the lack of WMI that caused the issue by next downloading the .MSI version from the Windows Catalog, and watching closely as it tried its install. It hung for quite some time at 20% during that process.
At that point, I jumped back into services.msc and restored the Windows Management Instrumentation service start-up type to its default value (“Automatic”). Then, I forcibly started it back up. Immediately, the progress bar on the MSI installer started moving again, and the update proceeded to a successful conclusion. That explains the failed attempt (below) and the successful one (above) in the snippet of Update History shown next.
The initial attempt failed because WMI service was disabled.
Once turned back on, it succeeded on the second try.
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The WMI Story
I’ve used the Windows Management Interface Command (WMIC) for years, and am learning its numerous more-or-less-equivalent WMI PowerShell cmdlets (Get-WMIObject, Invoke-WMIMethod, Register-WMIEvent, Remove-WMIObject and Set-WMIInstance; see this Managed Reference from MS DOCS for the details) as well. As this Varonis tutorial illustrates, there’s a lot of stuff you can do with WMI, for all kinds of purposes, both benign and malign. And then, there’s the master reference itself at MS DOCS entitled Windows Management Instrumentation. Suffice it to observe that you can inquire about much of what Windows 10 is, what it has running, how it’s working, and more using WMI. Ditto for changing things of those sorts, too. It’s enough to convince me that “fooling around with WMI” is about as dangerous and risky as is doing likewise with the Windows Registry (also not recommended).
As for me, I’ve learned my lesson and will be leaving WMI alone. I’ve reported the AppCrash to Feedback Hub, and will see if it prompts any response from MS. My gut feel is that this will be something that might possibly show up in a future Cumulative Update. Or not. Going forward, I’ll keep an eye on things, but won’t be messing with the WMI service any more. Live and learn. This time, with no apparent lingering unwanted after-effects. Thank goodness!
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.