Windows 10 rollout snafu: Day 37

Microsoft's fall feature upgrade, released on Oct. 2, was pulled from distribution four days later. The company has yet to restart the release.

patch on top of Windows logo
Thinkstock/Microsoft

Thirty-seven days after Microsoft withdrew the Windows 10 October 2018 Update from all distribution, the Redmond, Wash. company has yet to restart delivery.

The delay has no precedent in Windows 10 and has gone on significantly longer than instances in prior editions when updates, most of them security fixes, had to be pulled and then later re-released.

Microsoft debuted the fall feature upgrade, also known as 1809 in the firm's yymm format, on Oct. 2. Four days later - Oct. 6 - it retracted the release by yanking it from the Windows Update service and manual download sites, and warning users who had grabbed it to toss the disk image in the trash. The reason: Some users - Microsoft said 1/100th of 1% - reported that the upgrade deleted all files in several folders, including the important Documents and Photos directories.

On Oct. 9, Microsoft told those who had installed the upgrade to stay off their PCs and to call a toll-free number for help in possibly recovering some of the deleted files.

(Computerworld selected Oct. 6 as the start date for the delay because it was then that Microsoft halted dissemination.)

Other pauses - Microsoft's term for upgrade or update stoppages - have been much shorter, with the company typically rolling out a re-release within a handful of days. For example, a 2008 security patch meant to plug a hole in Windows' implementation of Bluetooth was re-issued in nine days. Earlier that same year, Microsoft took eight days to come up with a rejiggered fix for a math bug a previous patch had inserted into Excel. And in 2012, Microsoft re-released Office 2011 for Mac SP2 (Service Pack 2) five days after pulling it from distribution.

The last word on 1809's status was nearly five weeks ago, when John Cable, director of program management in the Windows servicing group, told customers that bugs had been fixed. But rather than again putting the general public at risk, the company handed the re-release to those who had volunteered to test the OS by signing up with the Windows Insider preview program.

And that's where it remains; Cable's post has not been updated since.

Microsoft has slipped a few nuggets of new 1809 information into a September post on the Insider blog. It was unclear why the company used that platform rather than refreshing Cable's post or crafting new posts; the latter would easily have been seen by more people. Ed Bott of ZDNet reported on the blog additions Nov. 9.

On Oct. 16, Microsoft fixed several bugs - including one that gave incorrect data on the "Processes" tab of the Task Manager utility, another that broke the Edge browser - and issued another 1809 update to Insider testers. Two weeks later, on Oct. 30, the company said it had patched 1809's handling of the .zip archive file format. In that problem, Windows 10 neglected to tell users that a copy of unexpanded .zip files had failed. Other users reported that moving .zip files resulted in those files being deleted, again without warning or notification.

The Oct. 30 bug fixes produced yet another 1809 update, which was pushed to Insiders.

This story, "Windows 10 rollout snafu: Day 37" was originally published by Computerworld.

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