When is an operating system update not an update? When the new, “improved” version takes four steps backwards for each step it’s supposed to advance.
This seems to be the case so far with the latest update to Microsoft’s Windows 10.
As well as being good for the soul, Microsoft-bashing is an easy activity to indulge in – especially since the company keeps giving users so many reasons to keep doing it. Indeed, the software giant’s update strategy for Windows 10 has been presenting commentators with a range of easy targets.
While it may not be as big a debacle as Windows 8, or 8.1, this latest update to the Windows 10 platform is turning out to be a real pane (pun intended). In this article, we’ll be considering the reasons why.
Some background, first…
Killing off the “gone but nobody remembered it anyway, really” Windows 8.x series, Microsoft introduced not only a brand new operating system (OS) in Windows 10, but also a new philosophy for issuing updates.
Windows 10 was designed to have a faster update cycle than previous versions, and with Microsoft’s focus on corporate users as its target customer base, the corporation set out a phased system consisting of four distinct update types: Security Updates, Hotfixes, Optional Updates, and Update Roll-ups.
Understandably enough, Security Updates are a priority and should be applied as soon as possible once they become available.
Designed to address specific issues or solve specific problems, corporate users are advised to download and install Hotfixes at their own discretion – if, for example, IT departments judge a given problem to be currently affecting the business, or might do so in future.
Optional Updates are issued monthly. As the name suggests, users are free to test them out and apply them (or not) as they see fit.
Update Roll-ups are packages of several Hotfixes with an automatic system reboot, which users can again test out before choosing to apply them or not. This option includes a class of so-called “Convenience Roll-ups” which IT professionals are advised to apply last of all to update various baseline aspects of their Windows 10 environment.
Following up on their promise to make Windows 10 a “Windows-as-a-Service” offering for businesses (updates issued from the cloud, just like the Windows Update service uses at consumer level), Microsoft also introduced the concept of “testing rings” for its update cycles. These are like trial runs of an update package that are issued to a small group of users before being released to the wider market.
Users of the various business editions of Windows 10 have the option of using Microsoft’s Windows Update for Business (WUB) feature, which enables them to pause or postpone Windows 10 updates at their own discretion.
A preview of troubles ahead?
As anyone who’s ever faithfully downloaded and installed a number of security patches or device drivers could tell you, not all operating system updates are created equal. Online, there are entire forums dedicated to cataloguing the problems and quirks encountered by users when making the switch to Windows 10, in the first place. And there are posts and discussions highlighting the various issues raised by Windows 10 Updates in the past.
This was the case with the update cycle immediately preceding the one we’ll get to in a moment. A number of users complained of problems after having downloaded the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – what was supposed to be a major upgrade to Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Issues were encountered both during installation, and after. These ranged from error messages indicating a failure to even download the update in the first place, through to last-second errors causing the installation to fail and the update program to roll everything back to where your operating system was before.
Microsoft signalled an intention to address some of these issues in its next (and most recent) update – the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. But evidence suggests that they weren’t entirely successful.
Swinging the Reaper’s scythe
For starters, the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (a.k.a. Windows 10 version 1803) swung the axe on a number of previously existing features, and indicated the intention to phase out several others in the future.
The update killed off the Groove Music Pass, in the year after Microsoft discontinued its Groove music streaming service. Streaming music fans on Windows 10 are being advised to use Spotify – which, incidentally, you can download for free here at FileHippo.
Sharing of files and printers in a home network via the HomeGroup feature has also bitten the dust, meaning users are now required to employ the set of tools built into Windows 10 for sharing purposes.
Windows 10’s People app no longer has the ability to include unsaved contacts for non-Microsoft accounts, and its Conversations section no longer works offline – users now have to have an Office 365 account in order to enjoy this functionality.
Offline users will also have problems getting help from the Windows Help Viewer app, as all Windows 10 help information is now being hosted online.
Other features being pared down include the Contacts feature of File Explorer (use the People app instead), and Windows 10’s Phone Companion app (users are advised to use the Phone section of the Settings app).
Opinions on this are varied and subjective. Some regard the changes as sensible, while others look upon them as yet another set of alterations to have to get used to, or work around.
Some real panes in the…
Early adopters of Microsoft’s Windows 10 April 2018 Update have also encountered a number of serious usability problems stemming from what’s been added to their operating system installations, as opposed to taken away.
The most common complaint is that after installing Windows 10 version 1803, existing installations of Google’s Chrome browser freeze when you fire them up. A similar problem has been reported by users of Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Visual Studio Code. And after trying to initiate the Windows 10 virtual assistant app with a “Hey, Cortana”, some systems have been reported as hanging or freezing up.
A number of mouse users have also confirmed that their input devices have stopped working since installing the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, and a small group of users have complained of their entire desktops disappearing.
Besides these major application issues, a number of other annoyances and unintended side-effects from the Windows 10 version 1803 installation have been noted. These include microphones not being able to pick up any sound, apps becoming unable to access the Camera function, new partitions appearing on people’s hard drives (created by the Windows 10 April 2018 Update as an Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM Partition), and the disabling of important system features like Fast Startup and System Restore. Windows 10’s latest update apparently also installs a number of new keyboard layouts without asking the user’s permission.
In the last few days, there have been calls for Microsoft to begin paying compensation to users who have been beset with problems and forced to pay huge bills for fixing software issues caused by the latest update to Windows 10 – so the situation is pretty dire.
Some fixes for Windows 10 update woes
Along with outlets for moaning about what a pane the latest update to Windows 10 is, the internet also hosts a number of resources advising on how best to overcome those Windows 10 version 1803 blues.
Advice and workarounds from trusted sources like TechRadar range from simple pre-installation tweaks (check your internet connection, free up enough disk space, disable anti-virus software) to specific procedures for addressing problems such as boot issues (install in Safe Mode from a USB drive), or dealing with unanticipated side-effects of the installation process.
If you’d like to know more about Windows 10 update issues, and stay up to date with developments in the world of software and IT – we’ll keep you posted here at FileHippo.