Windows 10 update KB 3081436 prompts reboots, throws error 0x80070bc9

Yet another Microsoft update, but It's the same bug all over again -- and it looks like Windows 10 feature improvements will wait for October

This is what happens when you don’t document a patch. Microsoft hasn’t documented any of the three Cumulative Updates (I still call them “Maintenance Releases”) it’s posted in the past nine days -- KB 3081424 on Aug. 5, KB 3081436 on Aug. 12, and KB 3081438 on Aug. 14. All of the KB articles say:

This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.

This really throws light on the subject, eh?

Like Maintenance Releases -- er, Cumulative Updates 1 and 2 -- KB 3081438 also puts PCs into an endless reboot loop. Reddit poster wubz1 puts it this way:

It's downloading the file just fine from Windows Update, but when it's rebooting the few times under the installment of the update, she is getting the error: We couldn’t complete the updates, Undoing changes. Don’t turn off your computer. Then it's taking time to reboot and stuff again, but when I log on again then I will have to download the update again and the same thing would happen.

Sound familiar? Apparently the fix I posted on Aug. 6 about removing bad user profiles worked in wubz1’s case.

I have no idea why it’s taking Microsoft so long to fix such a simply defined bug in its installer.

There’s also a report on French-speaking site GinjFo (English translation via Google) that the installer fails with error 0x80070bc9. The Windows TenForums talks about error 0x8020002b.

The lack of documentation has led to all sorts of weird situations. The now well-known inability of Windows 10 on some machines to download or install apps (both built-in apps and newly acquired apps) from the Windows Store has raised more questions.

Mary Jo Foley first brought the problem to wide attention in her Aug. 9 article in ZDNet. She then declared on Aug. 14 that “Microsoft has fixed a Windows 10 Store issue that brought Windows Store app updates and downloads to a halt for a number of users.” That declaration came before KB 3081438 rolled out. Foley updated her post to say, “I am still hearing from a few Windows 10 users that they're still having problems with the Store and Store apps.”

Then on Aug. 15, after KB 3081438 appeared, she posted again, this time saying that KB 3081438 had fixed the problem, per Microsoft. “A Microsoft spokesperson did let me know that the new update is designed to fix the Windows 10 Store issues which had been affecting a number of us Windows 10 users for the past week.” Foley goes on to say, perplexed, “For me and a number of others affected by the Windows 10 Store glitch, KB3081438 wasn't needed to fix the Store issues.”

Does Cumulative Update/Maintenance Release 3 fix the Windows Store problem? Who knows? I’ve seen several reports on Reddit that the problem continues, both with updates through Windows Store and specifically with problems in Windows Mail, even after 3081438 was installed.

Documentation aside, man, how times have changed.

Compare and contrast this three-patches-in-nine-days pace with the leisurely, monolithic Windows 8 patching scheme. It took a year after Windows 8 hit for the new Windows team, led by Terry Myerson, to turn out Windows 8.1, in October 2013. Windows 8.1 Update 1, KB 2919355, arrived in April 2014 -- six months after 8.1. At the time, there were strong rumors of a planned Update 2 and Update 3.

If you were around back then, you’ll no doubt recall how Microsoft forced Update 1 on Win 8.1 users, threatening to hold off further patches after May 13, 2014, even if Update 1 didn’t install on their machines. Microsoft backed off a bit, fixed some problems including an embarrassing BSOD, and extended the deadline to June 30. From that point on, Update 1 behaved much like an anchored-in-concrete Service Pack: Install it or you’re out in the cold. You may also recall that Update 2 completely fizzled out, and Update 3 was never heard from again.

Instead, the Windows dev team turned its attention to Windows 10. Like it or hate it, fear the privacy breaches or loathe the forced updates, there’s one incontrovertible Win10 fact: Microsoft’s holding true to its promise to keep Win10 updated frequently. We’ve seen very few new features since July 29 -- the only one I can think of is the re-introduction of the Spotlight advertising tunnel in Windows 10 Home -- presumably because the new features are awaiting the next version of Windows 10, Threshold 2, due to debut in October. Instead of new features, we’re getting plumbing fixes and a passel of patches. Threshold 2 (I think of it as “Service Pack 1”) could bring a host of new features, many of which were painfully missing from the RTM (er, 10240) build on July 29.

In my experience and using my admittedly archaic terminology, what we’ve seen is a rapid-fire succession of Maintenance Releases, and we’re looking at Service Pack 1 for October. If it works, that’s very good news indeed.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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