Microsoft admits to distributing Windows printing bugs in KB 3177725 and KB 3176493

Unfortunately, KB 3177725 is the 'magic' Win7 patch that speeds update scans. But here's a workaround

Microsoft admits to distributing printing bugs in KB 3177725 and KB 3176493

Attention Windows users: You can speed up your update scans or you can print multiple documents. In the wacky world of Windows, you can't do both.

Microsoft's latest Patch Tuesday bug appears to affect Vista, Windows 7, 8.1, RT 8.1, as well as Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2. More than that, it appears to clobber all versions of Windows 10. In other words, if you applied the latest cumulative update to any version of Windows 10, your printer won't work right.

(I say "appears" to affect because I haven't personally seen reports of problems with every version of every operating system since Vista, but there are documented instances for most of them -- including the recent Win10 versions.)

Microsoft has admitted to distributing the bug, but there's no indication when it will issue a fix.

Poster Kristjan G on the Microsoft Answers forum first reported the problem on Friday:

My company developes ERP software, printing invoices and sales orders etc is a critical part of our clients business.

The august 2016 updates for Windows 7 and Windows 10 have not been good. Many of our clients have called in, unable to print more than one page at a time, any more and they get blank page or corrupt printjob with an error. Problem is solved after uninstalling KB3176493 on Windows 10 and KB3177725 on Windows 7… What on earth is the connection between these updates and printing?

He makes a good point. The MS16-098/KB 3177725 (Windows 7 and 8.1)/KB 3176493 (Windows 10) patch is a "Security Update for Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers." It's one of those weird patches for a hole that "could allow elevation of privilege if an attacker logs on to an affected system and runs a specially crafted application that could exploit the vulnerabilities and take control of an affected system." In other words, in order to take over your system the bad guy already has to be inside your system -- definitely not an on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of patch. 

After first blaming printer manufacturers for their bad drivers (see Vidyashree_C's reply), Microsoft changed its tune on the Answers forum. 'Softie Dan Mattson said:

Thank you for reporting this.  I would like to let you know we are actively investigating this issue and have updated some of the KB articles involved with a Known Issues section:

"After you apply this security update and you print multiple documents in succession, the first two documents may print successfully. However, the third and subsequent documents may not print."

If publicly available information on this topic changes, we will provide an update here as well.

'Softie Chris Lewis also provides code for working around the problem -- if you make printing software and have access to the source, and you can get it out to your customers.

Kudos to bar-code print software manufacturer Seagull Scientific, which posted a warning on its BarTender support site on Thursday, before Microsoft fessed up to the problem:

Your exact symptoms and error messages may vary as the entire scope of the issue is not yet known.  The following symptoms are what have been reported.  BarTender will print 2-3 jobs successfully, and then throw one or more of the following BarTender or Windows errors when it tries to print… BarTender cannot use printer '<printer name>' to design, print or export a document due to a printer setup problem… Error_Operation_Aborted / The I/O operation has been aborted because of either a thread exit or an application request…

The issue appears to be directly related to specific Windows Updates from August 9, 2016.  Uninstalling the appropriate update should allow BarTender to return to normal functionality. Visit How to find and remove a Windows Update for instructions.

Seagull Scientific has a page devoted to removing Windows patches.

For those of you who have been following the sorry tale of abysmally slow Windows 7 Update scans and how to work around them, this is not a welcome development: KB 3177725 was the "magic" patch that inexplicably made August Update scan times go from many hours to a few minutes. I still have nightmares about one billion Windows 7 PCs wasting two to six hours going through meaningless loops while searching for updates.

At this point, the best advice I have is to install KB 3177725 when you're ready to look for the August patches (I still think it's too early to worry about them), and then manually uninstall KB 3177725 when you're done with your update scan.

Either that or don't print more than two pages at a time.

Let's see how long it takes Microsoft to fix this bug in a Windows 10 cumulative update.

We're seeing once again the congenital flaw in forced updates. Office 365 has hit several of them recently. For now, the Windows 10 cumulative update bugs haven't been earth-shattering. Let's hope our luck holds.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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