March madness: Microsoft's terrible month of Windows and Office patches

Microsoft faces a metric mess of Windows and Office bugs after last month's respite

March madness: Microsoft's terrible month of patches
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On Tuesday, March 14, Microsoft released a big crop of patches for every version of Office since 2007 and every version of Windows since Vista. Many of those patches are broken. We're only beginning to document the fallout.

Recall that Microsoft officially cancelled Patch Tuesday in February. There were a couple of updates for Win 8.1 and Win 10 to incorporate Adobe's Flash fixes into Internet Explorer 11, but other than a handful of tiny, ancillary patches, the automatic update well ran dry in February. I still haven't heard why the patches stopped -- Dan Goodin at Ars Technica has a well-reasoned rant.

This month, the problem bucket runneth over.

The day after, we started seeing reports about a handful of Windows patches that break Microsoft's Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM 2013 OnPremises. Installing any of these security patches causes severe problems with formatting certain CRM reports:

  • KB 4013429: The Win10 1607 cumulative update for build 14393.953
  • KB 4013198: The analogous Win10 1511 cumulative update, build 10586.839
  • KB 4012606: The analogous Win10 1507 (LTSB) cumulative update, build 10240.17319
  • KB 4012215: The Monthly Rollup ("Security Monthly Quality Rollup") for Win7 and Server 2008 R2
  • KB 4012216: The Monthly Rollup for Win 8.1 and Server 2012 R2
  • KB 4012204: MS17-006, the March cumulative Internet Explorer patch

Any of those patches. As I reported on March 17, they also break Telerik RadListBox controls. Gavin Clarke at The Register reported yesterday that the patches break Telerik RadWindow controls as well. There are even reports of problems with various Internet Explorer compatibility modes.

There's a list of workarounds to the CRM 2011 problems on the AskWoody Lounge, that involve adding strange commands to the global.css.aspx file. The only real fix is to disable the offending security patch(es). Microsoft has not confirmed the problem, to the best of my knowledge, or offered a solution.

However, Microsoft pushed out another Windows 10 1607 cumulative update, KB 4015438, bringing the build number up to 14393.969. That's two Win10 1607 cumulative updates in less than a week, an unprecedented pace for the Anniversary Update.

In theory that second, rushed cumulative update fixes two very obscure bugs in the week-earlier cumulative update. I wonder if the real reason is that the 14393.969 version makes it easier to upgrade to the forthcoming Win10 Creators Update, due Real Soon Now.

Then we saw reports of the Excel 2010 security patch, KB 3178690, freezing and crashing Windows. Microsoft confirmed the bug and stopped pushing the patch as a Recommended fix, which is automatically installed on many Win 7, 8.1 and 10 machines. The latest status: "We are urgently working on a fix and I will keep this thread updated when we have more information."

With that track record, you might think Microsoft would lay low. Not a chance. On Monday, Microsoft re-re- ... released our old favorite Windows snooping patch, KB 3150513. Cue the moans and groans.

Other problems have come creeping out of the woodwork.

On the Microsoft Answers forum, ThomasSpero reports:

I am getting a note at the bottom of the Microsoft Security Essentials page that says "Preliminary scan results show that malicious or potentially unwanted software might exist on your system. You can review detected items when the scan has completed.

That problem is apparently linked to the March Monthly Rollup for Win7.

The Word 2016 KB 3178674 Security Update unexpectedly messes with the appearance of some characters, particularly with the Microsoft Equation editor and MathType equations.

Office Click-to-Run breaks Outlook search when running on a POP3 connection. Poster egnatius on the Answers forum says:

Outlook 2016 MSO (16.0.7830.1013) 32-bit, as part of a Office 365 Home Premium subscription that I recently updated to Version 1702 (Build 7870.2024)… Since I updated to the latest version, whenever I attempt to search my inbox I get no results. This happens whether I select the current folder, the current mailbox, subfolders or all Outlook items.

That's quite a kit of problems, one week after release, wouldn't you say?

Keep me posted on your Windows and Office problems on the AskWoody Lounge.

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