Patch Tuesday problems persist: Start stops, Edge crumbles, Outlook and VMware shake

It looks as if we’ve escaped the major inherited bug in Microsoft’s rapid-fire series of Windows patches — the printing problems have subsided. Now we’re seeing reports of a second wave of bugs: Start menu has critical errors, Edge won’t launch, Outlook won’t authenticate, and VMware looks suspect. It’s a mighty mess.

Broken window with Windows 10 logo

I reported two days ago that Microsoft seems to have fixed the printing bugs it introduced in the first CVE-2019-1367 Internet Explorer zero-day patch — and apparently reintroduced with the two additional CVE-2019-1367 patches. That’s the good news.

Now I have some bad news. Old bugs are back again, and some new ones seem to be crawling out of the primordial Windows ooze. Let’s take them from the most prevalent (or at least, the ones that generated the most screams of pain) to the ones that appear to infect infrequently.

Start Menu stops with a Critical Error

Many more people are reporting that, after installing the Win10 version 1903 patch KB 4517389, the Start menu doesn’t work: Click on Start and you get a Critical Error. On Reddit, poster pyork211099 has narrowed it down:

Last two Cumulative Updates have [generated Critical Errors]. Finally found an error message about it though (2 actually one for StartMenu and one for Shell):

Activation for Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy!App failed. Error code: This app does not support the contract specified or is not installed.. Activation phase: No phase defined


Activation for Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy!App failed. Error code: This app does not support the contract specified or is not installed.. Activation phase: No phase defined

That thread has confirmation from many others, including a replication of the error reports from poster Chaori. I’ve also seen copious complaints on the Microsoft Answers forum (1, 2, 3). Poster O. Berkeley offers this screenshot:

start menu critical error Woody Leonhard/IDG

And goes on to say:

  1. If I uninstall this update, the problem goes away.
  2. I tried reinstalling this update, but the same problem occurs.
  3. Even in Safe Mode with this update installed, the Start Menu won't work.
  4. I've even tried temporarily disabling my antivirus to see if there was some sort of incompatibility. It makes no difference.

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem, but dismissed it in the Release Information Status page:

Some users report issues related to the Start menu and Windows Desktop Search

Microsoft has received reports that a small number of users are having issues related to the Start menu and Windows Desktop Search.

Affected platforms:

  • Client: Windows 10, version 1903

Resolution: At this time, Microsoft has not found a Search or Start issue significantly impacting users originating from KB4515384. We will continue monitoring to ensure users have a high-quality experience when interacting with these areas. If you are currently having issues, we recommend you to take a moment to report it in via the Feedback Hub (Windows + F) then try the Windows 10 Troubleshoot settings (found in Settings). If you are having an issue with search, see Fix problems in Windows Search.

Status: Resolved September 19, 2019 04:58 PM PT

If the bug's been resolved, Microsoft needs to tell a few hundred complainers that they're all wet.

It’s not just the Start menu. Other components are disappearing. Consider this report from schwabel_ronald yesterday:

My Start Menu is working fine after every one of the updates. What I am seeing is when I try to use the Task Bar Search box, the Cortana icon and the Action Menu. They all refuse to respond to any actions.

I just checked and I have [disabled Web browsing by setting] HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search “BingSearchEnabled” registry entry set to 0.

That may be the source of the problem. Setting BingSearchEnabled to 0 is a common way to prevent Windows from going out to the web in response to every search you type in the search box.

If you’re encountering this problem, Günter Born’s recent article may have a solution.

Edge and Outlook won’t work

I also see multiple reports that, after installing the latest patch, Edge won’t start. An anonymous poster on AskWoody says:

Edge is broken for me. Out of Band patches already applied: 4522014 and 4524149. After application of 4520008 [the Win10 version 1803 Patch Tuesday patch], Edge will not launch.

Poster smcabery offers more details:

Just manually installed KB4517389 on a VM and the printing issue does seem to be fixed however Edge would not run. Outlook would not run. Upon further review there were several processes suspended. Uninstalled KB4517389 and VM was working perfectly with no processes suspended. VM is currently sitting at 18362.357

RealSurfy on the Microsoft Answers Forum says:

Edge does not work anymore. It does not start anymore. Internet Explorer starts and runs. I´ve i deinstall update KB4517389 everythink works as before. Apart from VMware 14, which does not work anymore, too.

And Al McNaught says:

I have also experienced this on multiple machines. Anything that had KB4524147 installed and removed gets broken by KB4517389. The main symptom I'm seeing is that Outlook will no longer authenticate to Office 365.

What to do? Wait.

There’s exactly zero reason to install the October Patch Tuesday patches just yet. If you’re concerned about the CVE-2019-1367 zero-day that saw so much publicity (and still hasn’t been exploited in the real world), you’re better off using a browser other than IE and changing your default browser to something else — which you should’ve done long ago. Other than that, watch and listen. 

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake ...

We’re still at MS-DEFCON 1 — don’t patch — on AskWoody.

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