Bugs continue to haunt Win10 version 1909

Billed as the kinder, gentler update to Windows, the latest version 1909 is still plagued by persistent wake-up and botched search.

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Remember the hype about the Win10 version 1909 upgrade — how this fall's Win10 1903 update would contain all of the 1909 features, lacking only the flip of a light switch to turn them on? Here’s how Microsoft puts it:

Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 share a common core operating system with an identical set of system files. Therefore, the new features in Windows 10, version 1909 were included in the latest monthly quality update for Windows 10, version 1903 (released October 8, 2019), but are in an inactive and dormant state. These new features will remain dormant until they are turned on through the “enablement package,” a small, quick-to-install “master switch” that activates the Windows 10, version 1909 features.

Demonstrably, two well-documented bugs in 1909 have nothing to do with master switches. To quote a noted industry authority, “Bah! Humbug!”

The first bug, a persistent wake-up call, only occurs on some machines, but it’s very annoying. An anonymous poster on AskWoody describes it this way:

Since the [1909 upgrade], my computer wakes up every day around 10 AM (it could be worse..), Using “powercfg/lastwake” in a command shell I found it was waking due to a scheduled task:

‘NT TASK\Microsoft\Windows\UpdateOrchestrator\Universal Orchestrator Start’

It appears that an Admin account running Task Scheduler (Admin mode) can’t edit or disable the two apps that contain “wake to run” settings. In other forums, people have found that various “fixes” get reset by Windows. This acts like malware. The worst thing is that the computer STAYS ON ignoring any sleep times you have set in your Power & Sleep setting.

Resident expert @abbodi86 says he knows of ways to disable the task, but they’ll get re-enabled during Windows Update scans. Nothing you can do about it.

Does that sound like a flipped “master switch” to you?

The second bug is far more widespread — indeed, ubiquitous. Many people consider it a deal breaker. Mayank Parmar at Windows Latest has a thorough analysis:

Windows 10 version 1909 includes an updated File Explorer that allows you to quickly preview the search results of local and OneDrive contents. While the new search bar is useful, it freezes for a long period of time and this has been confirmed by a good number of users … [version 1909] also disables right-click in the File Explorer and users cannot paste text in the search bar with the mouse.

Doesn’t sound like a “master switch” to me. In fact, it sounds like somebody decided to replace the code that implements File Explorer Search — and botched it. But the infamy doesn’t stop there. It looks like Microsoft has known about the problem since shortly after (or maybe before) 1909 shipped, and has been sitting on its thumbs. Per Parmar:

In the changelog of Windows 10 20H1 Build 19013, Microsoft noted that it has resolved an issue where it is not possible to set focus to File Explorer’s search box.

> We fixed an issue where you could get into a state where it wasn’t possible to set focus to File Explorer’s search box in order to type your query.

Sure sounds like Microsoft knows all about at least part of the problem — and fixed it in beta build 19013, which went out on Oct. 29. Consider, though, that Microsoft officially shipped Win10 1909 on Nov. 12, apparently with at least part of the bug intact. There’s been one cumulative update since then, on Dec, 10, and it didn’t fix the File Explorer Search bug either.

Parmar goes on to note that Microsoft fixed yet other manifestations of the File Explorer Search bug(s) in beta build 19536, released on Dec. 16:

We’ve updated the new File Explorer search experience to enable you to remove previous searches via an option if you right click the entry in the dropdown.

We fixed an issue resulting in the first character of your query getting dropped when “automatically type into the search box” File Explorer setting was enabled.

Parmar’s optimistic about the future:

We don’t know when Microsoft is planning to backport the fixes to Windows 10 November 2019 Update, but it’s likely to happen in January 2020.

Wish I shared his optimism.

@abbodi86 explains what’s going on behind the scenes:

In 1909, the upper bar of File Explorer (address + search box) no longer belongs to the Win32 platform. It’s a hybird WinRT (UWP) feature. It’s half-baked, ugly, slow, and requires some prerequisite tasks to even semi-function (clipboard and other services including the MsCtfMonitor task schedule).

By the way, there is a way to turn this feature off and restore the old behavior, using the third party tool mach2.exe. But even with that, the system will revert to the new buggy, bad version after a short amount of time, or on reboot.

There’s been no acknowledgment of either bug in the Official Known Issues list

We can jump through all sorts of semantic hoops, but to me we aren’t looking at “a common core operating system with an identical set of system files.” At least with the File Explorer Search bug(s), we’re looking at substantially different modules — one of which appears to be an attempt to change from Win32 to WinRT — with disastrous results.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the “master switch” is another piece of marketing drivel. Don’t get me wrong: I greatly appreciate the subdued nature of the 1909 upgrade and hope and pray to all that is Winholy that Microsoft will switch to major upgrades once a year. But 1903 and 1909 are two different code bases, no matter how you slice it.

I still won’t install 1909 on my production machines. 

Join us for the Ghost of Christmas Present on AskWoody.com.

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