Reports say the manual-install-only 'Stretch' bug fix for Win7 and 2008R2 deletes boot file

If you’re trying to install last week’s free fix for Win7 and 2008 R2, KB 4539602 — surprise! Microsoft changed the files yesterday. No indication of what happened or why, but plenty of admins are reporting widespread damage.

Broken window with Windows 10 logo

Remember the manual-download-only patch For Win7/Server 2008 released late last week? You may know it better as KB 4539602.  

Microsoft changed the downloadable installation files yesterday. Microsoft didn't modify the Knowledge Base article, though, so we have no idea what changed, but that's par for the course, eh?

Several admins on Reddit chimed in with ybillo, who said:

Check with your clients who have or are running Windows Server 2008. There is a windows update that is deleting boot file for windows. It was released after they had announced end of support for Server 2008 & Windows 7.

Microsoft update KB4539602

Microsoft released the update to fix issues with the Background but its causing more harm than its supposed to do. Yesterday (9th-feb) one of our clients [bank] we had an issue of the same on 3 Avaya servers running windows server 2008.

Kindly treat this as urgent.

There's a chorus of agreement about the problem in that Reddit thread, but no acknowledgment in the official Knowledge Base article.

Richard Speed at The Register points the finger at Microsoft’s documented prerequisites:

In a nutshell, users must have the 23 September 2019 (or later) SHA-2 update installed as well as the servicing stack update from 12 March 2019 or later, before they unleash the fix. And naturally you'll need to reboot after these updates. Because, hey, everyone loves rebooting a server, right?

Which is all well and good, but if your machine doesn't have SHA-2 support, you shouldn’t be able to install the patch (which is signed with SHA-2). That’s been true for several months. 

The Servicing Stack Update is another matter altogether. Perhaps yesterday’s changes to the installation files ensured that the latest SSU was in place before installing the patch. Cart. Horse. You know.

At any rate, Microsoft hasn’t documented any of it, leaving many of us shaking our heads — and our fists — once again.

Join the shakeathon on

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