Odd problems remain unresolved, but get the April Windows and Office patches installed

In spite of persistent reports of pesky problems with April’s updates, there doesn’t seem to be a single point of pain. You need to watch out for the long-documented 'missing' data/zapped desktop bug, and it’s possible your printers will get knocked offline, but by and large now’s a good time to install the April patches.

Open windows with billowy curtains

If you haven’t yet installed the April Windows and Office patches, now’s a good time to release the kraken. With a bit of prudent precaution, of course.

If you have click-to-run versions of Office, you may start seeing “Compile error: / Can’t find project or library” error messages, but those are understood — and, surprisingly, they’re for your own good.

Microsoft still hasn’t fixed the reboot race condition that leads to “missing” data (which isn’t really missing at all, just relocated to a completely inscrutable location), but that problem is also well understood now. It’s just a pain.

Microsoft’s unprecedented request for information about reported problems this month hasn’t yielded anything concrete that I can see — no telling what’s gone on behind closed doors — while my quarantined spidey sense hasn’t picked up any new clues. There just seem to be a lot of random patching problems with no discernible root cause, possibly amplified by the Windows echo chamber.

At any rate, there don’t appear to be any fixes on the immediate horizon, so now’s a good time to make sure you have all of the regular April patches installed. Make sure you studiously avoid the “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch KB 4550945.

Here’s how to get caught up.

Make a full backup

Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup

Install the latest Win10 April Cumulative Update

If you haven’t yet moved to Win10 version 1909 (in the Windows search box type winver and hit Enter), I recommend that you do so. The bugs in version 1903 are largely replicated in 1909 and vice versa, so there’s very little reason to hold off on making the switch — although, admittedly, there’s almost nothing worthwhile that’s new in version 1909. I have detailed instructions for moving to 1909 here.

To get the latest April Cumulative Update installed, click Start > Settings > Update & Security. If you see a Resume updates box (screenshot), click on it.

1909 updates paused Woody Leonhard/IDG

That’s all you need to do. Windows, in its infinite wisdom, will install the April Cumulative Update at its own pace. If you don’t see a Resume updates box, you already have the April Cumulative update and you’re good to go.

If you see a come-on for the “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch KB 4550945 (screenshot), simply ignore it. There’s absolutely nothing in that patch that you need or want, and it’s causing all sorts of problems.

1909 optional update available 3 Woody Leonhard/IDG

With any luck, this will be the last time you have to studiously avoid installing an “optional, non-security C/D Week” patch. There’s a reason why Microsoft is discontinuing these step-in-the-mess “optional” patches.

When your machine comes back up for air, don’t panic if your desktop doesn’t look right, or you can’t log in to your usual account. You got bit by the “temporary profile” bug, which we’ve known about — and complained about — for months. We have three separate threads on AskWoody about solving the problem [1, 2, 3] and if you need additional help, you can always post a question. (Thx @PKCano.)

Also, don’t be overly surprised if you discover that, after installing the April patches, your printers don’t connect. AskWoody’s Patch Lady, Susan Bradley, has an active investigation into the causes and fixes. 

While you’re mucking about with Windows Update, it wouldn’t hurt to Pause updates, to take you out of the direct line of fire the next time Microsoft releases a buggy bunch of patches. Click Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click “Pause updates for 7 days.” Next, click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” four more times. That pauses all updates for 35 days, until early June. With a little luck that’ll be long enough for Microsoft to fix any bugs it introduces in June. And May, for that matter.

Patch Win7, Win8.1 or associated servers

If you’ve paid for Win7 Extended Security Updates and you’re having trouble getting them installed, Microsoft has a new article called "Troubleshoot issues in Extended Security Updates" that may be of help. We’re also fielding questions on AskWoody. 

If you’ve paid Microsoft for Extended Security Updates and can’t get them to install, make sure you follow all of the steps at the bottom of KB 4550964, the April Monthly Rollup Knowledge Base article. In particular, you need to install all outstanding updates, then get the Servicing Stack Update installed, before the April patch will appear.

If you’re running Win7 and haven’t been able to get Extended Security Updates working, @abbodi86 offers a script that’ll let you install the latest Win7 security patches, bypassing the ESU restrictions.

Several high-profile security guri, including Patch Lady Susan Bradley, have called on Microsoft to open up its April 2020 Win7 patches to everybody, particularly considering the number of people who are working from home, on older machines, through no fault of their own. I echoed that call in "Five steps Microsoft should take RIGHT NOW to help us through the pandemic." Doesn’t look like Microsoft’s going to do it. A pity, really, because giving away the patches in these traumatic times would be a magnanimous gesture, quite unlike the old Microsoft. 

Windows 8.1 continues to be the most stable version of Windows around. To get this month’s puny Monthly Rollup installed, follow "AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups." You should have one Windows patch, dated April 14 (the Patch Tuesday patch). No, you don’t want the Preview of Monthly Rollup.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in "AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping." If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in "AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model."

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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