Microsoft announced yesterday that it is re-releasing the ill-fated Windows 8.1 Update 2 patch, KB 2975719. For those of you who had Automatic Update turned on last Black Tuesday, Aug. 12, and who didn't brick your machines (many users with Auto Update were hit with persistent black screens), it isn't clear, based on Microsoft's instructions, if you should -- or must -- manually remove the old 2975719 before installing the new.
Clear as mud, I know. But if you survive installing the new KB 2975719, your Windows 8 machine will be running Windows 8.1 Update 2 version 2, the latest and greatest Windows of all.
Windows 8.1 Update 2, you may recall, is the mercifully toothless update to Windows 8.1 Update (or "Update 1," as insiders call it). Many people, present company included, were scared Update 2 would be another "required" update to Windows 8.1, as was the case with the original Windows 8.1 Update, KB 2919355. That update led to rounds of glitches and fixes -- some of which haven't been solved to this day.
Although originally touted as a roll-up of bug fixes and new features -- ZDNet's Ed Bott has an excellent overview of the intended result -- reality missed the mark. Before the patch was released, a widely anticipated new feature that blocks old Java plug-ins for IE was yanked. I haven't heard of that feature resurfacing as yet and never understood why an IE update warranted mention among Windows patches in the first place.
The other, modest improvements now appear ready for prime time -- for a second time: Three new settings for precision touchpads; Miracast receive (which gives your computer the ability to receive Miracast broadcasts); and the ruble becomes an official currency character.
To fully understand Microsoft's instructions for installing Windows 8.1 Update 2 version 2/KB 2975719, you must first understand the tortured history of a separate patch that was also released on Aug. 12. That second and unrelated patch, known originally as KB 2982791, was part of the MS14-045 security bulletin. It, too, caused blue-screen stops (on Windows 7) and black screens (on Windows 8). As I explained last week, that patch has been "expired" ("terminated with extreme prejudice" is more accurate), and replaced with a nearly identical clone called KB 2993651. As I also explained last week, I can't recall any time Microsoft has ever replaced a botched security patch with a patch of a different number -- that adds to the confusion here, too.
Here's the problem: Microsoft is now telling Windows customers they need to go through the complex manual uninstall procedure for KB 2982791 before they install the new version of this completely different patch, KB 2975719. If you aren't confused, you haven't been following along. Here's the official word from the Windows blog on the new KB 2975719:
Customers who have already installed the original update that was released on August 12, 2014, and who may have experienced an issue, can read this KB article that details instructions on how to resolve the issue before the new updates will install automatically.
The referenced link points to the manual removal instructions for the now-defunct KB 2982791, as well as three accompanying bad patches KB 2970228, KB 2975719, and KB 2975331 (which is an update rollup).
I've read that sentence about a hundred times now, and I can't tell for sure if it means you must manually uninstall the original patch before you can manually install the new KB 2975719. I also can't tell, for the life of me, whether you have to uninstall all of the old patches -- KB 2982791, KB 2970228, and KB 2975331 -- before the new KB 2975719 will install. Finally, I have no idea if installing the new KB 2975719 without uninstalling the old KB 2975719 (if that's even possible) will get rid of the boorish behavior of the old one.
An explanation from Microsoft would be greatly appreciated.
Ultimately, it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth that Windows customers are being told to manually uninstall patches that Microsoft botched. The uninstall process is complicated. It should be in a FixIt, at worst, or simply built into the KB 2975719 installer.
More to the point: Can you imagine Apple trying to pull off crap like this? Or even Google? If this is the future of full-featured operating systems, we're all in trouble.
This new version may be good. At least, at this point, I haven't heard any cries for help -- possibly because the rollout is so mercifully slow.
There's that word again.
This story, "Microsoft re-releases botched Windows 8.1 Update 2 patch KB 2975719," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.