On Dec. 2, Microsoft released a Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9879 patch to cure a problem that caused Explorer.exe to crash. Within minutes, reports sprang up about the installer throwing error 80070005 and sometimes simply failing to install, with no notification whatsoever. Two weeks later, it looks like the problem -- said to affect 12 percent of all build 9879 users -- has been put to rest with a new patch, KB 3025096.
The day after the buggy patch rolled out the Automatic Update chute -- Windows 10 Technical Preview testers are all hard-wired into Automatic Update -- poster Kazuhiro Matsuda, writing on the Microsoft Answers forum, presented a lengthy workaround that involved uninstalling several different patches, then re-installing.
The next day, Dec. 4, Windows spokesman Gabe Aul posted a much simpler workaround in the Answers forum and tweeted about it from his definitive Win10 account, @GabeAul.
The problem, as I noted later, is that the Knowledge Base article -- where Microsoft normally publishes "known issues" about bad patches -- wasn't changed. Windows 10 Technical Preview testers who follow Aul's Twitter account got the word about the bad patch. Folks who looked in the right thread on Microsoft Answers got the word. But people looking for notification in all the right places -- specifically, the KB article -- hadn't a clue there was a problem with the patch, much less a workaround.
Yesterday Microsoft finally rolled out a fix for the problem, KB 3025096. Chances are good that if you have Windows 10 Technical Preview installed, the patch applied itself automatically overnight. The description of KB 3025096 looks fine: "Windows Update does not install files if compression is enabled in Windows 10 Technical Preview," which echoes an earlier Answers Forum discussion by Bharatheesh Bhat.
As a bonus, last night Microsoft finally updated the original KB 3020114 article with a very simple "Known issue":
This update may not install on computers that have system compression enabled. To resolve this problem, install update 3025096.
That's all it takes to finally close the circle.
As I explained earlier, it doesn't bother me that there was a bug in KB 3020114 or that Microsoft continued to distributed KB 3020114 after learning about the bug. Those are the beta blues, and we've all played that tune many times before.
What bothers me is that Microsoft didn't use the established method for communicating about the bug in the original patch.
While Microsoft's intently focused on churning out bits, it should also be working on improving support. With all the patching problems we've had lately, there's more than a little room for improvement.