Over the weekend, Gordon Kelly at Forbes posted an article about Microsoft's botched Windows 10 Nvidia driver patch. Advanced Nvidia customers are furious -- for good reason. Thanks to the magic of Windows 10 forced updates, the good, old Nvidia driver was replaced with a new Microsoft-approved version, and all hell broke loose.
The flaw revolves around Nvidia graphics cards with users taking to Nvidia's forums to report Windows Update is automatically installing new drivers which break multimonitor setups, SLI (dual card) configurations and can even stop PCs booting entirely which pushes Windows 10 into its emergency recovery mode.
The latest driver distributed by Nvidia appears to be version 353.30, which was released on June 22. The driver distributed by Microsoft last Saturday in the forced update is version 353.54.
Several people with extensive knowledge of Windows 10 chimed in to recommend the "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter in KB 3073930. Ed Bott at ZDNet steps through the screens in the troubleshooter. Bott goes on to say:
I would imagine most people who are concerned about the possibility of a defective update will still grumble over this solution, which requires more intervention than current Windows Update options, which allow you to delay, block, and hide updates at will.
Yep, add me to the grumbler's list.
Paul Thurrott, at Thurrott.com, steps through using the KB 3073930 troubleshooter to chase away Silverlight, and keep it off your system. Muhammad Jarir Kanji at Neowin also steps through the troubleshooter.
They all miss several important points. I talked about the problems with the troubleshooter in a post last week. To make sure the problems are still there, I checked again -- this time with an AMD Radeon HD 6450 driver, also pushed to Windows 10 Insiders on Saturday. That driver doesn't have the ill manners of the Nvidia 353.54 driver, but the method for removing it and blocking it is similar.
Here's what you need to know about the KB 3073930 forced update blocker.
- You can't use the blocker until the bad patch or driver is already installed on your machine. If the bad patch takes out your monitor or your keyboard, you're going to have a wonderful time.
- In my experience, if you try to run the blocker -- called wushowhide -- while the bad patch is installed, it won't find the patch you want to hide. I don't know if that's a bug, but I've replicated it on several PCs, with different kinds of patches. Try it yourself and see if it picks up all of the patches and all of the drivers force-installed by Windows 10 on your system. Run the downloaded wushowhide.diagcab and click Hide updates. Compare that with the list in Start > Settings > Update & security > Advanced options > View your update history. If you find differently, please hit me in the comments!
- Wushowhide will find patches and drivers that you've deleted. (In Device Manager, right-click the bad driver and click Uninstall. In the Settings app, choose Update & security > Advanced options > View your update history > Uninstall updates > then click on the bad patch and click or tap Uninstall). But if you reboot after removing the driver/patch and before running wushowhide, the forced update may well take hold and you'll have to uninstall again.
- In at least two cases, I found that adding a patch or driver to the "Hide" list rendered it entirely invisible. I couldn't bring it back, either through wushowhide or through Update & security. That may well be a beta bug.
Kelly's article adds an interesting twist to all of this. He says that Nvidia's companion app, called GeForce Experience, sees the new Windows 10 forced-installed driver 353.54 and wants to downgrade -- presumably to 353.30, which GeForce Experience says is a "newer" driver than the one Windows 10 update installed. He goes on to say:
The problem is compounded by the fact that Windows Update doesn't actually reveal driver version numbers prior to install or warn the user in advance so pinpointing something that has suddenly caused problems can be hard to identify.
That attests to a completely different can of worms: Microsoft's patches and app deltas are barely documented, as I've whined many times before. There are no changelogs. Finding version numbers and date stamps can be tricky. As long as Microsoft does a great job of patching Windows -- and it has, over the past three months, with the exception of these Windows 10 patches -- we can leave it in Microsoft's hands. But the minute something goes kablooey, we'll end up in a situation like the Nvidia 353.54 driver patch.
Bott's article ends with very good advice: Turn on the old Windows 7-style System Restore. That's the No. 1 recommendation in my Windows 10 book (due out soon): Right-click Start > System > on the left choose "System protection" > Configure.
At this point it isn't clear how forced updating will interact with rolling back to a restore point -- the new updater tends to elbow its way into all sorts of things -- but System Restore is your best bet for keeping Microsoft's mitts off.
Patches: Windows 10's Achilles' heel.