On Dec. 29, while many of you were off for the holidays, Microsoft released yet another Flash patch, KB 3132372, which covers IE and Edge in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. The Win 10 version has been having problems.
Microsoft notes in the KB article that:
We are aware of limited application crashes that occur after this security update is installed on Windows 10. Microsoft is researching this problem with Adobe and will post more information in this article when the information becomes available.
That was a week ago. As of Jan. 4, there's been no additional information or update, and the patch hasn't been pulled. There has, however, been a loud scream of pain among Windows 10 users who have the misfortune to still be glued to Adobe Flash -- or Skype. Here are some of the reports I've seen:
- Skype crashed on startup with an Exception code: 0x80000003. It looks like the folks at Skype weren't able to get Microsoft to fix KB 3132372, so they disabled the part of Skype that accesses the Flash player. Microsoft owns Skype. That should tell you something.
- The HP Solution Center won't launch. Win10 customers with HP printers manufactured prior to 2011 (including many popular Scanjet and Officejet printers) won't be able to scan with their PCs. You may want to install the HP Scan and Capture app for Windows 10, available from the Windows Store. Or you may want to uninstall KB 3132372.
- The Incredimail program won't start. It throws an "Exception: BREAKPOINT (80000003)."
- Serif's Webplus won't start, and DrawPlus X4 crashes in some circumstances. The support people at Serif have come up with a couple of workarounds that involve adjusting settings inside Webplus. The official post also raises the possibility that this problem exists in Windows 8.1, 8, and 7 with IE10 and IE11 -- but I haven't seen any corroboration at this point.
- GameMaker fails to start, with "External exception 80000003," although disconnecting from the Internet during GameMaker's boot seems to work, at least in some cases, as does disabling Startup news from File > Preferences. Lots of games got the shaft, including First Assault.
Microsoft really doesn't want you to uninstall the patch -- for good reason. As one of an ongoing string of Flash patches, KB 3132372 shores up holes in the Flash Player, which is integrated into IE10, IE11, and Edge. Those holes generally become well-known at some point after the patch is released and occasionally well-documented. Uninstalling the patch leaves your PC vulnerable to those Flash problems.
You may find hope by disabling Flash in your favorite browser and not using any browsers that allow Flash to run. (In Edge, click the ellipses in the upper-right corner, choose Settings > View Advanced Settings. Turn the Use Adobe Flash Player slider Off.) That won't completely protect you from Flash, but it's a good start.
At this point there are workarounds for the HP Solution Center, Webplus, and GameMaker issues. Skype has already thrown in the towel, so the bad patch won't keep you from Skyping.
If you want to buck Microsoft's specific instructions and uninstall the patch, here's how to do it in Windows 10 (which, as noted, appears to be the only version of Windows affected):
Step 1: Go to KB 307930 and download the wushowhide utility. (I talked about wushowhide last July.) Save the wushowhide.diagcab file someplace worthwhile -- you'll probably want to use it again, but don't run it yet.
Step 2: Click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options > View your update history > Uninstall updates.
Step 3: Scroll down to the Windows updates, click on KB 3132372. At the top, click Uninstall. That'll get rid of the bad patch.
Step 4: This is a bit strange, but I found that I had to wait a few minutes before proceeding. Some people recommend that you reboot, but in my experience simply waiting for the patch to get flagged as uninstalled is sufficient.
Step 5: Double-click on wushowhide.diagcab. You will see a Hide Updates list like the one in the screenshot.
Step 6: Check the box next to this botched patch -- KB 3132372 -- and click Next. Click Next again, you'll see an odd notification message (this is, after all, a "troubleshooter") -- then you're done.
It's important to understand that this doesn't permanently hide the patch. It'll only be hidden until Microsoft issues an update for the patch, at which point Windows Update will automatically install the update.
The next version of Flash Player is available for immediate download. In today's release we've updated Flash Player ActiveX for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 with a critical functional bug fix. We recommend all users update to the latest version.
The release notes go on to say:
January 1, 2016 - In today's release, we've updated Flash Player ActiveX for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. This release addresses a problem with Flash Player improperly loading in applications that have it embedded. We are working with Microsoft to provide this update to Windows 8 and Windows 10 users as soon as possible. Customers using Google Chrome or Windows 8.x/10 Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge will receive the update through the Google and Microsoft update mechanisms.
It's customary for me to finish any discussion of Flash with a plea to get rid of the damn thing. Consider yourself re-plead.