The new KB 2919355 Windows 8.1 Update causes more problems than it fixes

Early runs of yesterday's patch are not encouraging: not only does it fail to work in many instances, but it also brings up a handful of new errors

With one week to go until Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Update cut-off date blocks new patches on Win 8.1 machines, the latest fix to the KB 2919355 patch doesn't seem to be working well. In fact, it has introduced even more error codes in a painfully pitched-off process. The longest complaint thread on the Microsoft Answers Forum now stands at 88 pages, with no relief in sight.

Yesterday's revised Windows 8.1 Update, KB 2919355, MS14-018, was supposed to fix a bug in the installer that triggers error 80073712 during the installation. Microsoft's change log describes it this way:

Additional payload has been added to address known install failure.

Binaries have not changed.

Looking through the details for KB 2919355 -- which, after three weeks, is now up to Version 18 -- shows that the "additional payload" consists of three versions (ARM, x86, x64) for a program called ClearCompressionFlag.exe. Microsoft has been offering that program as a manual solution to the Windows 8.1 Update installation problem for at least a week, and very few people have reported that it fixes their bad installs.

That miserable record has been borne out by Windows 8.1 customer experiences: I can only find one instance of a person who was having problems with the original Windows 8.1 Update, and who had the install go through to completion with this revised version. The others -- and there are many -- are complaining that the new patch doesn't work any better than the old one. In fact, the new version of KB 2919355 has triggered completely new error codes in several cases.

There's no doubt that Microsoft's tech support is trying hard to fix the problem. The main Windows 8.1 Update thread on Microsoft Answers includes more than a dozen descriptions of people who have been helped by MS tech support staff logging on to their computers. The problem is that nobody seems to have found a solution, and there are lots of people who have complained about installation problems.

Microsoft now has generic procedures posted for those encountering error codes 80073712 (still), 800F0923 (possible driver problem, recommends that you contact Microsoft Support), 800F0922 (not enough free space in the System Reserved partition -- with a possible manual override that requires a third party program), and some generic Windows Update errors. There's no mention of the now-well-known problem when the C:\Users\Default folder (or another system folder) gets moved to a different drive, triggering error 8007002 or 8007003. Nor is there any word about 800F081F, which has long been a problem, or 800F0902, 8007045B, or 80070490 -- all of which have been reported with this new, improved version of KB 2919355.

Kind of makes you wonder how many people had similar installation problems and either didn't know or didn't care to pursue them on the Answers forum. Folks click through on Automatic Update failure warnings all the time. It's going to be interesting next Tuesday when all of those folks don't get any new updates down the Automatic Update chute.

The one fix that seems to work all the time? Wiping out your hard drive, installing Windows 8 from DVD (if you can find one, and you have a Win 8 key), then updating to Windows 8.1 Update via the Windows Store, not through Windows Update.

This story, "The new KB 2919355 Windows 8.1 Update causes more problems than it fixes," was originally published at 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 on Twitter.

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