Microsoft just can’t catch a break with this month’s security updates. As we reported a little over a week ago, some of the patches were causing blue screens and other problems – to such an extent that Microsoft was recommending to customers that they uninstall the problematic updates.
In an effort to rectify the problems, the company replaced one of the updates that was released on Patch Tuesday (KB2982791) with a brand new one (KB2993651). Last Friday, Microsoft removed four patches (KB 2982791, KB 2970228, KB 2975719, and KB 2975331) from Windows Update, all of which had been reported to cause varying degrees of problems on both Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 systems.
With all this going on, many others are reporting that they installed this month’s updates with no problems. We have approximately fifteen machines here that were patched without incident. It appears at least some of the troubles are triggered by a situation with OpenTypes fonts and is only occurring with a small overage percentage of machines.
According to Kurt Phillips with Microsoft (who posted in the Microsoft Answers forum), it’s only about 1 in 10,000 computers are encountering the blue screen crashes. The problem is that when it does happen, the impact is so severe that it renders the computer virtually unusable until it’s fixed. You’ll recall we also reported earlier that a workaround for the blue screen problem was discovered and published by a community member.
Security Bulletin MS14-045 was revised and re-published yesterday (Wednesday). This is for the patch that addresses a vulnerability in kernel-mode drivers that could allow elevation of privilege. The bulletin “strongly recommends” that you uninstall the KB2982791 update before you apply the new KB2993651, although it also says customers “don’t need to” do this – which seems a bit confusing.
Microsoft also says that even if you have installed KB2982791 and you aren’t having any problems with it, you should still go through the process of uninstalling it and installing the new update. This is going to make a lot of IT admins – and individual computer users – pretty unhappy. I’m guessing that many will ignore the “strong recommendation” and go ahead and install the new patch without uninstalling the old one. We’ll have to wait and see whether that results in new problems.
Meanwhile, we’ve already heard a few reports in the Microsoft Community forum that some Windows 8 computers are experiencing problems with the new update as well. And KB2993651 also discusses some “known issues” with the current update, pertaining to problems with fonts that are not in the default font directory and “invisible” windows or windows that display incorrectly. While the first problem might not be major (a “file in use” message occurs when you attempt to change or delete such font files), the second could severely impact users’ ability to get their work done. The KB article states that Microsoft is “currently working on a resolution for this issue” but I predict there are going to be some unhappy campers until said solution is found.
If you’re one of the small but significant number of users whose computer crashed due to the Patch Tuesday updates, the fixes – imperfect as they are – will be welcomed. If you’re not, you’re probably going to be a bit irritated at having to “fix what’s not broken” and possibly risk brand new problems. I think there’s probably one thing both computer users and Microsoft can agree on: the wish that this whole patch debacle was behind us.