Lately, some users have been watching their PCs update to the latest version of the Windows 10 operating system with their fingers crossed.
On Sept. 29, Microsoft released a cumulative update for Windows 10 Anniversary edition (KB3194496, bringing the OS up to build number 14393.222) that promised to fix a long list of issues and improve the performance of several of the operating system's components. Users could expect better Hyper-V performance and more reliable VPN connections, among many other improvements.
That is, if they could ever get the update to stick.
A trickle of reports from Windows Insiders, members of the company's early-access and feedback program for Windows, indicating a problem began to appear on the company's forums just before Sept. 29. After the update started wending its way to the general public, this forum thread exploded with complains that their Windows 10 machines were stuck in a perpetual update loop.
Many users reported that the update would appear to complete, only to display an error at the end. Attempts to restart their PCs would often result in additional error messages or endless reboot cycles.
As a workaround, Microsoft suggested that users visit the Windows 10 upgrade page; download the media creation tool; and select the "Upgrade This PC Now" option while choosing to "keep everything," which keeps user files, settings and applications intact. Another, more involved option involved tinkering with the registry.
After the forum thread ballooned to 30 pages, Microsoft acknowledged the problem.
"We've been working diligently on this issue and are finalizing a clean-up script that will fix the underlying issue preventing the install of KB3194496 (Cumulative Update 14393.222) for affected users," wrote a Microsoft forum moderator. "Your patience during our research and subsequent work is greatly appreciated."
The issue is not widespread, according to Microsoft. The company is "aware of an issue with the recent Windows 10 cumulative update that impacted a small number of customers in the Windows Insider Program that were running a previous build of the OS," a spokesperson said in an email to eWEEK. "We expect to have a solution in place for these customers soon, and will be communicating with Insiders via the Feedback Hub."
It's not the first time Windows 10 updates have caused problems for users.
Just after the Aug. 2 release of the hotly anticipated Anniversary Update, many users reported being frozen out of their PCs. According to Microsoft, the problem appeared to affect mainly those users who installed the OS on a solid-state drive and kept their apps and data on a separate drive. Until a fix was issued on Aug. 31, users could get around the issue by rolling back to a previous version of Windows 10 or logging in to the operating system's feature-light Safe Mode.
The Anniversary Update also knocked out the webcams of potentially millions of users due to a change in how the OS handles MJPEG and H.264 streams. Microsoft had been testing the tweaks since January but conceded to dropping the ball on the documentation front, catching the community by surprise.
Other operating systems have had their own update problems. In fact, some iPhone and iPad users got a taste of the problems a buggy update can cause recently. Soon after the iOS 10 rollout began on Sept. 13, some devices were "bricked," or rendered inoperative, after users attempting an over-the-air update. Apple quickly resolved the issue and recommended that those affected "connect to iTunes to complete the update" or use AppleCare's support services.