Why is Windows update so broken?


There are news reports of couple of Windows updates that would trigger BSOD.


If I recall correctly in some 1709 machines WU would absolutely fail to update without separate patch. (kb4054517 was one that failed for many, I think)

I had errors in 1909 that would prevent both WU and MS Store from updating (and downloading new apps from the store).

How can service as important as WU be so bloody broken?

Yes, we need Sun Valley to get some sense of cohesion in UI and UX, and of course it is done by different team but MS needs some serious bug crushing to do and they need to be very liberal with bug spray.

Comments (13)

13 responses to “Why is Windows update so broken?”

  1. youwerewarned

    Not having any significant issues with WU, I'd instead ask how something as infinitely complex as Windows manages to function at all? If you'd had the misfortune to live through W3.x, W95 et al in any support capacity you'd realize we've come a long, long way.

    • wright_is

      In reply to YouWereWarned:

      Windows ME was the worst. Naming it after Yuppy Flu probably wasn't a good idea in the first place... I guess, at least they were honest.

    • dftf

      In reply to YouWereWarned:

      Nope, no issues here either.

      Plus, when you do have issues, updates can usually always be installed (with some exceptions, like the update that removes the built-in Flash Player).

      And you always have the option to turn System Restore on and create a point before the updates...

  2. longhorn

    I think Windows Update has always been broken. I don't mean bad updates. I mean it doesn't seem that Windows is built with packages. More like an OS with patch after patch after patch...

    Maybe it doesn't matter that much to the end user, but for Microsoft it must be very complex.

  3. angusmatheson

    Ok. For me, the pain of Windows updates is less dramatic. Yes, you certainly do get the cataclysmic BSOD or horrific bugs with updates. But for me the more mundane annoying of when you turn on your computer windows looking for updates and downloading them while you are trying to working bringing the system to a crawling . Or Windows forcing an update when you turn on your computer or even worse forces an update while you are working. The Linux distros and OS X never seem to do this. I think I turn on the setting where Windows shouldn’t do an update during active hours, but it never seems to fix the problem. Maybe window X will fix the update problems...not holding my breath.

  4. ghostrider

    It's partly because of Windows 10's 'as a service' delivery method. MS know they're shipping code with large bugs, but have always thought they could fix it as they go. It just hasn't worked though. Patch after patch, with multiple different versions in the wild and every combination of hardware you can think of. When Windows used to be fully regression tested, it generally shipped quite stable, but now it's just a mess. When MS committed to two major updates a year, when everyone else considered one update a stretch, they were laying the foundations for a fragmented, broken system, and they're still dealing with that now.

    • illuminated

      In reply to ghostrider:

      There is nothing special about windows 10. Same thing was with windows 7. It is just an old version now that achieved sainthood after death.

      Microsoft has couple problems.

      A. Their fundamental OS updates are mixed with irrelevant utility updates.

      B. They are still stuck on low-level C++ even when they do not have to and thus spend 10x more time developing with more bugs than necessary.

  5. drb1979

    Not a dev however based on the link, what gets me is an update to .NET can cause a BSOD?

    Surely the kernel should protect against user mode applications causing issues?

    Do they "patch" a certain piece of kernal code to stop this particular BSOD? Or is there a more fundamental issue with the kernel allowing this to happen?

  6. ringofvoid

    You should try patch management for fleets of Windows Servers using WSUS. You can have 1000 virtual machines initially built from the same image (AKA identical hardware & drivers). Next month updates fail on some but not all, then next month on more. Microsoft's advice is always the same: Rebuild the server.

  7. rob_segal

    Windows is huge and is decades old. Updating something like that every 6 months will be very challenging. MacOS updates are shipped with bugs, too. Maybe not ones this intrusive or bad, but they're there.

  8. scoop

    Yes, just went through this, with the "we could not complete updates; undoing changes" loop in re cumulative updates. I tried every fix listed online, nothing worked so I re-installed Win 10. Kinda frustrating---but to be fair that was the first problem with Windows Update I had in several years. How many lines of code are in Windows these days?

  9. Lauren Glenn

    To be honest, it's still the same broken thing it has been since at least Win7. I still remember at work having to go into PCs and clear out the Software Distribution folder and DataStore folders just so it will start receiving and downloading updates again. Seems you have to do this every so often in Win10 too.

    One thing about Win10 is that they took away the option to set updates to install on a set day of the week. So with work, they have to install a program to control when updates are pushed down/approved so that machines don't surprisingly update themselves in the middle of the night inconsistently. Like one night, you'll have 2 of your 7 app servers just reset themselves on a Sunday and then 2 others restart on Thursday... and you wish you could easily from the GUI set the updates to install every 2nd Tuesday of the month.