Microsoft Begins the “Re-release” of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Posted on October 10, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 72 Comments

Microsoft has concluded its investigation into a data deletion bug in the original shipping version of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. And the software giant is now testing a fixed version of that Update with Windows Insiders.

“We will carefully study the results, feedback, and diagnostic data from our Insiders before taking additional steps towards re-releasing more broadly,” Microsoft’s John Cable explains.

And Microsoft certainly has a lot of explaining to do here, now doesn’t it?

Microsoft pulled the Windows 10 October 2018 Update last Friday, just three days after its initial release, because of customer reports of data loss. Given Microsoft’s terrible history with Windows 10 feature updates, this is alarming. And the evidence points conclusively to two problems I’ve raised again and again: Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program is inadequate for testing new Windows versions. And the software giant does not do a good job of triaging the data it collects. Put simply, Microsoft has a software quality problem.

Cable’s description of what happened reads like it was designed to minimize the company’s exposure to potential lawsuits. The problem wasn’t just isolated, he says: Reports of actual data loss were few, just “one one-hundredth of one percent of version 1809 installs.” But “any data loss is serious,” he finally admits.

Cable also claims that the damage was minimized because Microsoft “intentionally starts each feature update rollout slowly, closely monitoring feedback before offering the update more broadly.” But Microsoft actually rushed this release out the door, skipping the normal “Release Preview” phase of testing so that it could arbitrarily release the October 2018 Update last Tuesday, the same day as its media event. (And one week before Patch Tuesday.) It did this because it botched the previous feature update, the April 2018 Update, and almost missed shipping that in April entirely. This release was going to happen much more quickly.

One might argue that it’s good news that Microsoft discovered this problem early—only so-called “seekers” were impacted, after all—and that it’s good news this didn’t happen when the update was in broader release. Stop making lemonade: What this really shows is that Microsoft hasn’t learned its lesson from previous release debacles. And I’ll point out again that the embarrassing April 2018 Update delay at least happened before the public release. This one was actually later in the cycle. Again, it’s a software quality problem.

But what’s most astonishing about this affair is that Microsoft knew about these problems ahead of time.

“Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update our engineering investigation determined that a very small number of users lost files during the update,” Cable admits. He explains how the data loss happened. But not why Microsoft shipped the update in this condition regardless. It’s rather incredible.

Anyway, Microsoft has fixed it. Probably. And they’ll use their known-flawed testing techniques with telemetry from the inept Insider Program to validate that. And then ship it publicly, again.

Finally, if you were impacted by this flaw, Microsoft has established a support channel via phone and its retail stores to help customers set things right. But it sounds like more of a grief counseling channel.

“We cannot guarantee the outcome of any file recovery work,” Cable admits. “If you have manually checked for updates and believe you have an issue with missing files, please minimize your use of the affected device and contact us directly at +1-800-MICROSOFT.”

Good luck with that.

 

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Comments (76)

76 responses to “Microsoft Begins the “Re-release” of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update”

  1. Ron Diaz

    Microsoft could not possibly do more to kill Windows if they tried...

  2. pargon

    Apple and android have reports of bricking phones almost every year with their updates. But they get a pass I'm assuming. The article should be called "Tech Industry has a software quality problem" perhaps. One should always back up data, keep all data on a separate drive. If people seeked this update and got burned, they're boneheads that shouldn't be seeking a brand new feature update. Along with onedrive, I have a fast ssd with basically nothing on it, just adobe photoshop, premiere, a browser and couple games and a raid 10 array for photos, home movies, documents.

  3. lvthunder

    Microsoft isn't at fault if you lost data. You are. You are the one with no backup of your data. Your hard drive could die at any minute. Your computer could be stolen or broken. If you don't have a backup then at some point you will lose data and the only one you have to blame is yourself.

    • will

      In reply to lvthunder:

      True data loss can happen for lots of reasons and people need to take backups seriously.


      However Microsoft is responsible for the software it ships and the feedback system it has in place. The problem here is they knew this before it shipped and the current feedback/insider system is partially at fault.

    • train_wreck

      In reply to lvthunder:

      Nope, wrong. They caused the data loss here.


      It may not be their fault if you don’t have backups, but it absolutely WAS their fault that it was lost in this case.


      This is the truth, no matter how much you wish to believe otherwise.

    • kevinbouwman

      In reply to lvthunder:

      You are sort of right. It is on the user to ensure data is not lost. IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE that the upgrade process deleted user data though. It is inexcusable. I resent even the time lost to restoring the data. It is 2018, installing a software update should be painless...EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I write software, I know how difficult this is, Microsoft needs to slow down with the updates until they can do the updates with zero pain for the user. Period.

    • MacLiam

      In reply to lvthunder:

      I partly agree but mostly don't. I lost some files that I really didn't want to lose, but unlike the experience of others, they weren't from the folders that Microsoft provides for its own software. They were data bases from Quicken, Turbo Tax (the last two years), and Millennia Legacy, a family history program. Not only were my core data bases gone, but so were all of the dozens of data backups from the two years that I have been using this machine. TurboTax files that I imported from the predecessor machine (specifically for 2015 and before) were still intact. The missing files were missing both from my in-machine storage and from OneDrive. At least I have on other semi-retired machines archived files from two years ago, so with time I can rebuild my Quicken and Legacy databases .


      My fault in this lies in trusting OneDrive and second-source file recovery software rather than having a dedicated external backup drive in operation. That won't be a problem in the future.


      I'm over the worst of my anger, but this one experience has cost Microsoft my longtime and sincere trust as a consumer. I don't know if this is an Insider Program problem or something based in the broader corporate culture, but I do know that NO company should ever do anything that would let a disappointed user coin a mock marketing motto like, "Data Destruction as a Service.""

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to lvthunder:

      MSFT is NOT blame-free for deleting file in directories Windows considers replaced by other directories. Users are to blame if they lose their only copy of certain files, but they're not exclusively to blame when those sole copies are lost due to Windows Update.

      Analogy: I'd be partly to blame for leaving valuable articles in sight in my parked car, but the person who breaks into my car and steals those articles is also to blame for me losing them. The distinction here is responsibility for exercising proper caution and care vs responsibility for active wrong-doing intentional or negligent.

  4. rseiler

    Overshadowed somehow was the group policy snafu that deleted entire profiles--repeatedly. This was fixed yesterday with KB4464330, but it was a whopper of a problem for any businesses rolling out early (the policy in question is a fairly frequently-used one).


    "Addresses an issue where an incorrect timing calculation may prematurely delete user profiles on devices subject to the 'Delete user profiles older than a specified number of day' group policy."

    • Boltie

      In reply to rseiler:

      "for any businesses rolling out early"


      Those businesses need new IT staff. If you really care about your systems, you wouldn't update if not necessary. For small staff businesses without an IT department, the owner shouldn't be naive about computers and just assume it should all work correctly installing things willy-nilly. If you use a computer for work, make sure it is setup for that purpose. If you don't know, consult someone who does. I have no sympathy except for home users.

  5. chrisrut

    Paul, you are completely right about the Insider program being off the rails. I labored under the misguided assumption that the program was doing big-data statistical analysis of data automatically collected from me, as an insider. I knew there was a way to submit individual feedback, but it was tortuous. God help you if you reported a bug or made a suggestion in the wrong place... The actual ability to provide real-time feedback about what was going on was effectively zero. So, I didn't bother.

    Hindsight being 20-20, what was needed was a simple messaging system one could pop-up and free-form enter problems, suggestions etc. Then let AI on the receiving end sort out what baskets to put it in.

    Instead all I might have contributed, and that of a thousand others, was lost.

    Had such as system been in place I would certainly have commented about the repeated deletion of the local c:documents folder every time a new version was installed (said folder being continuously recreated by a piece of old legacy software too dumb to do otherwise). As it was, I just kept manually repopulating the folder - assuming MS knew all about it. Which, obviously, they didn't.

    Real tragedies are defined as opportunities lost.

  6. maglezs

    Stop complaining and protect yourself an others... move everything to OneDrive... problem solved.


  7. waethorn

    A public beta test and a chat forum with a quantitative up-vote system don't equate to a professionally-accredited Quality Assurance team.


    The Feedback Hub is the Facebook-of-bug-reporting.

  8. Awhispersecho

    Interesting because my laptop is trying to get me to install a feature update. This is more proof that they need stop the forced update BS and give the choice back to the consumer. It's also the reason they have made changes to Windows home and Pro and now ship Home in their new devices. It's an easy way for them to take the choice away from millions of more users.


    Something noone seems to be talking about is why does MS gain access to your personal docs during an update anyway? Why does the OS have the ability to access and delete any personal files and why do they have the ability to possibly recover them? If MS has that ability, doesn't it make anyone wonder where your personal docs are going that allows MS to recover them at the same time they don't exist on your computer? Do people care at all about personal or private info anymore?


    It's 1 thing to delete apps, programs and things like that because they are part of the OS. But personal documents, there is no reason they should be going anywhere near them. Back up or no back up, not 1 person should lose personal files because they've been deleted by an OS update that shouldn't be accessing them in the 1st place.

  9. Skolvikings

    Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update


    Doesn't the word "re-releasing" mean the investigation happened between the original release and the fix?

  10. jamJAR

    Bring back the BETA testers and leave the insider program for the curious.

  11. epguy40

    hi Paul. check out this article by Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet titled "Microsoft needs to refocus on Windows 10 fundamentals, not just new features"


    www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-needs-to-refocus-on-windows-10-fundamentals-not-just-new-features/

    • epguy40

      In reply to epguy40:


      and these recent ZDNet articles, especially this one from Ed Bott:

      www.zdnet.com/article/opinion-two-windows-10-feature-updates-a-year-is-too-many/

      and by Larry Dignan:

      www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-microsoft-can-fix-its-windows-10-update-issues/

  12. tanvir369

    When we will get update wifi

  13. xsm

    I updated W10 without back up(I have no idea I need that!) - and "my doc" are gone... And for a few days was searching on good software. Recovered with DiskInternals software (Uneraser). They have a discount for software all October. Maybe, for someone that information be helpful. 

    PS Back up! Don't forget about it :)

  14. hrlngrv

    Was the first release in 2018 named the April Update? If so, why did it also carry the 1803 designation? We just accept MSFT is off by one? Except that 1803 was nearly off by two.

    That MSFT knew that some systems could lose files but released the upgrade WITHOUT ANY WARNING, an upgrade which SILENTLY deleted files, speaks of a deranged organization, one much more interested in keeping arbitrary schedules than providing a true service.

    For MSFT to truly take a lesson to heart from this, MSFT needs to face a PUBLIC lawsuit, lose it, and wind up needing to make a significant payout. MSFT seems to need to see that the costs of incompetence clearly exceed the costs of competence before it'd opt for the latter.

  15. train_wreck

    Gotta say, the mental gymnastics being employed by some people to somehow spin this as anything other than an unconscionable gaffe from Microsoft, are astonishing...


    I really hope there is some serious introspection going on in the Windows coding teams.

  16. YouWereWarned

    The blog post I read, explaining the loss of data, blamed users for storing data in other than the "well-known locations". So if you have the audacity to create a directory c:/my stuff, because it is not in the above list, it was simply deleted!

    Where-o-where do they get these programmers? To presume that the customer's directory structure will be identical to any preconceived structure is absurd. To simply delete said directories/data should be a firing offense for the programmer and his manager. Unfortunately, in my experience, identifying and dealing properly with boundary cases is 90% of the work, and they expect somehow that early-adopters will do that for them.

    As the Moron-in-Chief says: "Sad..."

  17. bbold

    Would this data loss still occur if the user was using Windows 10 S or Windows 10 Home in S mode? If not, that may be a reason to use Microsoft's walled-garden approach. If not, then this shows just how useless 10 S, in fact, can be. At any rate, huge issue for Microsoft and of course they will play it off like it's a grandma in Kennebunkport and her alone had data loss, which we know isn't the case. Instead of defending themselves and backpaddling in the public eye (PR disaster) , Microsoft should learn from their mistakes and truly test the next update to Windows with a much more watchful eye, over a longer period of time. And it would help if their many departments communicated frequently (daily) in order to mitigate similar issues from arising. Is this the new Microsoft? Sounds a lot like the old MS.

    BB

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to bbold:

      Would Windows 10 S allow users to use alternatives for Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos rather than store them under %USERPROFILE%? If Windows 10 S provided the option MSFT claims is the cause of this problem, why would you believe Windows 10 S wouldn't share this problem as well? OTOH, if Windows 10 S didn't provide that setting, that'd mean it provided no simplistic, overly hand-holding means of storing user files in other places. Could that cause other problems?

      Anyway, the first step towards being able to learn from mistakes is acknowledging mistakes. Getting MSFT to admit mistakes is like pulling the teeth of a very irritable gorilla.

      Sadly, losing LOTS OF MONEY ideally from very public law suits may be the only way to get MSFT decision makers to consider useful changes.

  18. TroyTruax

    Please tell me the phrase "you're files are right where you left them" appears somewhere in this update.

  19. jsarieh

    Anyone know when the iso’s will be released on MSDN and the Volume License Portal?

  20. waethorn

    "only so-called “seekers” were impacted, after all"


    That's total BS. I didn't even know the update was available until I noticed a few computers in my shop that started downloading it automatically after it was released.

  21. christian.hvid

    To make matters worse, this is not only evidence of a flawed testing process, but also proof that Microsoft does not do code review. From what I gather, this bug was not due to some obscure or rare set of conditions that nobody thought of, but due to some poor developer having a cerebral hemorrhage - as in: "delete this directory but don't check first if it's empty". To be fair, things like these happen, occasionally even to experienced coders. That's why you have code review - there's no way a bug like this would have slipped through if there were more eyeballs involved.

    • wright_is

      In reply to christian.hvid:

      I think that is the problem, if it is the problem I think it is, the moving of the default directories to a new location using an unsupported method, looking at the directory where it originates, it is empty! Just it is linked to a non-empty directory, which gets deleted in a chain reaction.

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/dont-move-your-windows-user-profiles-folder-to-another-drive/

      That is from 2013 and was a known problem with upgrading in Windows 8.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to wright_is:

        I'm not sure if this is a case of using unsupported methods - after all, Microsoft claims that the problem typically occurs if you're using Known Folder Redirection without moving all existing files to the new location (which is a supported use case).


        Regardless, it's still a mystery how anyone could write code to automatically remove a user directory, including all of its contents, without getting a feeling that maybe, just maybe, this could end up badly.


        • wright_is

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          I agree with you. As I said above, it looks like somebody cut corners on the testing of "unusual" scenarios.

        • bassoprofundo

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          Agreed. Everything I see here says this is a supported method even down to the fact that it has a capitalized feature name and acronym.


          It looks like this bit my primary desktop box in that those folders are 100% blank. Luckily, redirecting them to a secondary drive which is also inside of my Onedrive store is one of the things I do while setting up the machine for the first time. In my case, there were some folders there (likely created by software installs during setup), but there was no data. Whew...

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to wright_is:

        People trying to move their entire profile directories to other drives were begging for trouble. However, people who had moved Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos to other drives should have been OK using those directories under %USERPROFILE% still on C:. Are the reports of deleted files only from people who tried moving their ENTIRE profiles to other drives?

  22. Piras

    More of the same from Microsoft. Some people are sleeping over there.

  23. siv

    I was hopeful that this would be a great release from the "adults" at Microsoft as Windows development is now in the Server and Azure teams if I understand it correctly. So if they let this go out, it does cast some doubt over the Server offerings going forward. I always thought that the server team would be mega cautious about releasing anything into the wild that was not fully tested. Yet here we are again.


    i was one of the lucky ones who didn't get affected by this bug on my only remaining Windows box which I use for development work. This does not bode well going forward. I would certainly recommend setting all feature updates back at least 90 days in your settings if you have a version of Windows that supports that (Pro and above) at least then you have time to sit out these blunders before you get it. Also doing a full backup of your profile before allowing any MS updates seems like a good plan!

    • wright_is

      In reply to Siv:

      I updated 12 machines, before the update was pulled and all were OK...

      But it seems that the problem only occurs if you try moving the "private" directories from their default location to another location using an unsupported method. Several reporters and bloggers, including Ed Bott, have been banging on for years that this method of moving files is not supported and can cause problems and people should use the supported method.

      If that really is the case, it isn't a wonder that it wasn't caught or that only very few people were caught out by it. But it does show that Microsoft need to be more thorough in their testing... But where do you stop? If you have explicitly labelled the method used as dangerous and can lead to data loss nearly a decade ago, I would assume that someone cut corners on the testing schedule, because it is an "illegal" configuration.

      That said, it still shows that the Insuder Hub needs to be better organized, throw out feature "nice to haves" and concentrate on real errors that crop up.

      • train_wreck

        In reply to wright_is:

        What do you mean about this method being "not supported"? As far as I can understand, the problem occurred when people used the "Known Folder Redirection" to change the location of the built-in Libraries (Documents, Music, etc.). This is a feature of the OS, and indeed, many bloggers/tech writers recommend doing this in order to move what can be large data folders to a secondary drive. I myself used to do this, before I got into the habit of using my NAS for these things.

  24. red.radar

    I planned for this based on historical precedent from previous feature updates.


    so I took the feature update slider out to 365 days and figured I wait for the bugs to be found.


    Not like there is anything in this update I need to enhance my productivity.


    This QA process is broken. Looks like Microsoft forgot the what the s stands for in windows as a “service” this is very broken

  25. ncn

    “Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update our engineering investigation determined that a very small number of users lost files during the update,”


    Read that again, Paul: it say prior to the re-release, not the original release.

  26. jules_wombat

    What has Dona Sarker said about all this. Isn't she responsible for Windwos Releases and the Insider Programme ?

    It would seem that the days of "Code Complete" and software quality from Microsoft are long over.

  27. danmac

    I was an insider before a previous release broke some storage spaces I had. Fortunately they weren't critical, but it still made me stop opting into the fast ring.


    I think the Insiders isn't a great way to bug test. Most people will just complain about aesthetics, bacause that what they see, not actually take the time to go through all of the features they use with a fine-tooth comb to find actual bugs. The enterprise customers would but at least the one I work for is still on 1709, so that doesn't help.

  28. harmjr

    Loss of data with out any recovery. I dont know how we can be in 2018 and not have solved this issue. This is why I no longer take any updates until after the second patch Tuesday they are released.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to harmjr:

      There is a way to recover. You go to your backups and get your stuff back. A failed software update is the same as a failed hardware device.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to lvthunder:

        . . . A failed software update is the same as a failed hardware device.

        Nope.

        A failed software update which leaves non-OS files as-is would allow booting the PC with System Rescue on a usb drive, and using that to mount the internal drive(s) and copy files onto other drives before reinstalling an OS.

        The only way they'd be equivalent is if the software update intentionally performed destructive operations. That might be OK if there were an explicit warning by the update that there were a risk of data loss combined with some mechanism for seeking the user's acceptance of that risk. Otherwise, there'd be a reasonable expectation that there wouldn't be data loss.

  29. mikemuch

    So, TEN million preview testers for months haven't run into this, with many, many installations during the process. Then 1/100 of a percent of fewer users report this in the first day of availability. I find that suspect. Whenever Microsoft releases a new version, there are always a group wanting to raise fear about big problems, don't upgrade!, for one reason or another. Yes, there have been problems in the past; how could there not with over half a billion computers and multitudes of configurations? For some reason, it makes people feel so good to rail against this company. Do Apple and Google do anywhere near as much user testing before releasing new OS versions?

  30. dave.erwin

    All the more reason why all versions of Windows 10 need more control over the release cycle. They can't continue to insist that it's a "good thing" to force users to a new release AND keep screwing up like this.

  31. Thomas Parkison

    It's still definitely a much deserved black eye on Microsoft's face. This shit should have never happened if they had tested for this but of course because they fired their QA department they didn't catch this. Way to go Microsoft, you suck!

  32. Daekar

    What amazes me is that anybody actually uses the Documents, Pictures, and any of those other special folders. I never have and never will, on any version of Linux or Windows. I certainly wouldn't use an "unsupported method" to move them, either, that's just asking for trouble.

  33. Jacob Klein

    Paul:


    I don't think Microsoft knew about the problem ahead of time. Read the sentence you quoted again. Note it says "Prior to re-releasing", not "releasing". So, it's talking about an investigation that happened before the fixed version was deployed, and likely after the broken version was deployed.


    "Prior to re-releasing the October 2018 Update our engineering investigation determined that a very small number of users lost files during the October 2018 Update."


    So, your sentences "But what’s most astonishing about this affair is that Microsoft knew about these problems ahead of time." and "But [Cable doesn't explain] why Microsoft shipped the update in this condition regardless." don't make sense to me. And yes, I understand that the Feedback Hub items existed, but I don't think they registered as a blip on Microsoft's radar. So they didn't know.

    • Angusmatheson

      In reply to Jacob Klein:

      If the didn’t know, that is more embarrassing. Apparently searching the feedback hub, you can see the reports of user data loss apparently from months ago. I do think a dedicated QA team seems like a good idea. And separating bug reporting and ideas for new features. And a way to say if a bug is minor vs major. Microsoft set up lots of things poorly. In April they had a problem that they detected to late, but it doesn’t look like they changed anything. They knew they had a problem with their bug detection system, because in April it failed to see the BSOD problem. Whether or not they knew about the data deletion problem, Microsoft knew they had a problem detecting rare but serious bugs in new major releases.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Angusmatheson:

        I agree that a dedicated QA team would be better. One of the problems with Insider reporting is the sheer volume of feedback and how to find the important stuff. In hindsight it's easy to imagine what key words MS could have searched for in this particular case, but what about the next bug?

        • Jacob Klein

          In reply to skane2600:

          Feedback Hub has a new input for bug reports, where user indicates how much the bug impacts them, from 1 being trivial to 5 being broken and unusable. It was in the blog post, and exists now if you care to try it. This will theoretically help them find "the next {big} bug".

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Jacob Klein:


      From a previous article on Rhurrot:


      “Some Windows Insiders have reported this issue as early as 3 months ago, as noted by Rafael Rivera on Twitter. If you simply open up Feedback Hub and search for “documents deleted” you will see multiple reports from Insiders where their files were automatically deleted after they installed the update.”


      In other words, don’t trust what MS says. Use other sources.

  34. zorb56

    Uncovering bugs like this is NOT what the insider program should be for. The insider program should be for reviewing UX features and design primarily if not exclusively. I don't have faith in the general public to identify a serious technical issue, report it (as opposed to just assuming it is a 'normal' beta bug like the web cam issues of the Anniversary Update), and communicate it properly with all necessary details that would allow it to get the proper attention from Microsoft. When a change to how something like folder redirection works is made, it should be thoroughly tested internally and the Insider program should be exclusively used as a backup to find out if the overarching feature is better or worse. I would assume this is already how it works, but with the language in that blog post, I have my doubts.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to zorb56:

      Perhaps more to the point, uncovering bugs like this isn't something most Insider participants know how to do. How many provide system configuration information with their reports? Does the Feedback app provide any command buttons for uploading HKCU and HKLM registry hives?

  35. mejason83

    Does anyone know how to get rid of the damn banner in settings?? Ugggh!

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