New Windows 11 update fixes a whole lot of things – but breaks some as well

Windows 11 users who are installing the latest update are having some serious issues, from many accounts.

Windows Latest reported that there are bugs in the preview update – so yes, this is an optional update, not something you have to install – that are causing major problems with Windows 11’s interface in one way or another.

For starters, with patch KB5034204, some users are apparently experiencing a glitch where File Explorer – the folders and files on the desktop – is becoming unresponsive. This can lead to the whole desktop going blank (all folders and icons disappearing) for a while, before returning to normal, we’re told. Others are reporting File Explorer crashing while shutting down their PC.

Windows Latest further details reports of icons like the Recycle Bin vanishing, taskbar icons not working, and even the Windows 11 taskbar itself going missing, as complained about on Reddit (plus this is a problem the tech site encountered itself).

The other issue folks seem to be experiencing with KB5034204 is that the update fails to install. There are complaints on Microsoft’s Feedback Hub that the installation process reaches 100%, so looks like it has finished, but then crashes out with a message mentioning missing files. Stop code errors (like ‘0x8007000d’) are also in evidence with these installation mishaps.

Analysis: Out of the frying pan…

Clearly, we need to take into account that this is a preview update, meaning that it’s still officially in testing, and optional patches like this aren’t installed unless you specifically ask for them. As with any pre-release software, you can expect problems, in other words.

Even so, you might want an optional update because it provides a fix for a bug you’re suffering with, and in the case of KB5034204, it resolves a couple of notable issues disrupting video chats and streaming audio (and a misbehaving Start menu, too, plus more besides).

However, in this case, you might swap one problem for another when installing this optional update, and possibly a worse glitch (the wonkiness caused with the Windows 11 interface outlined above seems pretty nasty).

That said, there is a solution (kind of) for the missing taskbar at least, which is to press the Windows key + X – apparently, that sees the bar come back, but its behavior may still be odd going by the various reports around this particular bug.

It’s disappointing to see installation failures popping up again with this preview update, mainly because this was a flaw in evidence with the January cumulative update. It seems that Microsoft hasn’t resolved this yet, then, and the fear is that it might still be present in the February update for Windows 11 (which this preview is an advance version of, as you may realize).

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Windows 11 update breaks Start menu for some customization apps – and Microsoft isn’t going to help this time

Windows 11 again has a problem with third-party customization apps that are used to modify the operating system’s interface, with one of these applications clashing with the latest update for the OS.

That’d be the new preview (optional) update for Windows 11 22H2 (patch KB5028254), which as XDA Developers spotted has broken the Start menu for some users of the customization app ExplorerPatcher (going by reports online).

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because earlier in the year we witnessed issues with ExplorerPatcher (and StartAllBack) causing trouble with File Explorer (and nasty boot loops). This was with the Moment 2 update, in fact, back in March (when that was released in preview).

With this gremlin rearing its head again – albeit causing a different issue – what is Microsoft doing? Well, not a lot it seems. Let’s dive into why.

Analysis: Not our problem

Back in March, when these third-party apps became problematic for Windows 11, Microsoft said it would investigate the matter (as The Register reported at the time) and provide more info. What happened was that the developers of both ExplorerPatcher and StartAllBack released patches for their clients to solve the bug, and that was that. We didn’t hear anything else from Microsoft.

Now that issues have appeared again, it seems Microsoft has got fed up, and is washing its hands of the matter. As advised in a release health status update for Windows 11, Microsoft says: “We recommend uninstalling any third-party UI customization app before installing KB5028254 to prevent this issue. If your Windows device is already experiencing this issue, you might need to contact customer support for the developer of the app you are using.”

The issue is marked as ‘mitigated external’ which basically means it’s up to the developer (an external party) to fix it for their app (as happened in the past), and Microsoft doesn’t want to know.

In short, affected users only have two options: nag the developer for a fix, or uninstall the customization app in question.

Is that a reasonable response from Microsoft? In fairness to the software giant, it has previously noted that some of these apps use “unsupported methods to achieve their customization” and that this can produce weird side-effects. Given that the methods are ‘unsupported,’ Microsoft’s view is that it doesn’t have to take this software into consideration when updating Windows 11 code (especially if this is going to happen repeatedly, which seems to be the case).

We don’t feel that’s unreasonable of Microsoft in all honesty, but still, the response does feel a little cold and ‘not our problem’ in nature.

Note that KB5028254 is an optional update right now, so there’s no need to install it, and the upgrade is still in testing; you can simply steer clear.

However, this will become a mandatory cumulative update for August, and therein lies the problem – ExplorerPatcher users (and possibly those employing other third-party customization apps) could then have a broken Start menu. Hopefully, though, the developer of this app will have implemented a fix by then (because Microsoft certainly won’t, that’s abundantly clear).

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