Microsoft finally exorcises digital poltergeist that messed with desktop icons and stopped some users from getting Windows 11 23H2

Remember that really strange bug where Windows 11 caused havoc with multi-monitor setups, shuffling desktop icons around, or even moving them onto different screens?

Well, the good news is Microsoft has now fixed this (but the not-so-great news is that it isn’t remedied for Windows 10 users, not yet – we’ll come back to that shortly).

Affected Windows 11 PCs were seeing icons being moved about on the desktop, or seemingly randomly shifted to their other monitors in a highly confusing fashion. Rather like the digital equivalent of a poltergeist possessing your system and causing mischief.

The problem was first spotted in Windows 11 back in November 2023, with the root cause being Copilot – and this led to Microsoft putting a block (a so-called compatibility hold) on rolling out the AI assistant to those with multiple monitors attached to their PC. (And furthermore, there was a block on the Windows 11 23H2 upgrade, for those who hadn’t yet migrated to that version – as it introduces Copilot).

However, all that’s now lifted as the issue has been resolved, as Neowin spotted.

Microsoft updated its known issues with Windows 23H2 (in the release health dashboard) to say that: “This issue was resolved on the service-side for Windows 11, version 23H2 and Windows 11, version 22H2 on devices with updates released January 9, 2024 or later. Non-managed consumer Windows devices with no other compatibility hold should now have Copilot for Windows available. The safeguard hold has been removed as of February 7, 2024.”

Analysis: Ghost in the machine

A service-side tweak means that Microsoft has applied the fix on its end, so there’s no actual update or tinkering that needs to happen with your Windows 11 PC. The fix is just there, and the compatibility hold on Windows 11 23H2 is lifted, so those who’ve been stuck without 23H2 or Copilot should now be able to upgrade just fine.

However, Microsoft observes that it may take up to 48 hours for 23H2 to be offered to your computer. Restarting the PC and manually checking for updates may help to prompt Windows to discover the upgrade.

This is true for Windows 11 PCs previously blocked from 23H2, and also Windows 10 users who wanted to upgrade their device to Windows 11 23H2. The twist here, though, is this icon-flinging bug isn’t actually resolved with Windows 10, if you want to stick with the older OS rather than migrate to Windows 11.

If you recall, Windows 10 users were also affected, and blocked from getting Copilot (when it was subsequently rolled out to them). And sadly, that’s still the case, so those with multiple monitors running Windows 10 still won’t get the AI assistant. With the problem solved in Windows 11, though, presumably it won’t be long before it’s also cured for those staying on Windows 10.

Microsoft updated the Windows 10 release health dashboard to note that: “We are working on a resolution for this issue on Windows 10, version 22H2 and will provide an update in an upcoming release.”

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Windows 11 Copilot makes digital mischief with desktop icons, leaving users baffled

A new Windows 11 preview build, KB5031455, that enables the AI-powered assistant, Windows Copilot, is reportedly causing havoc to desktop icons.

Windows 11 Build KB5031455 is one of a series of updates that have come to us via Windows Update and through the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft’s official community for Windows enthusiasts and industry professionals that help try new versions of Windows and features before they’re rolled out to all Windows users. Build KB5031455 was released in October and was packed full of new developments like Windows Copilot. Other feature updates include reworkings of the Start menu, File Explorer, and native system support for more archive file formats

However, it’s not all been smooth sailing, and some users are reporting problems. According to BetaNews, Microsoft has acknowledged that there’s a known problem with the preview build where desktop icons are shuffled around. This apparently happens due to Copilot’s interaction with Windows multi-display setups.

The update is pretty stacked feature-wise, so it’s somewhat expected that there’s an issue here or there for certain users. That said, the affected users will probably be hoping for a fix as soon as possible, especially as most are looking forward to getting to take Copilot for a spin. Also, this is the sort of feedback that these preview builds are for. 

Screenshot of Windows Copilot in use

(Image credit: Microsoft)

What Microsoft has to say about the matter

Microsoft has shared the release notes for the preview build in a Support post detailing the nature of the updates and changes, as well as the known issues in the update. About the above issue, Microsoft writes the following:

“Windows devices using more than one monitor might experience issues with desktop icons moving unexpectedly between monitors or other icon alignment issues when attempting to use Copilot in Windows (in preview).”

It then goes on to explain that there’s no existing workaround or solution, and Microsoft recommends that Windows Copilot isn’t used on devices that are currently using a multi-monitor configuration. It does offer some consolation in that a resolution is currently being developed and will be released in a future update. 

This is a fairly typical response from Microsoft but it does also have a reputation for turning around solutions for such problems, even if it can take a little while. I think we can expect to see one soon, especially as this was picked up after a preview build was released. These are specifically released to test and monitor for feedback, so an opportunity to improve a feature is perfectly normal for a Windows release like this, and Microsoft will be keen to make sure its flashy new Copilot feature works well for as many users as possible – including people who use more than one screen.

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