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Microsoft has pulled a February Windows 10 security update, the latest in a string of problematic patches that has experts calling for better quality assurance.
The company removed the security update, first released February 11, after it caused the failure of the "reset this PC" or "Push Button Reset" feature, an OS recovery tool. Microsoft did not state which devices were affected and, on its support page, said the update will not be re-offered.
The security update was intended to address a vulnerability with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) enabled computers. UEFI is an alternative to BIOS, meant to connect a computer's hardware to its operating system.
Microsoft has a history of Windows 10 update issues; previous updates have caused the deletion of data and device freezing. More recently, an update intended only for Windows Autopilot-configured computers was released to the general public -- although that error did not cause any damage.
Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt said businesses have expressed uncertainty about the effects of Windows 10 updates, largely with the way the updates are delivered.
"This rightly gives them some anxiety, particularly if the updates are causing … issues," he said.
Given this most recent incident, Hewitt said, companies may give serious consideration to delaying and testing updates before rolling them out broadly to their employees' computers.
QA is suffering
William Warren, owner of IT service company Emmanuel Technology Consulting, which is based in Brunswick, Maryland, said the nature of the latest update issue was rather surprising.
"The files they are deleting are supposedly undeletable," he said. "If you go into Windows Explorer or the command line and try to delete those files, Windows won't let you -- except Microsoft decided, 'We're going to delete the files for you.'"
After early problems with Windows 10 updates, Warren said, it had appeared Microsoft had ironed out its issues.
"They've been better, and then they do this," he said. "I'm like, 'All right, enough of this garbage.'"
Warren said he intended to stay behind on Windows updates, only installing them once they had proved stable for a reasonable length of time. The problem, he said, was spurred by a lack of quality assurance staff: Microsoft is putting the onus of testing on its users through its Windows Insider early access program.
"If you decide to become an insider, basically you're getting the alpha code," he said. "The beta code goes out to the rest of us. There is no more QA at Microsoft."
"They have no reason to change it," he added. "They're making money hand over fist -- why would they?"
Holger MuellerVice president and principal analyst, Constellation Research
Warren said that attitude is prevalent for software development in general: Companies will release a product and then fix the problems as they arise. That leads to its own issues, he said, especially when a fix resurfaces an old bug.
Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said Microsoft's approach to updating Windows 10 has been flawed.
"[Their] Windows update policy has been confusing, and quality is trending down," he said. "It's unfortunate that enterprise customers are wondering what the support and maintenance strategy is."
Mueller said he believes Microsoft's Windows division has been rudderless since the departure of Windows department head Terry Myerson in 2018.
"You cannot leave an $800-million-plus product franchise without a clear leader," he said. "Cracks will show up over time … and they are."