Another 20 GB Wasted

Another weekend after attempting to update Windows 10 to the latest 1703 update, I again tried updating. The Windows 10 system runs in a virtual machine (VM) using raw disk access.

This time I downloaded the Media Creation Tool. The tool is supposed to download the latest ISO image, reinstall the OS, and update the system. The tool is supposed to preserve user settings and files. I had backups of the system but I was uncomfortable about this option. Windows is the only operating system that I have had to reinstall in order to fix things.

I wanted to avoid any administrative prompts during the process. I logged in with my administrative “root” account. I started the download just before midnight. The dialog box displayed a message that I could continue using my computer during the updates. How pitifully considerate of the Microsoft folks.

I went to bed. I had opened the network monitoring tool before quitting for the night. In the morning I observed there had been 13 GB of download traffic. More amazing was 402 MB of transmission traffic. I have the idiotic file sharing “feature” disabled. I confirmed the option was disabled. What in Hell could have been transmitted? Telemetry data? My previous experience indicated the 1703 updates were about 6.6 GB. Why twice that much?

The Media Creation Tool dialog prompted me to accept the license agreement. I accepted. The tool proceeded to download “updates.” As usual, the spinning balls continued. The dialog ever so slowly showed progress with downloading “updates.” A half hour later I was prompted to reboot.

The system rebooted. Upon logging in I was, again, greeted with a popup notification that the installation “couldn’t finish installing updates.” Again the update history revealed no clues why.

Windows 10 then proceeded to start downloading the 1703 update files.

No, really.

I disconnected the virtual network cable and rebooted the system.

Next I ran the Windows Update Diagnostic. I was informed there was a Windows Update Database Corruption. I was asked if I wanted to delete the files and re-download the updates.

Sure, why not. I restored the virtual network cable.

According to the final dialog, problem fixed.

Next I tried the Windows Update Assistant. A dialog opened informing me that, “One of the best features of Windows 10 is that it keeps getting better with every update.”


The secret is getting the damned thing to update.

I selected the Update Now button.

The dialog informed me that, “This will take a while. You can keep working.” How generous of the Microsoft folks to let me keep using my computer.

I opened the network monitor. Transmitted packets again increased abnormally. At about 2 GB later, the dialog progress indicator still shows 0% complete. At about 5 GB the progress showed 1%. Oh, and about 153 MB transmitted. At about 7.5 GB the progress was 33%.

I got the feeling that Windows 10 was performing a normal update while the Windows Update Assistant was doing the same thing. Curious, I checked the Windows 10 Settings Update status. Sure enough, Windows was downloading the 1703 feature update. That explained the double volume of network traffic I had been seeing. There is no way to stop the normal downloads. I find hard to believe that this kind of bug slipped through any testing.

At about 11.2 GB and 83%, the system stopped downloading. There was no more network traffic. The task manager confirmed as well showing the system was idle. Checking some time later the progress had increased to 86% and the network packets were increasing at a snail’s pace. The Windows 10 Settings Update status was stuck at 96%.

This is something many Windows users have noticed — that the update process seems to hang for a long time for no apparent reason.

After a few hours of this nonsense, I stopped everything and shut down the system. At least I tried. Windows refused to comply. I had to use a hard reset.

Next I downloaded the full 1703 ISO. The web site is Yet Another JavaScript POS. A simple HTML page with links is just too much to expect. Nor can the ISO images be easily downloaded with wget. I prefer downloading ISO images with wget to preserve file date stamps. Firefox does not do that.

The next frustration is finding valid MD5 or SHA check sums to validate the ISO file. Good luck finding those check sums on a Microsoft web site. Are the Microsoft folks so clueless about check sums?

Tired of the continual bandwidth consumption, I tried installing Windows 1703 with the ISO while preserving user settings.

The ISO refused to boot in the VM. I tested the ISO on a different system by creating a typical VM. The ISO booted fine.

Time to use the sledge hammer.

I disconnected the virtual network cable and booted the system. I restored a partition image backup from some weeks ago. Because of the age of the backup image, I repeated some nominal maintenance to restore the system. I used the built-in cleanup tool to delete files. I ran the partition defragger and performed a system backup.

I discovered how to configure feature updates to delay for 180 days. As the 180 day clock has not yet expired on the 1703 updates, hopefully this would prevent Windows 10 from trying to update to 1703 and let me get the system otherwise updated. I added another 60 day delay by selecting the Pause feature updates option. Why not just let user delay for 200 days? Why the extra option?

After restoring everything I performed another partition image backup. At least I was back to my original starting point. I now had a fresh backup image.

I connected the virtual network cable and updated the system. One thing is certain, while Windows 10 is checking for updates the entire system crawls.

Of course, the updates took about two hours to complete. After rebooting and verifying that 1703 was not trying to install, I performed another local backup and partition image backup.

With the system fully updated and quiet, I again tried booting with the Windows 10 1703 ISO. Again the ISO would not boot in the VM.

I ran some PowerShell scripts to remove a lot of the default bloat. I have no need for 3D Build, Zune, CandyCrush, et. al. Why is that kind of useless stuff preinstalled?

For now I have bought some time with avoiding the 1703 feature update.

The challenge with Windows is not that computers are complex machines. They are. The challenge is Windows provides so few options to actually debug a problem. Just useless little progress bars and spinning balls.

I am guessing my inability to update to 1703 is related to something configured that the Microsoft developers have not considered or anticipated, some kind of corner case issue. My guess is something related to running Windows 10 in a VM. Windows is well known for not playing well in a dual boot environment, let alone running from within a VM using raw disk access.

To me Windows 10 is little more than an intellectual curiosity. I hope I never have to use the operating system in a productive manner. Despite the intellectual challenge, I don’t know how much longer I will keep maintaining this system. My curiosity is dwindling fast. There is little to no return on my time investment. Windows 10 does remind me that, despite all the warts and blemishes of free/libre software — and there are many, Windows 10 is far worse.

One way or another this is a truly mind boggling experience.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Windows

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