Never attribute to Malice that which can be explained as Stupidity

One evening earlier this week, I was enjoying an hour of gaming on my home PC when – without warning – my game screen went a bit bonkers, turned from full-screen to a windowed mode – and then I got presented with a cheerful message from Microsoft to tell me that they were going to update my Windows 10 build… (whether I liked it or not). I immediately selected “disable now and don’t remind me” and thought no more.

The following evening I booted the computer for a different reason but got the same result – my work was interrupted and I got another “get ready” warning. Disabled again.

Until Thursday, when the upgrade “just started”, while I was back playing the game I’d been enjoying previously (Mass Effect Andromeda). Let’s fast-forward through the multiple-reboot update process, which took a significant chunk of time, to get to the bit where things really started to go wrong. In fact, upon the final “We’re finished” reboot, I was left with:-

1. No working audio (from a Creative X-Fi Titanium sound card – hardly a rare item…)
2. A disabled and broken firewall (Checkpoint Zone Alarm)
3. A completely re-configured monitor setup (I have 3 monitors driven by an nVidia 1080GTX graphics card – the upgrade broke the nVidia display-spanning configuration and then changed the Left-Centre-Right orientation of the monitors).
4. A Start / Menu / Task Bar which relocates itself to the top of the screen with each system power on – despite the fact that its own settings have it clearly marked as appearing at the bottom of the screen.

OK, to the fixes:

1. Sound Card… It turns out that the “upgrade” had checked my hardware and decided that – of course – I would want to pipe audio via an HDMI cable to a monitor which has no audio output capability, rather than send it via the perfectly serviceable Toslink optical audio feed to my surround speakers. I once again changed the default audio and once again deleted the 3 Monitors from the option list in the Sound applet of Control Panel. Of course they have since come back, but that’s a problem for another day.

2. Firewall… This proved to be another relatively straightforward [if annoying] fix. In simple terms when I booted under this new edition of Windows 10, I was unable to get ZoneAlarm to work. In the end I manually deleted it and then simply manually re-installed it once more. I now have a working Firewall. Or do I? Take a look at the first of the images below, and you start to see the problem. Windows 10 “Upgrade” thinks that I have no working firewall. ZoneAlarm begs to differ. “Checkpoint One, Microsoft Nil…”

3. Monitor Setup… I honestly don’t know what the blazes happened here, other than a general-purpose Microsoft fsck-up. Although having said that, I’ve noticed that nVidia driver updates have become shambolically awful recently, often doing stupid things. Maybe this was Microsoft, maybe the Windows 10 update included an nVidia driver “update” as part of the process. Either way, the fix required me to break my “virtual desktop” (I had the three monitors configured at the driver level to give the effect – to applications – of a single, 5760×1200 display). Then I simply re-sorted the three monitors so that they appeared Left-Centre-Right in the correct sequence and re-created the virtual desktop.

4. The wandering task bar. No fix identified at this time.

When all this was done, I thought it might be helpful to capture this experience in more detail and send the feedback to Microsoft. So I did. Which brings me to the second screen scrape, below. This is what I saw when I clicked the “send feedback” button.

It isn’t enough for Microsoft to spy on their users. Oh no. Every once in a while they feel the need for a nostalgic trip back to the good old days when running Windows on your computer was nothing short of digital Russian Roulette and “What do you want to do today?” (their logo at the time) was genuinely interpreted to be, “What are we going to fsck up on your computer today? (Can you guess?… Ho ho ho)”

I don’t mind updates.
However, I do object to having those updates forced on me against my wishes.
I strongly object to updates being forced on me when 1) they haven’t been properly tested; and 2) they fsck up my computer in the process.

This computer is a “new build” machine – it didn’t qualify for a “free” upgrade to Windows 10 and the boxed copy I purchased from the Microsoft store cost £200. Two hundred quid for intrusive, nagging, disobedient, buggy spy-ware.