Back on the 13th or 14th of March, Microsoft rolled out a massive update to the Windows 10 OS. Like all Windows 10 updates, it’s invisible: unless you check your network traffic, there’s no evidence it is even being downloaded.
There is a long and painful history of what went wrong here (Microsoft Support Site): the short story is:-
KB4088776 completely trashed two builds.
Build One – Symptoms – “Dead” Monitor
A machine running Windows 10 was left “alone” during a copy of files to external disk for backup purposes. On return only 2 out of 3 monitors were working. All three screens are identical Dell U2415W monitors (running a Dell Driver date-stamped December 17, 2017), connected to the system via DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort, respectively. The “DisplayPort” monitor was dead. When I checked via my nVidia Control Panel software, it reported that one of the three monitors was no longer recognised – the panel looked like this:-
Build One – Fix
Using the Windows Installation USB Key provided when I purchased the Windows 10 License [64-Bit Pro edition] I was able to boot the system as far as the first setup screen, from which I was then able to select “Repair” and this allowed me to “roll back” the KB4088776 update. There had been no other changes to the system in that time.
Conducting the restore didn’t solve the problem 100% – I was still left with only two monitors, but I was now able to go in and reactivate the “de-selected” monitor and get back to my triple-screen setup. Eventually I was left with something that looked like this:-
Build Two – Symptoms
Unfortunately, things got worse, a lot worse, from there. The hardware that I use for gaming includes an amazing little unit from Akasa that slots into a 5.25” drive bay and gives me no less than four 2.5” drive slots. It looks like this:-
Because the drive bays make it easy to replace the drives they contain, I can swap between different Operating Systems in the time it takes me to power down, swap drives and power up again… So I bought a pair of Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit licenses [£200 each – ouch!] and away I went…
On the second drive, I used the same method to boot from the Windows 10 Installer USB stick, but when I attempted to “Repair” the OS, I was told that there was nothing there to be repaired… What? I went back to the now-working “Games” build and booted it, then used an eSata dock to take a look at the C: drive from the “dead” Office build…
What I found was a completely trashed operating system. The update process had left two Windows directories and had also dumped some error files in the “service” partition at the front of the disk. The above-linked series of posts on the Microsoft site provide details. In short, the OS was toast.
Build Two – Fix
Nothing for it: a wipe of both the C: and D: volumes [after making careful note of what had been installed] and a clean build of the OS. For the most part this went smoothly [it took all day] with the exception of the re-installation of Nuance Software’s OmniPage 18.
That refused to go back, claiming I had exceeded my license count… I dropped a line to their support desk and eventually I was granted an extra “activation” to get the job done – after being warned that version 18 was not compatible with Windows 10. I can’t find a more recent version, so: whatever.
I don’t know what Microsoft are doing with Windows 10 – other than completely and utterly screwing it up.