I've got some good news for tech enthusiasts who are beta-testing Windows 10 through the Windows Technical Preview: Microsoft intends to fix the incredibly buggy and unstable third milestone release of Windows 10—build 9879—with a "bugcheck hotfix." And this fix will be included in the version of the build that "slow ring" testers will get soon.
If you've been following the drama around this build, you know this fix is desperately needed, and you were likely wondering how or if Microsoft would try to fix it (short of just waiting for the next full build, which isn't expected until early 2015. So this is good news.
If you're not completely up on what's happening, here's a quick breakdown:
Since early October, Microsoft has released three public prerelease builds of Windows 10 through the Windows Technical Preview. The first two of these builds were very stable and reliable, but the third has been a disaster. This is to be expected during a beta, to be sure. But the problems in this third build, 9879, are so bad that I need to reboot my PC a couple of times a day. (In fact, I purposefully crashed and restarted Windows Explorer while writing this very article in order to avoid restarting so I could finish; File Explorer had stopped working.
I wrote about the issues with this build in Windows Technical Preview Install Guide: Clean Install and Windows Technical Preview Build 9879: The Morning After. And of course this build is also somewhat infamous for being the one in which Microsoft introduced a sweeping setback in OneDrive functionality. Generally speaking, that issue has nothing to do with reliability and stability issues in build 9879, but if you enjoy drama be sure to check out Here's What's Really Happening to OneDrive in Windows 10 and The Dark Side of Tech Enthusiasm.
You may recall that with the second of the three Windows 10 pre-release builds we've seen so far, build 9860, Microsoft introduced the concept of "product rings," where users were automatically placed in a "slow ring" unless they opted into a "fast ring" in which they would get updates more quickly. So when build 9879 was released last week, it was actually just released to those who opted into the fast ring. This differentiation is tied to how Microsoft intends to fix this build.
First, for those in the fast ring, Microsoft plans to issue a "bugcheck hotfix," according to Gabe Aul, who's tasked with keeping users up-to-date on Twitter. Since few Windows Technical Preview users are even aware of this kind of update—seriously, Microsoft, this should be right in the product, or sent out via email—I will relate the information here.
"Thank you Fast ring participants - the crash data from your experiences helped us identify the issue so we could fix it for Slow ring," he tweeted.
He then added: "We're almost ready to push [build] 9879 out to the [Windows Technical Preview] Slow ring, but are waiting to publish a bugcheck hotfix concurrently. Soon."
If I'm reading that correctly, that means that slow ring users will in fact simply get the same build that fast ring users got last week. But that a hotfix will be released—presumably to Windows Update—so that anyone with this build can update it and fix the issues. I'm eager to see whether this really does fix the problems I have, since I'm hovering on the edge of wiping out my Windows Technical Preview-based PCs at the moment. But suffice to say, anyone who installs build 9879 will want to check Windows Update repeatedly after the install until there are no more updates to install.
I'll report back when this fix becomes available.