This week’s “Preview” patches led to some bizarre, unexplained, and self-contradictory behavior. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together, based on what actually happened – not on what Microsoft says is supposed to happen.

Two general sets of “Preview” patches arrived on Tuesday:

  • Optional, non-security, C/D Week Cumulative Updates for Win10 versions 1809, 1903, 1909, and various Servers, but not Win10 version 2004. Microsoft stopped distributing the C/D Week patches in March because of the “public health situation,” but started pushing them again this week.
  • July 21, 2020 Cumulative Update Previews for .NET Framework 3.5 and 4.8 on various versions of Win10. These are optional, non-security Preview patches released later in the month. Microsoft pushes Previews for .NET patches on Win10 infrequently; this year we’ve only seen two, one of them in January, the other in February.

They’re Previews, which means the fixes on offer are still in testing. Normal users shouldn’t go anywhere near them. 

In the past, the Preview patches (for both Win10 and .NET) have appeared as a jumbled mess in the Win10 updating scheme, leading to a universal cry to avoid clicking “Check for updates.”  Not long ago, doing so gave Microsoft carte blanche to install anything and everything in the update queue, including any of these “Preview” test patches lying around. 

Starting with Win10 version 1903, though, Microsoft changed its wayward ways by adding an important new feature that allows you to Pause Updates. At about the same time, Microsoft implemented (but didn’t bother to document) the Download and install prompt that we now take for granted. The prompt forces you to approve an optional update before it’s installed.

Microsoft showed off a version of that option in an article last week (see screenshot).

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