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Windows 10 Bug Affecting People Working From Home

Windows 10 Bug Affecting People Working From Home

It seems like a new Windows security risk or Windows bug is discovered every day. A new Windows 10 bug is preventing Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and other apps from connecting to the Internet. The Windows 10 connectivity bug couldn’t come at a worse time. It has probably brought a lot of inconvenience for the millions of employed individuals worldwide working remotely amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

A majority of these workers are running on Windows 10 PCs and remotely accessing work resources via a virtual private network (VPN) connection. Millions will be relying on Microsoft’s productivity apps such as Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Internet Explorer, and Outlook to do their work.

The bug had the potential to bring serious consequences by draining the productivity of remote workers, depending on how company applications had been set. This bug is affecting all supported Windows 10 that have integrated the February 27 cumulative update KB4535996, or any of the three successive cumulative updates. It also affects Windows Servers versions ranging from version 1909 to 1709.

Issue Details

According to a new post where Microsoft acknowledged their actions when a Windows user is using a manual or auto-configured proxy, they may have issues connecting to the Internet with applications that utilize the WinHTTP or WinInet Windows networking APIs. This bug has a greater chance of affecting VPN users.

In the report, Microsoft stated, “Devices using a manual or auto-configured proxy, especially with a virtual private network (VPN), might show limited or no internet connection status in the Network Connectivity Status Indicator (NCSI) in the notification area. This might happen when connected or disconnected to a VPN or after changing state between the two. Devices with this issue might also have issues reaching the internet using applications that use WinHTTP or WinInet. Examples of apps that might be affected on devices in this state are as follows but not limited to Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Office, Office365, Outlook, Internet Explorer 11, and some version of Microsoft Edge.”

The affected platforms include:

  • Client: Windows 10, version 1909; Windows 10, version 1903; Windows 10, version 1809; Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019; Windows 10, version 1803; Windows 10, version 1709
  • Server: Windows Server, version 1909; Windows Server, version 1903; Windows Server, version 1809; Windows Server 2019; Windows Server, version 1803; Windows Server, version 1709

Bug Reports

Windows 10 KB4535996 has had various critical issues. As per user reports, Windows 10 KB4535996 users were also experiencing the following serious bugs:

  • Slow boot: After pressing the power button, Windows 10 takes a long time to boot to the lock screen and the login time has significantly increased. The Task Manager displays that Windows 10 resources are under normal usage.
  • System freezes and crashes: Apps such as Task Manager, File Explorer or the desktop and taskbar crashes without warning.
  • Blue Screen of Death: Users are reporting that the traditional BSOD error has returned back. On Windows 10, a Blue Screen of Death will happen after a critical error. Generic error messages such as “Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart” are displayed.
  • Reduced performance: In games, some users have noticed FPS drops and audio stutters. I’ve also noticed reduced performance for general activities.
  • Black screen during sign-in and other random times.

If that wasn’t enough, the update was also causing SignTool.exe to crash with generic error messages. In a community post, Microsoft confirmed this known issue and promised that a fix will soon be available.

“We’re aware of issues with signtool.exe after installing the latest optional update for Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1909 (KB4535996). If you are encountering issues or receiving errors related to signtool.exe, you can uninstall the optional update KB4535996,” the company said.

If your PC is still buggy after the update, one can uninstall the patch by doing the following:

  • Go to “Update & Security”
  • Click “View update history”
  • Click the “Uninstall updates” link
  • Select the KB number and uninstall the update.

After you have uninstalled the patch, open the same page again and pause the update for seven days.

Out of Band Windows 10 Patch

An out-of-band patch was released by Microsoft to fix internet connectivity issues brought by Windows 10 devices when connected to VPN.

On their message centre, Microsoft said:

An out-of-band optional update is now available on the Microsoft Update Catalog to address a known issue whereby devices using a proxy, especially those using a virtual private network (VPN), might show limited or no internet connection status.

We recommend you only install this optional update if you are affected by this issue. For more information, see the known issues section for your version of Windows 10 or see the links below.

For instructions on how to install this update for your operating system, see the KB for your OS listed below, all of which were released March 30, 2020: