Microsoft's February Windows 11 security update unravels at 96% for some users

Was your Patch Tuesday followed by a Rollback Wednesday? You're not alone

Microsoft says that February 13's security update for Windows 11 might "face installation issues."

Installation may get as far as 96 percent, but for some unlucky Windows 11 customers a message is then shown: "Something didn't go as planned. No need to worry – undoing changes. Please keep your computer on."

Complaints about installation problems have rumbled since patch KB5034765 was released, and last night Microsoft finally admitted via its Windows Release Health dashboard that there is a problem.

Windows 11 23H2 and 22H2 are affected, though Microsoft has yet to detail precisely what might have gone wrong. The current workaround is to delete the hidden folder C:\$WinREAgent, possibly restart, and then try the update again. According to Microsoft: "After following these steps, installing the February 2024 security update should succeed."

Microsoft has promised a fix that won't involve hacking around with hidden folders. "We are working on a resolution for this issue and will provide an update in an upcoming release."

While Windows 10 users are unaffected, Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) issues are becoming depressingly familiar. In January 2024, Microsoft emitted a patch for Windows 10 users which required some to tweak partitions via the command prompt in order to stave off a Windows Update failure.

In this latest instance we can only speculate that there might be something lurking within that C:\$WinREAgent folder which is causing the Windows 11 updater to choke.

KB5034765 is an important update for Windows 11 and, as well as fixes for Copilot, it addresses a number of security issues. Fixes included one for CVE-2024-21412, whereby a malicious shortcut file could kick off an attack on a vulnerable Windows machine without security checks.

At the time of writing, Microsoft's support forum says it is "not currently aware of any issues with this update." However, the corp's release health dashboard tells a very different story as far as installing it is concerned, with instructions for deleting a hidden folder to allow the installation to proceed. ®

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