Last week, Windows Update stopped working properly for many users. The global outage was an odd one, and user investigations soon discovered it appeared to be linked to DNS services. Changing one’s DNS settings to Google’s publicly provided DNS service often restored Windows Update’s functionality. US Comcast and UK BT customers seem to be most affected, though the problem may have hit other customers worldwide as well.
Microsoft has now confirmed that the issue was caused by DNS problems with an external service the company contracts with. Microsoft writes:
The Windows Update service was impacted by a data corruption issue in an external DNS service provider global outage on January 29, 2019. The issue was resolved on the same day and Windows Update is now operating normally, but a few customers have continued to report issues connecting to the Windows Update service. We expect these issues will go away as downstream DNS servers are updated with the corrected Windows Update DNS entries.
Microsoft has not specified which service caused the problem in the first place or why it occurred, but the outages were larger than simply a few customers. Windows Update is also rolling out new Intel drivers to resolve a problem from several months ago that prevented the installation of Windows 10 Update 1809 on systems that used Intel graphics. The baseline driver Intel released supposedly caused problems with Windows by enabling features that weren’t intended to be enabled (Intel disputed this characterization). According to ZDNet, this problem should now be resolved with the drivers being pushed over Windows Update, if you allow WU to install drivers.
Intel has published its own documentation on how to resolve this problem, as well as an instructional video to help users identify whether they’re using an Intel graphics card. Details on that question and how to resolve it can be found here. The appropriate driver to install to allow for Windows 10 1809 capability is here.
Microsoft’s Windows updating schedule and overall process was hammered in 2018 by repeated bugs, failures, and other problems that forced the delay of major OS updates. A DNS problem is a relatively simple issue to fix, but it underscores the fact that the company’s overall product quality and update process simply aren’t where they should be. How much control users have over the update process varies depending on which version of the operating system you run, but ExtremeTech recommends caution whenever you consider updating to the latest version of Windows. At the very least, we recommend waiting when possible to evaluate the impact of new version changes. In the case of zero-day security bugs this may not be prudent, but it’s typically a good idea to wait and see how updates impact the broader community whenever possible.