Microsoft has been forced to block the Windows 10 May 2019 update from its own hardware, due to incompatibilities with the GPUs used in its Surface Book 2. It’s the latest self-own from a company that promised its new methods of rolling out updates and patches would result in more consumer trust and fewer issues four years ago. So far, those promises have not materialized.
Microsoft’s methods of testing Windows 10 have been broken for years. After Satya Nadella took over as CEO, Microsoft made QA changes that left programmers in charge of fixing their own bugs and turned Windows 10 users into voluntary beta testers via the Windows Insider program. Unfortunately, members of the Windows Insider program rarely use the OS as a daily driver (and Microsoft does not recommend doing so). This has been the explanation for how certain flaws have shipped on an ongoing basis.
Microsoft has repeatedly shipped updates with significant problems, though the number of people hit by said problems has varied. We’ve seen the company push major updates that deleted decades worth of customer files, caused blue screens when certain USB devices were plugged in, and broke various other critical system components, including third-party antivirus utilities, System Restore, Windows Media Player, and file associations. The Windows 10 May 2019 update is already blocked on PCs that use USB storage and SD cards. Microsoft has made much of the fact that its overall incidence rate has declined over time, but has not addressed user concerns about the severity of some of the bugs it has introduced.
In this case, as PCMag reports via ZDNet, a bug in the Windows 10 2019 update causes the secondary Nvidia GPU on the Surface Book 2 to vanish. Since the main reason to buy a Surface Book 2 is for the unique design that allows for an Nvidia discrete GPU in a thin portable with a detachable option, this is a major flaw. It is not clear why this flaw solely affects the Surface Book 2 but not the Surface Book. It appears to have been discovered as Microsoft gears up to push the May 2019 update out to larger numbers of customers, due to the large number of people still using the April 1803 update, which officially leaves support in November of this year.
As a side note: Microsoft has also identified an issue with 1903 that causes gamma ramps, color profiles, and night light settings to stop working. I’m fairly certain this explains the distinct purple tint that’s been popping up on testbeds in between driver swaps and occasionally in the middle of reboots. We didn’t mention this in the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme 8GB review or the 5700 / 5700 XT review, but I’ve talked about it with several other publications and they’ve been seeing oddities around driver updates as well. If you do happen to run into this weird purple-tint issue, it can sometimes be solved by rebooting or by reinstalling a display driver. In one case, setting a specific color profile for the monitor I was using also worked. It causes the Windows 10 blue screen that pops up when you Ctrl-Alt-Delete to be a distinct shade of purple but does not harm performance (it does, however, wreck screen colors and is generally off-putting to look at).