Win10 Update Facilitation Service joins Update Assistant V2 to make sure you get patched

If you’ve been trying to keep Microsoft’s forced updates and upgrades off your machine, your job just got harder. With KB 4056254, we now have a new Win10 Update Facilitation Service joining its comrade-in-arms Update Assistant V2 to ensure no patch gets blocked.

Open windows with billowy curtains
Thinkstock

You can look at the new KB 4056254 Win10 Update Facilitation Service and the re-emergence of Win10 Update Assistant V2 from two different perspectives. On the one hand, you have those poor hapless Win10 users who accidentally munged Windows Update. On the other hand, you have folks with bazookas and flamethrowers who want to keep some semblance of control over updating their machines.

Both groups now face two different Microsoft initiatives to reset Windows Update.

Susan Bradley was looking at some new KB articles over the weekend and stumbled onto KB 4056254, an announcement for a, uh, service known as the Windows 10 Update Facilitation Service. (If you have a hard time thinking of Win10 as a service, try wrapping your mind around the concept of a forced patching bulldozer as a service.)

We’ve seen KB 4056254 before. Microsoft apparently released it back in January, but it didn’t make much of a splash. I haven’t seen KB 4056254 in action as yet, so all I can relay is the official description, which goes like this:

This update includes a background service to facilitate Windows Update service on devices running Home or Pro editions of Windows 10 Versions 1507, 1511, 1607, and 1703.

This update includes files and resources to address issues affecting background update processes in the Windows Update servicing stack. Maintaining Window Update service health and performance helps ensure that quality updates are installed seamlessly on your device and help to improve the reliability and security of devices running Windows 10.

KB 4056254 isn’t available through the Microsoft Update Catalog, and I haven’t seen it on my test machines, but it sounds thoroughly obnoxious:

Only certain builds of Windows 10 Versions 1507, 1511, 1607, and 1703 require this update. Devices that are running those builds on Home or Pro editions that are not domain joined will automatically get the update downloaded and installed through Windows Update.

You have to wonder, if Windows Update isn’t working, how it’ll be installed through Windows Update. The plot thickens:

Devices not connected to Windows Update may see a User Account Control (UAC) prompt during installation. Click Yes to install.

Which, of course, makes absolutely no sense. If you aren’t connected to Windows Update, how do you get the update — and why would Win10 throw a UAC prompt if you aren’t connected to Windows Update? But never mind. Maybe somebody on the patching team just posted this KB as a troll.

The “Important fix for Windows Update” dialog posted in the KB article (screenshot) hasn’t been seen in the wild yet, as best I can tell, but it says:

important fix for ms update Microsoft

Important fix for Windows Update

Windows Update isn’t working and needs the Windows 10 update facilitation service to make sure operating system updates can install properly.

Select Yes on the next screen to allow it. A restart won’t be required.

The next screen is a typical UAC prompt.

There are so many inconsistencies — “Windows Update isn’t working” but the only way to get KB 4056254 is through Windows Update; “Devices not connected to Windows Update may see a UAC prompt” — that it’s hard to take any of it seriously.

Günter Born on his Borncity blog points out many additional inconsistencies. For example, KB 4056254 only goes out to Home and Pro copies of Win10 1507, 1511, 1607, and 1703 — but most of those are out of support.

An anonymous AskWoody poster says:

KB 4056254 looks like a morphing of March 2018’s KB 4023057 which had unblocked disabled or blocked Windows Update on Win 10

… and, sure enough, if you compare the verbiage from March’s KB 4023057 (and its predecessor, KB 4022868), there are several cut-and-paste similarities. The anonymous poster goes on to say:

Seems, from April to June 2018, some savvy Win 10 users have found new ways to disable or block Windows Update. So, M$ has to come out with KB4056254 to “neutralize” their efforts. It’s like a cat-and-mouse game.

Which seems to me like the core of the matter. It’s not nice to mess with Mother Microsoft’s patching schemes, so you’re going to get a few new services running in the background to whop your system upside the head if you dare to block patches.

How the January release of KB 4056254 compares with the latest release baffles me.

As if that isn’t bad enough, it seems that we’re getting another jolt of our old friend the Win10 Update Assistant V2. ViperJohn reports:

The June 2018 Cumulative KB 4284874 for Win10 v1703… installs the dreaded Windows 10 Update Assistant V2. It installs in the \Windows\UpdateAssistantV2 folder which should be deleted before the horror show in the folder can execute… the sole purpose this delightful piece of MS designed MalWare is to undo and /or reset every single User set or altered Service / PC Setting / Group Policy impediment to a forced version upgrade.

EP confirms that the lovely Update Assistant is also bundled with this month’s cumulative update for version 1607.

I talked about the Update Assistant back in March. It was blamed for one of the three incidents where Microsoft forced Win10 1703 machines to 1709, even if they were set to block updates. It’s possible that the same malfunctioning Assistant upgraded 1709 machines to 1803, even when they were blocked.

Bottom line: If you don’t want to join the unpaid beta-testing force currently working on the “fully available” Win10 version 1803, avoid the new Windows Update Facilitation as a Service (just click “No”), make sure you use the official settings to block forced upgrades and, if you do install this month’s cumulative updates complete with Update Assistant v2 (I don’t recommend it just yet), go back and make sure your settings are intact.

Nag me all you want, Microsoft, but this is getting ridiculous. All I want is an “Off” button — until you figure out how to deliver reliable patches and upgrades.

We’ve got your back on the AskWoody Lounge.

Related:
First look: Office 2019’s likeliest new features
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon