Fall Creator, a.k.a. Windows 10 v 1709

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
In May 2017, the WannaCry virus locked hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Windows computers, displaying a ransom demand payable in Bitcoin. Total damages were hundreds of millions of dollars. The government of North Korea seems the prime suspect of security experts, with some blaming US intelligence agencies’ negligence as a secondary cause.

In the autumn of 2017, Microsoft began distributing the “Fall Creator” Windows 10 update, also known as version 1709.

One day in December 2017, on our machine LILY, Windows Update invited me to install updates and shut down. We use 10-year-old LILY to watch Netflix and Amazon movies and Reuters.tv. I clicked the button. I went to bed. On restarting LILY, it ran 1709 normally. LILY continues to run normally.

On or about January 15, 2018, Windows update, running on 3-year-old ORVILLE, asked me did I want to install a new update "tonight" or "now". I use ORVILLE for writing and for big spreadsheets of analytical stuff. ORVILLE’s Nvidia GeForce GT 730 video card provides 4K HD signal to a Sharp TV via HDMI.

I chose to update "now", after which ORVILLE displayed patterns of colored lines even after many reboots. About 2 hours later, after swapping out the HDMI cable (unnecessarily), and installing new Nvidia drivers by using user interface on still-functioning regular HD channel, and rebooting a few times, ORVILLE worked fine in 4K HD.

Daniel Brockman, "Pinstripe" (Jan 2018, using Fall Creator)
On January 24th, as I buckled on my helmet for a bike ride, my heavenly girlfriend said, “Dan, I did the update, and now something’s wrong with my computer. I have two articles to write and a thesis to review and, oh yes, I’ve got to update my website. Will you fix it?”. She gave me a quick kiss, walked out the door, and vanished. I looked at the blue screen of her machine, 5-year-old TULIP. It showed 5 buttons, including one labeled “Power OFF”, which worked perfectly. When I restarted TULIP, it showed the blue screen with 5 buttons. I tried each button. One labeled “Troubleshooting” led to 3 more buttons. I went through the buttons systematically. Each eventually led to 3 buttons: “Roll back to Windows 10 on Volume 7”, “Roll back to Windows 10 on Volume 7” (just like the other one), and “Roll back to last version”. Each eventually led to the blue screen with 5 buttons. I thought of the 1962 Anthony Perkins movie of Kafka’s book “The Trial”. My old colleague, a systems manager and engineer with decades of experience advised me to buy a new machine.

I found two articles on https://answers.microsoft.com, one of Dec 24, 2017, and the other of Jan 6, 2018, that helped me make a flash drive for installing Windows 10 v 1709 cleanly, replacing the old Windows 10. The future of my data was in doubt, but I had backups and a feeling I could resurrect TULIP. The guys who sold me TULIP, Dell, offered to fix it for $129. I said I wanted to pay nothing. The supervisor told me it wasn’t possible, which merely means someone decided not to do it. Microsoft, offered to fix it for $499. I declined. I thought of the economic incentives for tacit or explicit collusion to spur customers to buy new machines and customer service. I thought of my economic incentives colliding with theirs. I thought of WannaCry.

Daniel Brockman, "Bridge Out" (Jan 2018, using Fall Creator)
I’ve no good estimate of the numbers of computers affected by 1709, but you can google “Windows 10 1709 Fall Creator trouble” or search your favorite social media to see many instances.

My darling returned home. “Did you fix it?” “No.” “I want a new computer.” She threatened to write a letter about ransomware to Bill Gates. “There’s one more thing I want to try. Then we’ll buy a new computer if you want.” “I need a new computer.” We put the matter aside for the night.

The next morning, I put the flash drive in the computer and booted. It came to the blue screen and offered me a new button for using the USB device. I clicked. It asked several baffling questions with yes/no answers. I tried each choice but the clean install, hoping I could still save the data. All took me back to the blue screen. Then I went for the clean install. That went well. I set up some users. I set some settings. It was much like a new machine.

I downloaded and installed the applications that no longer existed: Avast antivirus, Chrome browser. Searching for the Microsoft Office download, I discovered that, for a 1-year subscription, in July 2017, I had paid $99. I called customer service, getting a sparklingly helpful agent who set it up nicely. Then the Western Digital SmartWare and encryption lock for the backups. I restored critical directories from the backup disk, congratulating myself for my foresight. My princess returned home. We installed Quicken together. Everything seemed ok. She was glad we didn’t have to buy a new computer.

Daniel Brockman, "Mario Brothers" (Jan 2018, using Fall Creator)
I have two more computers:
12-year-old LILAC which Windows Update hasn’t yet invited to update to 1709. LILAC still runs the predecessor 1703. LILAC is shut off, unused, most of the time.
15-year-old HONEYBEE, which runs XP most reliably, automatically playing music via Winamp all day, plugged into an old boom box with great speakers.

My recommendations on updating to Windows 10 v 1709:

Block the 1709 (OS build 16299) update till Microsoft releases a later one.
If already broken down or not, prepare what you can of these:
Get a full backup.
Set a system restore point manually.
Make a flash drive for clean install. See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install .
Update all video and audio drivers.
Be aware you can’t predict how or if the 1709 update will fail for you.
Check your backups.
When ready, proceed with the update. If setting up a fleet of systems, then do the first 10 machines 1 at a time, 1 per day to gain experience. If the update fails, try rollbacks first. Use the flash drive after you have tried everything else. You rely on your backups. Good luck.

Daniel Brockman, "Rings of Saturn" (Jan 2018, using Fall Creator)
If two students in a dorm room release some software into the world that locks thousands of computers and displays a screen saying “Send us $129 and we will release your machine”, then we call them “criminals” or “agents of sinister foreign powers”. But if two large commercial organizations do it, then we want to think they meant well, but nobody’s perfect, and we call it “customer service”.

My thanks to my dear friends who critiqued prepublication drafts.


Daniel Brockman, “ORVILLE” series (Jan 2018, Use with attribution, Pinstripe_Fall-Creator_201801_IMG_1252.JPG, Bridge-Out_
Fall-Creator_201801_IMG_1254.JPG, Mario-Brothers_Fall-Creator_201801_IMG_1258.JPG, Rings-of-Saturn_Fall-Creator_201801_IMG_1262.JPG)

Sigismund Jacobi, “Portrait of Franz Kafka” (1906, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kafka1906.jpg)


Google search, “Windows 10 1709 Fall Creator trouble” (retrieved Jan 29, 2018, https://www.google.com/search?q=Windows+10+1709+Fall+Creator+trouble)

Franz Kafka, “The Trial” (1925, https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B003N2P42G&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_edrBAbZN7HJ53)

Microsoft, Support Pages (retrieved Jan 27-29, 2018):





Wikipedia, “WannaCry ransomware attack” (retrieved Jan 27, 2018,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WannaCry_ransomware_attack)

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