Security Advisor

Security Patch Woes: Windows 10 Update Resets Default Settings, Office Fix Crashes Word

Microsoft's February security update is causing issues for Windows 10 and Word 2013 users.

It wouldn't be a Patch Tuesday without the Patch Tuesday fallout. This month's offering has brought up a pair of unforeseen issues for some users.

First up is a cumulative update for Windows 10 that appears to be wiping custom file associations for many users. According to some online, with KB3135173, titled "Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1511 for x64-based Systems," custom associations, including Web browser and PDF viewer preferences, were reset to the default configuration after the mandatory update was installed.

In a message posted to the TechNet forum, user "syrious01"said they noticed immediately an issue after the latest patch was installed. "I set my browser default to IE11, and for some reason after the recent windows updates (KB3135173 or KB31224262), I continuously get notifications stating that 'An app default was reset -- An app caused a problem with the default app setting for .html files, so it was reset to Microsoft Edge.'"

While resetting user settings is a large annoyance, the issue looks to be severe for some users, who continually have their settings revert to default every time they try to reinput their custom file associations.

"So with a heavy (and angry) sigh I started manually changing the associations back to the way I had them," wrote user "pjfarr" on the Windows TenForums. "However, each time I finished making a change within seconds the Action Center would fire the same message as before at me for the file type I'd just changed and it would be reset back to the MS default again."

While Microsoft has yet to address the problem, one temporary solution is to use System Restore to roll back to before the patch and ignore any update messages. However, this is not optimal, as it leaves systems vulnerable to attacks associated with the security patch.

Another solution, released by The Winhelponline Blog, is to run a custom REG file (download here), which should allow users to set their default file associations without it resetting. "Running the registry edit below stops Microsoft Edge, Photos, 3d Builder, Zune music and Zune Video (Movies & TV) from taking over your file associations for various files types, without impeding the Apps functionality in any way," read the post by former Microsoft MVP Ramesh Srinivasan. "To reverse the changes, simply run the undo REG file."

Another issue some are running into is a flaw in KB3114717, an optional security update for Office 2013. According to posts on Microsoft's TechNet boards, the update appears to freeze systems when trying to open Office 2013.

"When KB3114717 is installed typing in a .docx Document becomes nearly impossible and CPU load goes to 100% (.doc has no issues)," wrote user "Christoph von Wittich." "This happens with Word 2013 only, Word 2016 is not affected."

It appears that the issue occurs with Word 2013 SP1 32-bit on Windows 8, 8.1 and 10, and Word 2013 SP1 64-bit on Windows 7 machines.

In response, Microsoft has pulled the update. "Update 3114717 is no longer available because it causes Microsoft Office 2013 apps, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook, to slow down or freeze, wrote the company in a support post. "If you've installed this update and you're experiencing these issues, you can safely remove the update. To do this, see the 'How to uninstall the update' section."

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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