[German]After installing the cumulative updates released on October 8, 2019, some Windows 10 users, especially with version 1903, are facing again issues with a broken start menu, a broken desktop search, and a broken action center. Below I will give a brief analysis and describe some approaches how to repair this.
Description of the issue
As of October 8, 2019, Microsoft has released a bunch of cumulative security updates for Windows 10. One of the goals was to fix the printer issues, which occurred with some systems since the updates at the end of September 2019 and October 3, 2019.
However, shortly after installing these cumulative Windows 10 updates, some users discovered that the Start menu, Desktop Search, and Notification Center no longer works. These bugs had already kept the affected users in suspense at end of August and in early September 2019 (see Windows 10 V1903: Search and Cortana bug in Update KB4512941 confirmed (09/05/2019)). However, the September 2019 patchday updates actually fixed these bugs.
I have covered the issues within my blog post Windows 10 October 2019 Patchday (Start menu) issues. In the German version of this post blog-reader Janami25 has left a comment why suddenly people are affected again. He wrote:
Windows 10 1903:
My original guess with the first problem update KB4524147 has been confirmed here [in this blog post]. Once you have installed this first “problem” update, you will notice that you have issues with the start menu. And these issues will be back, after newer patches are installed.
In my opinion, you MUST restore a system backup BEFORE installing KB4524147 for the first time, and then install the very latest patch, only then the issue with the start menu was solved. At least at my saystem.
The blog reader refers to this English MS Answers forum thread, where this was also discussed. Within my blog post Windows 10 October 2019 Patchday (Start menu) issues I had given hints how to fix this issue. One was to replace the file ActivationStore.dat by an old version – but I had not the time to discuss details. In the meantime, GErman blog readers have thankfully gave me some analysises of the root cause and described some working approaches, which I now summarize here.
Fix #1: Restore ActivationStore.dat
The file ActivationStore.dat is used by various Windows apps (also the Windows shell with the start menu, notification center and search was probably created with the Modern UI app methods) to store certain information. This Microsoft article deals, for example, with the repair of the Store app, where ActivationStore.dat plays a role. The file is a component of the Windows runtime system. For interested readers: James Forshaw has mentioned this in this set of slides.
Now German users have noticed that the file ActivationStore.dat is not only missing for Cortana. In my German the blog post Windows 10 Oktober 2019-Patchday (Startmenü-) Probleme reader Bolko left some details within this comment. The file ActivationStore.dat is missing or damaged in four folders of build-in shell apps:
This also explains why the start menu, the (Cortana) search and the Windows shell have massive problems. Bolko has left the following instructions:
- The 4 still working files have to be copied from an earlier still working Windows 10 version, version 18362.329 for instance, to an USB stick.
- The USB stick must be formatted with the NTFS file system and the copying must be done in an administrative PowerShell console.
The latter restrictions have the purpose to get access when copying and to keep the access permissions (especially TrustedInstaller and ACL) when copying. Below are the path specifications for a working Windows 10 1903 Build 18362.329:
C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost_10.0.18362.329_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_10.0.18362.329_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_184.108.40.20662_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.AAD.BrokerPlugin_1000.18362.329.0_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\
If you use another working Windows 10 build to copy the working files, you may have to change the above pathnames.
The second step is to copy the files from the USB stick with administrative permissions to the following folders. If necessary, the path names must be adapted to the broken Windows 10 Build 18362.418.
copy .\Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost_10.0.18362.329_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ActivationStore.dat C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost_10.0.18362.418_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy -force copy .\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_10.0.18362.329_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ActivationStore.dat C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_10.0.18362.418_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ -force copy .\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_220.127.116.1162_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ActivationStore.dat C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_18.104.22.16862_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ -force copy .\Microsoft.AAD.BrokerPlugin_1000.18362.329.0_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ActivationStore.dat C:\programdata\Microsoft\Windows\AppRepository\Packages\Microsoft.AAD.BrokerPlugin_1000.18362.418.0_neutral_neutral_cw5n1h2txyewy\ -force
The copy commands, executed in an administrative PowerShell (or command prompt), restores the missing files into the runtime system of the corresponding Build-In Windows apps. This should (if necessary after a restart) restore the Windows shell with working start menu, etc.
Fix #2: Repair Windows 10 via Inplace-Upgrade
The above repair approach will not be practicable for some users because it is too complicated. I had outlined the following additional repair approaches in the blog post Windows 10 October 2019 Patchday (Start menu) issues:
- Try a Windows 10 repair via in-place upgrade. To do this, run setup.exe from a Windows 10 installation media from the running but defective Windows 10 system.
- Then simply let reinstall Windows 10 Version 1903 over the system (this is called an in-place upgrade).
With this approach, programs and data remain intact – and with a little luck, the missing ActivationStore.dat files are written back and everything runs again. In the Microsoft Answers forum thread, user mirovb reported that it fixed 2 machines. Also German blog reader Janami25 confirmed in this comment that it helped.
Fix #3: Restore August 2019 Backup and Update
If the above approaches do not help or are not feasible, one can still try the following approach:
- Reset the broken Windows 10 system to a backup from a working system. It should be a Windows 10 backup from August 2019. For Windows 10 V1903 this would be build 18362.329 at the latest, which was distributed with update KB4512941 to 30.8.2019.
- Then you have to install the cumulative update from October 8, 2019 that fits to the Windows 10 version. I described the updates in the blog post Patchday Windows 10-Updates (October 8, 2019).
The suggestions proposed in forums to repair Windows 10 using sfc /scannow and dism seem not to help, because the files ActivationStore.dat of the build-in apps are not restored or will be recovered from component store in a damaged version.
What else you can do
If you don’t have backups of a still working Windows 10 system anymore, you still have the following approaches.
- Attempt to reset Windows 10 via the Settings app (Windows 10 will then be reset by the OEM partition to the factory settings).
- You download a Windows 10 installation medium via Media Creation Tool from Microsoft, write the ISO file to DVD or a USB stick. Then boot the machine from the installation media and reinstall Windows 10.
Afterwards you have to install the updates from October 8, 2019. The disadvantage of these approaches is that all data and programs are lost – you have a virgin Windows 10.
Just a last remark. I’ve escalated these issues to Microsoft’s engineers via this Microsoft Answers forum post. PaulSey from Microsoft confirmed that they are aware of the issues and promised a fix until end of October 2019.
If Edge isn’t working, maybe the article Windows 10 V1903: Update KB4517389 breaks Edge Browser [Fix] helps.
Microsoft Office Patchday (1. Oktober 2019)
Microsoft Security Update Summary (October 8, 2019)
Patchday: Updates for Windows 7/8.1/Server (Oct. 8, 2019)
Patchday Windows 10-Updates (October 8, 2019)
Patchday Microsoft Office Updates (October 8, 2019)
Windows: Printer issues after Sept. 2019 Update confirmed
Windows Updates fixes printer bug (Oct. 3, 2019)
Windows/IE: Issues and confusion with updates (10/03/2019)
Windows 10 V1903: Search and Cortana bug in Update KB4512941 confirmed
Windows 10 October 2019 Patchday (Start menu) issues
Windows 10 V1903: Update KB4517389 breaks Edge Browser [Fix]