Windows 7: Update KB4534310 causes a black Desktop

win7[German]With the January 2020 patchday, Microsoft delivers again a botched update for Windows 7 SP1 users. Update KB4534310 destroys a centered background image so that only a black desktop appears. Here is some information about this.


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The information about this issue has been since January 15, 2020, within my German blog as user comments to the article Patchday: Updates für Windows 7/8.1/Server (14. Januar 2020). But I’m preparing it here as a separate post (in English) so that it can be found in the search if necessary.

Windows 7 Update KB4534310

The Monthly Quality Rollup Update KB4534310 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 contains security fixes from October 2019, improvements, and various bug fixes. Microsoft only lists the following:

Security updates to the Microsoft Scripting Engine, Windows Input and Composition, Windows Storage and Filesystems, and Windows Server.

First reader feedback on Windows 7

Shortly after my blog post was published, blog reader Andreas B., who is using Windows 7 SP1 Starter, posted this comment: diesem Kommentar gemeldet:

Windows 7 (Starter) SP1: For me the update (Monthly Rollup, MSRT, Netframework) had a strange effect. Desktop wallpaper gone, desktop black. The miniature applications (clock and calendar) remained. Looks ugly! – With “Starter” (the smaller home version for netbooks) you can’t change the wallpaper, but none at all and only pitch black is not nice for long term …

The file C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\Custom.theme
appears unchanged, but the default image entered there is no longer loaded, although it still exists. – The following Servicing Stack update I had not yet done.

In Windows 7 Starter a user can’t change the desktop background. Shortly after, user fre4kyC0de confirms this effect on Windows 7 Home Premium (x86), Pro (x64) and Ultimate (x64).

Cause and workarounds

A few hours after my blog post, and shortly after these two feedbacks, user RaBe contacted us with a workaround that provides an explanation:


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No, nothing broken. Simply set the background image to “centered” once in the background image settings, then go back any way you like, done.

With the update KB4534310, Microsoft has simply broken the feature to center and stretch a background image on the desktop. User fre4kyC0de confirms this via the following comment.

In short, the “stretched” option is not functional. If this is selected, the desktop is black. All other options work. However, this does not always apply; while the standard background (original resolution 1920×1200) is scaled correctly, this is not the case with other images (original resolution 800×600 or 1600×1200; i.e. 4:3 in each case).

As a workaround, I now scale my backgrounds to my screen resolution using GIMP, then this should work for now. But this is not a nice solution.

German blog reader Andreas B. SH has posted a solution for his Windows 7 SP1 Starter in this comment (there the background image cannot be changed). But I found it interesting that German blog reader Dekre reports that the bug is already there on his systems since October 2019.

It’s silly that the support for Windows 7 SP1 will end on 14.1.2020. So there will probably be no fix from Microsoft for this problem, which will be distributed to the masses. Well, a background image is not vital (eats up resources unnecessarily anyway). But some people are bothered by the bug.

As I saw the night, my colleague Lawrence Abrams was still working on the topic at Bleeping Computer. He suggests to uninstall update KB4534310, make a screenshot of the desktop (then you have the right resolution), set it (works without stretching the background image) and then install update KB4534310 again. Works too, but what an effort. Addendum: A fix is available, see Windows 7: Update KB4539602 fixes black Desktop.

Similar articles:
Patchday: Updates for Windows 7/8.1/Server (Jan. 14, 2020)
Windows 7: Update KB4534310 causes a black Desktop
Windows 7 Update KB4534310: Black Desktop Bug confirmed
Windows 7: Bug fix for black desktop promised for all
Windows 7: Update KB4539602 fixes black Desktop


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18 Responses to Windows 7: Update KB4534310 causes a black Desktop

  1. EP says:

    guenni

    Bogdan Popa of Softpedia news reports that both KB4534310 rollup AND KB4534313 security-only update are causing the black desktop problem:

    https://news.softpedia.com/news/microsoft-breaks-down-the-windows-7-desktop-wallpaper-with-the-last-update-528942.shtml

    • guenni says:

      Thanks for the hint. Im not sure, whether Bogdan Popa of Softpedia news is wrong. I’ve installed KB4534313 security-only update on my Windows 7 Ultimate (with ESU license). I did today a test to double check this. If I add a desktop wallpaper and use stretched mode, I don’t get the black desktop. And also a German reader confirmed within a comment, that he don’t have the black background issue.

    • guenni says:

      Addendum: I contacted Popa Bodgan and received a reply from him that he could not reproduce the issue either. But he gave me the following link to this reddit.com thread . It seems, that both January 2020 updates are causing the issue (got also a German comment as feedback). But we don’t know the exact trigger (see also the German comment here from fre4kyC0de.

      • EP says:

        correction guenni – it’s NOT KB4534313, it’s actually KB4534314
        my little fault on that one

  2. Andreas B. SH says:

    Here’s my fix for Win7 Starter Sp1 where one can’t change the default wallpaper (which guenni has mentioned above):
    Start regedit, navigate to “HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop”. There select “WallpaperStyle” and change its value to “10”.
    After reboot, the result will be that the size of the wallpaper is adapted according to your screen while maintaining the aspect ratio and eventually cropping the overlapping part of the picture, which in case of the default Windows Wallpaper is no big difference.

  3. Fotios says:

    There is no way one can find HKCU, as reader Andreas B.SH suggests, among millions of entries. He has to be more specific.
    Anyhow, the problems I have with this update are as follows:
    1) the screen turns black soon after the update is installed and trying to change it to a picture or pictures of my choice causes the screen to show the Hewlett-Packard screen and logo. Changing from stretch to fit to fill or whatever other option does not correct things;
    2) trying to change to a picture of my choice automatically activates the sounds software even though I have them off and that is one more pain in the neck bug this update brought on.

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  5. Fotios says:

    I think there is a solution but for those who are familiar with tackling HKEY values:
    go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER
    Control panel
    Desktop
    Click to open the dropdown, go to the right side panel, right click, choose new key from the pop-up, name it Wallpaper and assign it a value. Reboot and see if you regained control of the desktop picture, if not, you can always go back and either change the value or delete the new key.

  6. Fotios says:

    Correction to my reaction to Andreas B.SH’s advice:
    I now understand what he meant by HKCU however, it seems that the update in question has eliminated the entry WallpaperStyle.

    • guenni says:

      Andi has Windows 7 Starter, where desktop background settings are not available.

    • Andreas B. SH says:

      One thing more:
      Make sure that the new entry “WallpaperStyle” – if it’s missing and you want to create it – is of the type “REG_SZ”. (I did’nt mention this, as normally it should already exist and only its value needed to be changed.)
      There should also be another one named “Wallpaper” of the same type and its value is the path to the picture.
      (NB: As always for this registry stuff, the names of the entries are case sensitive.)

      Sorry for causing confusing by using the common abbreviation “HKCU”.

  7. Andreas B. SH says:

    Microsoft has now confirmed the Wallpaper bug as a known issue. See updated info here.

  8. John Cintorino says:

    Hmmm a paid product being damaged at EoL and repair to those whom paid is denied (while they point to their current product), sounds like what is needed is a class action lawsuit to me – just saying……….(To big to fail ?)

    • Andreas B. SH says:

      Good news … ?
      Microsoft’s KB-info as of today (2020-01-27) now reads:

      We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

      So, “ALL CUSTOMERS” and no mentioning of ESU. We’ll see if it’s to be true …

  9. setsrt says:

    Wallpaper fix for kb4534310.This works with strched option as well.Browse for image in question and open it using windows photo viewer. Right click on the image and click on “Set as desktop background”.
    That’s all.

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