[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.
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
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:
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.
— BleepingComputer (@BleepinComputer) January 21, 2020
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.
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