The dangers of running pre-release software

windows 10 build 10041 install

I was in the middle of prepping for work this morning and stepped away to do an errand. When I returned, I was greeted by this cheerful message on my desktop that Windows 10 was updating to the latest build, 10041. While I have been waiting for this with anticipation because it features a lot of changes to how the OS works, I wasn’t enthused about waiting for the update to install. As it turned out, perhaps I should have cancelled today altogether, as this was a foreshadowing of other sinister goings-on within my PC.

As it turned out, the update itself took about an hour to complete. During that time, I went to go play a bit of Driveclub on the PS4 and hang out with the family. When I returned, the upgrade was done, but I restarted again just to be sure.

But then things turned out a bit funny. I noticed that all my pictures lacked any thumbnails. Trying to reset the cache for that didn’t work, so I tried a few other fixes, including backing up the images, removing them, rebooting the system and then copying them back over. Nope, no dice.


Then my little brother asked for me to copy over some episodes of Naruto for him on to a flash drive. As expected, the drive would burst up to speed, and then settle in to around 3.5MB/s. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the CPU usage shooting up to over 90%. 90% CPU usage for a simple file copy operation is completely ludicrous, but it got me wondering if it was an issue with my USB 3.0 hub. Trying the flash drive in a USB 2.0 port did the same thing. Was the USB stack rewritten in the latest build? Did Microsoft have something implemented that they were testing out?

No, I later figured out that it was none of these things. While I backed up a few of my games pre-emptively (there was other weird behaviour that made me wary about this new build), I noticed the same thing for a file copy from my SSD to my internal hard drive, with CPU usage again shooting up to 95%. Checking inside the log files, I saw it was an issue with the Enhanced Storage service, something that Microsoft introduced with Windows 7 to improve device security for flash drives and other removable storage. This isn’t a new problem either, it was a minor issue with Server 2008 and there are several hits when I search for similar behaviour on Google.

What I think is happening in the background is Microsoft’s Enhanced Storage is in a buggy state, consuming all available CPU resources because it is doing deep command queuing when it shouldn’t be. Perhaps this new build contains some improvements for Intel’s upcoming Skylake platform, which is also doing some very weird things to USB peripherals that I’m not completely happy with. I’m not entirely sure how to fix this particular problem and though I reported feedback to Microsoft for it, as things stand I wouldn’t recommend running the Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10041 on anything but a virtual machine, at least until this issue is sorted.

That wasn’t the end of my woes, though. After doing some backing up and copying files to my secondary hard drive, I performance a OS Rollback, something that Microsoft added into the 9926 build to fix issues such as this. When my PC rebooted back into the desktop my Start Menu didn’t work, Cortana didn’t want to disappear into a smaller button, Explorer wouldn’t open up the properties page for my network connection and Internet Explorer, of all things, locked up for the first time for me in years.

So, I’m doing a reformat. But I can’t do anything of the sort until I can be sure when load shedding hits our area. I won’t be reloading Windows 10, that’s for sure – with the launch just months away now, things will be pushed out in a flurry in order to keep the Windows Insiders busy looking for bugs. While I was extremely happy with the 9926 build, I’m not going back to it. Maybe I’ll go back to Windows 8.1. Or maybe I’ll go to Windows 7.

Or, perhaps, I’ll give Ubuntu 14.04 a try. What say you, NAGlings? Which one should I aim for? Let me know in the comments below.