SOLUTION: Black screen on boot with mouse cursor, Windows 10 Fall Creators Update [Build 1709]

Recently, I’ve seen more and more machines (still a small amount, but an increasing number seemingly) with a problem upon boot following some recent updates to the Windows 10 Build 1709 subsystem.  Specifically, these machines hang on boot at a black screen following the Welcome/login screen with only the mouse cursor present for anywhere from a few to several minutes.  Task Manager can be invoked and CTRL+ALT+DEL still works, but the machine will not operate normally with the usual Windows shell interface (explorer.exe GUI etc.) until the process sees itself through to fruition.  This happens at each and every boot.

Microsoft has indeed acknowledged this issue, blaming it on some rogue registry keys supposedly put in place by some OEMs which are incompatible with the latest builds of Windows 10.  However, I’ve come to doubt that explanation, as the fix they provide in the relevant KB article has not yet once worked on any of my clients’ machines, and another, more foolproof fix has instead corrected the problem.

This is the service which causes all of these headaches.

This is the service which causes all of these headaches.

A while back, people discovered that the singular service responsible for this behavior is the App Readiness service, which prepares user data the first time a user logs on following the installation or update of a Windows Store app.  Disabling this service does correct the problem.  If you experience this exact behavior, I have what is likely a permanent fix for you however, and best of all, it’s easy.


First, determine if this particular problem applies to your machine. Lots of things can lead to hangs during the boot process, so before you proceed further, it’s a good idea to ensure that the App Readiness hang is actually what is afflicting you:

  1. Boot the machine normally.
  2. During the hang at the black screen, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to bring up Task Manager.
  3. Choose File > Run New Task.
  4. Type msconfig and press ENTER.
  5. Click the Services tab, uncheck App Readiness, and click OK.
  6. Either wait out the rest of the boot procedure and then reboot your PC, or force a reboot by returning to Task Manger and running this task: shutdown -r -t 0
  7. Upon reboot, if the problem disappears, this is indeed your issue.
  8. If the problem is solved, next reverse the procedure by rerunning msconfig and rechecking the box next to App Readiness.  Reboot again and allow the slow boot procedure to complete.

The reason you need to reenable App Readiness is that without it, the next steps will fail.

You can also disable the service via the standard services.msc snap-in interface if you prefer that.

You can also disable the service via the standard services.msc snap-in interface if you prefer that.

Once the diagnosis is complete, the next step is easy.

  1. Obtain Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Build 1709) or later installation media directly from Microsoft’s software download website (update May 2018: the latest build is now 1803, the April Update). Try using the “Download Tool Now” button method and creating an installation DVD first, as this procedure is more likely to succeed.
  2. Once you have created the DVD, run the setup process from the DVD and choose to upgrade Windows while retaining all apps and user data.  This process is called an in-place upgrade as has been available for many years now within Windows (barring a short hiatus).
    1. If a DVD drive is not available, you can simply mount the resulting ISO file and install it from the virtually mounted ISO.
    2. If both of these methods fail, you can try using the Windows 10 Update Assistant tool from that same webpage instead.
  3. See the installation through to completion.
  4. Once finished, reboot and see if the problem is fixed.  It should be!

I hope this helps restore sanity to someone’s computing life.

SOLUTION: Cannot Uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials from Windows 10

Recently, I encountered two different workstations that had upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 on which Microsoft Security Essentials inexplicably was not uninstalled during the upgrade process by Windows Setup.  This is baffling, because MSSE isn’t designed to work with Windows 10 (it doesn’t work), and plus, it precludes the use of Windows Defender, which is essentially the Windows 10 upgraded equivalent of MSSE.

If you’re in the same situation, you’ll also discover that it is impossible to remove Microsoft Security Essentials from Programs and Features; when attempting to do so, you simply receive a generic message which states “You don’t need to install Microsoft Security Essentials.”  That’s great, Microsoft, because we don’t want to install it, we want to uninstall it.

Anyway, the solution to this problem is actually quite simple:

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog.
  2. In the Open: field, type:
    • explorer “%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Security Client\”
      and press ENTER.
  3. Highlight the file Setup.exe, right-click it, and choose Properties.
  4. Choose Compatibility.
  5. Click Change settings for all users.
  6. Check the box next to Run this program in compatibility mode for: and choose Windows 7 from the drop-down box.
  7. Click OK on all dialogue boxes to exit all windows.
  8. In the search box at the bottom of the screen, type cmd. At the top of the pop-up window, underneath the heading Best matchright-click Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
  9. In the Command Prompt window that opens, type the following command:
    • “%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Security Client\setup.exe” /x /disableoslimit
  10. Follow the instructions to uninstall.

That’s it!

Special thanks to corrado_boy_g60 at the Microsoft Community for information leading to this solution.

SOLUTION: Windows 10 Start Menu text is unreadable / too dark

This problem seems to affect primarily Haswell-based notebooks with Intel HD Graphics drivers in use.  I have not yet seen it affect Broadwell chipsets, but it may.

The issue is that the Start Menu text is too dark — and in fact, it becomes gradually darker — and illegible, fading into the background of the Start Menu.  While it seems likely that a Windows 10 setting (or theme) should be to blame, it actually is neither.

The problem is the Intel Graphics driver, which includes a setting that purports to implement application-specific fixes.  To correct the problem, all you have to do is disable the setting and reboot the PC:

  1. Right-click the Desktop and choose Graphics Properties…
  2. Choose 3D.
  3. Under Application Optimal Mode, click Disable.
  4. Reboot the PC.

The problem is solved!

It’s likely in the future that Intel will correct their driver optimization presets for the Windows 10 desktop windows manager / Explorer.exe, but until that day, this is the correct workaround.