Windows Patch Tuesday Update Borks Visual Basic Apps for Days

Windows Patch Tuesday Borks VB Apps for Days

An automatic update among last week's Patch Tuesday security fixes ended up wreaking havoc with existing applications sporting Visual Basic code, borking them for days until an optional update to fix the problem was published.

On Aug. 13, Microsoft issued KB4511553 (OS Build 17763.678) for Windows 10 and Windows Server versions, which included this item among "known issues":

After installing this update, applications that were made using Visual Basic 6 (VB6), macros using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), and scripts or apps using Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) may stop responding and you may receive an "invalid procedure call error."

The "Workaround" section of the update item reportedly at first said: "Microsoft is presently investigating this issue and will provide an update when available."

Four days later, on Friday, Aug. 17, Microsoft published KB4512534 (OS Build 17763.720), an optional update that includes a fix for the problem.

It's available via the usual channels: Microsoft Update Catalog; Windows Update; Microsoft Update; and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

[Click on image for larger view.] The "Known Issue" and Workaround (source: Microsoft).

Although Microsoft has said little else about the VB problem, media outlets were quick to pounce on the company for the mistake.

"Why was this latest issue with Visual Basic not exposed during testing before the update was rolled out to everyone?" asked Davey Winder in a Forbes article. "An organization the size of Microsoft, with the resources it has to hand, should have quality testing processes that are market-leading. This is a security problem because it makes people think twice before applying updates that are essential from that security perspective."

At the I Programmer site, Kay Ewbank also weighed in on the issue. "Something has gone seriously wrong with Microsoft's quality control," she said in article posted one day before the Aug. 17 fix. "The Visual Studio blog has been remarkably quiet about the problem, posting an item about template search in Visual Studio, but nothing about how Microsoft has caused grief for a large majority of Visual Basic developers."

Both articles (and others) hinted that a Microsoft decision to deprecate VBScript in its Internet Explorer 11 Web browser for security reasons may be related to the mishap.

The gHacks site specifically listed all of the updates and fixes involved, noting that fixes weren't published for some Windows versions. "It is unclear why updates for other supported Windows 10 versions were not released as well," said Martin Brinkmann in the Aug. 17 article. "If you are affected by VB issues you may want to consider upgrading the system to the new version right away to fix the issue. Everyone else may be better off skipping the update for now; it will be included in coming patches automatically."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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