Windows setup error messages will soon be much less useless

Windows has a pretty poor reputation when it comes to error messages. All too often you’ll get a meaningless hexadecimal number or perhaps a reference to a Knowledge Base article. The Windows setup process used for upgrading to each major Windows feature update is a good example of this; it detects and diagnoses a wide range of incompatibility issues prior to performing the installation but does very little to help Windows users actually resolve any of the problems that it finds, instead preferring to leave them with obscure codes.

The next major Windows release, the Windows 10 April 2019 Update (codenamed 19H1), is going to offer some significant improvements in this area. Microsoft described them on its Windows Insider webcast, and they were spotted initially by WinFuture. Currently, the best case during installation is something like this screen:

The message says that an incompatible application is detected, and a Knowledge Base article is referenced. It turns out that most Windows users don’t know what “KBxxxxxxx” actually means, and the article isn’t hyperlinked to make accessing it any easier. Issues detected through the other setup experience aren’t much better. Windows will offer to uninstall problem applications, but often the better solution is to upgrade the application in question.

The new setup process aims to be both more informative and more useful. An example screenshot shows this:

The general approach is to allow decisions to be made within the setup program where possible and to put meaningful descriptions in the error messages, rather than leaving people with just a KB number to go on. Further, the “learn more” links will take you directly to the relevant Knowledge Base article, rather than hoping that end users know what “KBxxxxxxxx” means.

Third-party developers will also be able to provide information about upgrades and updates when applicable to resolving compatibility issues.

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