Remember when Windows 7 support was discontinued? Well, its last update managed to break something important, so it's getting one last fix.
The final KB4534310 update managed to introduce a glitch that meant certain Windows 7 desktop wallpapers were replaced with a plain black background. It afflicted any wallpapers that were stretched and was no doubt rather annoying for users who hadn't upgraded to Windows 10 just yet.
Somewhat predictably, some people turned rather paranoid on forums and social media, suggesting that the glitch was a ploy by Microsoft to lure users into grudgingly upgrading to Windows 10. We suspect it was probably more of an inconvenient error on Microsoft's part than anything nefarious though.
While it's not exactly a dangerous mistake, Microsoft is still going ahead with fixing it. For a brief time, the company adamantly declared it would only fix it for those who had purchased Windows 7 Extended Security Updates, i.e. business customers currently in the midst of migrating to Windows 10. It's since backtracked on that idea and decided to correct things for everyone.
In a post, Microsoft announced “we are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release, which will be released to all customers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.”
For now, your best workaround is to stop using the stretch option with your wallpaper. Centre, fill, fit and tile should all work just fine, as well as resizing the image yourself. Or a better fix is almost certainly to upgrade to Windows 10. After all, Windows 7 isn't the most secure of operating systems any more (although knowing what to look for should help a little here) and it's only going to become more vulnerable as time goes by.
In theory, this should be the last time we see any updates for Windows 7 but there's no guarantee. In the past, Windows XP was patched in 2017 to counteract the WannaCry malware, but that's quite a rare event. Your best option is certainly to give Windows 10 a whirl. It's a far more stable and reliable option than the ageing Windows 7.
February 24 2020 | 12:00