Recently, I ran into one of those annoying low-grade bugs that are inevitable when you live on the leading edge. Windows Update told me a cumulative update was available for my PC. But every time I tried to install it, the update failed with a cryptic error code: 0x800f0990. I tried every troubleshooting trick I know and couldn’t get that update to install. Did I care? Not really.  Also: Want to ditch Windows? Windowsfx may be the ideal Linux distribution for you Because I knew I could fall back on the ultimate Windows troubleshooting trick, a time-tested technique that swats away those pesky error codes like a big ol’ digital flyswatter. If you find yourself in a similar situation, feel free to break out the same big gun I did: The Windows repair installation, effectively an in-place upgrade using the same version that’s already installed. It works for Windows 10 and Windows 11. This solution is considerably less drastic than a Windows reset, which wipes out your current installation and forces you to reinstall apps and restore settings. A repair installation “upgrades” your Windows PC using the same major version that’s already installed. In the process, it restores settings to their normal state, undoing whatever tiny change is causing your current issue.

The ultimate Windows troubleshooting trick

Also: Microsoft starts rolling out annual Windows 10 feature update, Windows 10 22H2

Windows 11 General Availability (GA): If you’re running the current public release of Windows 11 (what Microsoft calls the General Availability channel), you’ll find it here: 10: The overwhelming majority of Windows PCs in the installed base today still run this tried-and-true OS. Get it here: 11 Insider Preview: If you’re living on the bleeding edge, Microsoft has your ISO here:

Also: Yes, you can still get a free Windows 10 upgrade. Here’s how Choose the option to keep all your personal files, apps, and settings, and then click Next. After I finished these steps (it took roughly 20 minutes), the update that had been giving me fits installed without any issues. As a bonus, another problem that had been annoying me for a few weeks was also solved. Previously, each time I restarted my PC, the infrared camera that handled Windows Hello face recognition had been unavailable, which meant I had to key in my PIN to sign in for the first time. After completing the in-place reinstall, that face recognition worked again. Although it seems like a drastic step, doing an in-place repair install is a surprisingly low-key solution that has a way of solving even particularly annoying problems. If you’re stumped, give it a try.