Windows 10 Upgrade stuck at blank screen with only Recycle Bin & Taskbar

Windows 10 1803 Update has its own bad luck. It has caused issues on a lot of Windows 10 PC to a measure which we haven’t seen before. One such issue is about keyboard layout, a blank screen with just Recycle Bin/Taskbar. It seems that the culprit Avast Antivirus and Microsoft has officially acknowledged it. In this post, we are suggestings a solution for this. Check out our guide to fixing Windows 10 Update stuck at a blank screen with only Recycle Bin & Taskbar or Choose your keyboard layout.

Windows 10 upgrade stuck at blank screen

Before we go ahead to find a solution, here a brief description of the error. There are two of them.

  1. As soon as you log in to your account, you will observe a blank screen with only a Recycle Bin and a taskbar.  There will be no start screen, and even killing Windows Explorer with Task Manager will not help.
  2. During the upgrade, the OS will prompt you Choose your keyboard layout and will be stuck at that.

Microsoft points the problem towards Avast Behavior Shield which is in conflict with Windows 10 1803 Update. While Avast has released an update to fix this issue, you will have to restore your System to a point from where a fix can be performed.

Users may also find that their Update screen is stuck at the Choose your keyboard layout screen,

It seems even though some of the users have tried performing a rollback, there is some problem. So our first method is to repair the rollback, and in case you are stuck at any point, switch to the second method.

1] Use Command Prompt to repair Windows Rollback

Here we will use command bcdedit. This command-line tool is to manage Boot Configuration Data (BCD). BCD files provide a store that is used to describe boot applications and boot application settings. So when you are the screen where it gets stuck, follow the steps below:

  1. Here select US keyboard, and then at the “Choose an option screen”.
  2. The next screen should have the top left tile which reads “Continue – Exit and continue to Windows Rollback”. (If you don’t see this, switch to the second method)
  3. Select Troubleshoot > Command Prompt. > type bcdedit and press Enter.
  4. There should be 4 entries displayed.
    1. Ignore the first entry, called {bootmgr}.
    2. The next entries will have an attribute called “device” or “bootstatdevice”, which will have a value similar to partition=E: (example)
  5. In the command prompt, switch to the drive letter you noted in the previous step.  In this example, you would type E: and press Enter.
  6. Type the following command and then press enter:
    • copy \Windows.old\Windows\System32\OOBE\SetupPlatform\SetupPlatform.exe \$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources
  7. When completed, you should see the output, “1 file(s) copied”.  If you see anything else, quit, and switch to next method we have mentioned.
  8. Now you need to exit the command prompt, and it will take you to the Choose an option screen.
  9. Select Continue – Exit and continue to Windows Rollback.

This will initiate the Windows Rollback, and restore your system to the previous version of Windows. Once it completes, it’s best not to upgrade manually, and wait for a notification from the Windows Update to notify you about an upgrade.

2] Perform an in-place upgrade

In this method, we will try to trick the installation process as if there is another copy of Windows 10 Installed. We will rename the Windows.old folder to protect your personal files from being overwritten in certain scenarios.

To restore your system, you will need:

  • A blank USB drive with at least 8 GB of disk space
  • Another working Windows PC that you can use to create a bootable Windows 10 device.

In case things go south upgrading an in-place upgrade, the procedure of which has been shown in this post on Windows 10 Upgrade stuck at Choose your keyboard layout screen. Now let’s follow the steps below:

  1. Download the Media Creation Tool on any other PC. This will give you a bootable disk from where you can do an installation.
  2. Boot from the USB device you just created by changing the settings in your BIOS.
  3. Since we are trying to recover the old installation, we will stop the place where it asks to choose keyboard layout. Here select US keyboard, and then at the Choose an options screen, select Troubleshoot > Command Prompt.
  4. In the cmd.exe window, type C: and press Enter. Assuming C is the drive where your Windows was installed.
  5. Type the following command Ren Windows.old Windows.old.bak, and press Enter.  
  6. Exit the command prompt, and you will be back to Choose an option screen which we saw before.
  7. Select Use another operating system > Windows 10 on volume X, where “X” will be a number.
  8. Give it a few minutes, and it will load the desktop.

Once this is complete, we are now back to our usual desktop screen, and from here we can kick-start Window 10 installation manually. Since your access will be limited if the actual desktop doesn’t get loaded, we will use Task Manager to launch the Windows 10 Setup.exe which is available in the USB.

Windows 10 Upgrade stuck at blank screen

  • Right-click any blank area on the taskbar, and then select Task Manager > More details > Select File, then Run new task.
  • In the dialog box that appears, check the box for Create this task with administrator privileges.
  • Select Browse, and select the setup.exe file which is available in the USB drive.
  • This will kickstart the Windows 10 Upgraded. However, make sure to uncheck the option which tries to check for new updates

Once the upgrade is complete, you can recover all your files from the Windows.old.bak folder.

Hope this works for you!

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Ashish is a veteran Windows, and Xbox user who excels in writing tips, tricks, and features on it to improve your day to day experience with your devices.