Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
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  • Good prices on Dell XPS laptops in Microsoft Store

    Posted on February 8th, 2016 at 12:11 woody No comments

    The Dell XPS-13, Signature Edition (read: no crapware) just got a $200 price shave on the Microsoft Store:

    • $800 for the non-touch 3200 x 1800, i5-6200U (Skylake – the latest Intel processor series), 8GB memory, 128 GB SSD.
    • $1,200 for the touch screen i5, 256 GB.
    • $1,400 for the touch i7, 256 GB.
    • $1,800 for the touch, i7, 512 GB.

    I reviewed the XPS-13 in September, and came away very impressed. “The Dell XPS 13 is arguably the best 13-inch clamshell on the market and inarguably the smallest.” It has a fan, and the web camera’s at a weird angle (not enough room on the top of the bezel), but other than that it’s a stupendous machine.

    Even more amazing, the XPS-15 got a $200 price cut, too. I’m currently using one of the new XPS-15’s and it’s even more amazing:

    • $1,500 for the i5-6300HQ machine, 8 GB, 256 GB SSD
    • $1,900 for the i7, 16 GB, 512 GB SSD

    That last machine is the one I’ve been beating on as hard as I can, and it’s astounding. The 15.6 inch screen runs 3840 x 2160 (yeah, 4K), by far the best computer screen I’ve ever used. And it’s seat-of-the-pants more powerful than my production desktop.

    If you’re looking for a laptop, forget the Surface Book. This is the gold standard.

  • Yes, AskWoody is on Facebook

    Posted on February 8th, 2016 at 09:49 woody No comments

    I cross-post most of the items here on Facebook. Here’s how you can keep in touch:

    Watch and post here on

    Follow me on Twitter, @woodyleonhard

    Drop by Facebook, search for AskWoody

    Or you can always send me email,


  • Surface 3 firmware update causing blue screens, error 0xe0000203 – and the power problem persists

    Posted on February 8th, 2016 at 09:23 woody No comments

    Seventh firmware update; three in three weeks.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • Microsoft mystery patch KB 3123862 continues to stump the experts. Don’t install it.

    Posted on February 5th, 2016 at 08:01 woody 18 comments

    Fool me once…

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • MS-DEFCON 3: Patch but watch out

    Posted on February 4th, 2016 at 14:38 woody 61 comments

    With Patch Tuesday just around the corner, it’s time to get caught up again. This month, making your machine right is much more difficult than applying all outstanding updates. Here are my recommendations, and I gladly welcome any contrary opinions.

    Vista: Start Internet Explorer and verify (Help > About) that you’re running Internet Explorer 9. Apply all outstanding patches, but DON’T CHECK any update boxes that are unchecked. Run the update. If your fonts turn fuzzy, follow the instructions in KB 3037639. Most of all, be very aware of the fact that extended support for Vista ends on April 11, 2017, so you’re going to be facing the piper before too long.

    Windows 7: The “recommended” upgrade to Win10 is upon us. If you don’t want to upgrade to Win10 right now – there are lots of reasons to hold off – here’s the easy way to get caught up without installing any of the latest dreck.

    Step 1. Run GWX Control Panel and set it to block OS upgrades.

    Step 2. Go into Windows Update (Start > Control Panel > System and Security > under Windows Update, click Check for updates). Click the link that says “XX important updates are available” and only select security updates. In other words, check the boxes next to items that say “Security Update” and UNCHECK the boxes next to items that only say “Update.”

    Update: I haven’t had any problem with “important” non-security Office updates. If you encounter one, and it’s checked, leave it checked.

    Step 3. Check the box next to “Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.2.”  “.NET Framework 4.6.1 update KB3102433” (sorry, my original post had the wrong update!) Susan Bradley figures it’s a good update – previously .NET updates have been wretched, but lately they’ve been alright.

    Step 4. On the left, click the link that says Optional. Uncheck every box that you see. Yes, I’m saying that if a box is checked, uncheck it.

    Step 5. Click OK, then Install updates.

    Step 6. Back in Windows Update, on the left, click the link to Change settings. Make sure “Important Updates” is set to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them,” and uncheck the box next to “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important ones.”

    Step 7. Click OK and reboot.

    Step 8. This one’s important. You need to run GWX Control Panel again. That’ll ensure Microsoft didn’t install anything untoward.

    If you haven’t checked recently, crank up Internet Explorer. Don’t use it to go to any sites, but click the gear icon in the upper right corner, choose About Internet Explorer, and verify that you’re on IE 11.

    Windows 8.1: Follow the instructions for Windows 7, but in Step 2 go into Windows Update by right-clicking on the Start icon and choosing Control Panel.

    Windows 10: If you’re using the metered connection trick to block updates, unblock the metered connection long enough to get caught up.

    Everybody: Either watch here on, or follow me on Twitter (@woodyleonhard) to keep up on the latest. The situation’s changing rapidly.

    I’m putting us at MS-DEFCON 3: Patch reliability is unclear, but widespread attacks make patching prudent. Go ahead and patch, but watch out for potential problems.

    My usual boilerplate advice:

    For those of you who are new to this game, keep in mind that… You should always use Windows Update to install patches; downloading and installing individual patches is a clear sign of impending insanity. I always install Windows Defender/Microsoft Security Essentials updates as soon as they’re available – same with spam filter updates. I never install drivers from Windows Update (in the rare case where I can actually see a problem with a driver, I go to the manufacturer’s web site and download it from the original source). If Windows Update has a patch but the box isn’t checked, DON’T CHECK THE BOX. It’s like spitting in the wind. I use Chrome and Firefox, and only pull out IE when I feel very inclined — but even if you don’t use IE, you need to keep up with its patches.

    P.S. Yes, you read that right. I now recommend that you Win7 and 8.1 users only install Security Updates. For many months, almost all of the non-security updates Win7 and 8.1 customers have received are specifically designed to push them to Windows 10, or to increase Microsoft’s ability to snoop on Win7 and 8.1 machines. No thanks.

  • Windows 10 beta build 14257: Solid, stable, and boring

    Posted on February 4th, 2016 at 13:48 woody No comments

    Actually, that’s good news.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • 10 hurdles to Windows 10 adoption

    Posted on February 4th, 2016 at 05:51 woody 4 comments

    Here’s what Microsoft needs to change, before Win10 is really ready for prime time.

    InfoWorld feature

  • Avoid Windows 10 cumulative update KB 3136562

    Posted on February 3rd, 2016 at 13:42 woody 2 comments

    At this point, it’s just a bunch of bits – not an update. Even if it’s on Microsoft’s servers.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows