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  • Don’t check that box! Stealthy Win7 patch KB 3083324 arrives with no warning, little documentation

    Posted on September 4th, 2015 at 10:40 woody 7 comments

    Now available in InfoWorld Woody on Windows

    People all over the world are waking up this morning to a nice little present in their Windows 7 (and Server 2008 R2) Windows Update boxes – KB 3083324, which describes itself as “Windows Update Client for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: September 2015.” Here’s what the KB article says:

    This article describes an update that contains some improvements to Windows Update Client in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

    That’s it. If there’s any further description, I can’t find it. In particular, as of this writing anyway, it isn’t even listed in the official Windows Update catalog.

    There’s some conjecture that the patch may fix the intolerably long wait some people are experiencing when checking for updates in Win7.

    Fortunately, the patch is optional – it appears in the Windows Update list as an unchecked item in the Optional list.

    Are you feeling lucky? Want to beta test a Windows Update update? Enjoy the feeling of exhilaration when Microsoft releases yet another stealthy patch?

    My advice: Don’t check that box.

    t/h Bogdan Popa, Softpedia

  • “Windows 10 All-In-One For Dummies” is here!

    Posted on September 3rd, 2015 at 06:15 woody 12 comments

    I don’t know how the production folks did it, but “Windows 10 All-In-One For Dummies” rolled off the presses in record time. A box of ‘em appeared on my doorstep last night.

    I’d start telling you about how great the book really is — but then I’d start sounding like a proud parent bragging about his preschooler. (Yeah, I do that, too.)

    Suffice it to say that, at 984 pages, it’s the most thorough, unbiased coverage of Windows 10 you’ll find. As most of you know, I don’t toe the Microsoft Party Line. My job is to tell you the truth, as best I see it — what works, what doesn’t, and how to get around the parts that don’t. There’s also good coverage of using Windows 10 to get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Gmail, Dropbox, and all sorts of third-party products.

    Those of you who asked if there’s a way to support this site, welllllll, now you know. Get a copy for your mother. Your father. Your brothers and sisters. Those folks in the mail room who keep pestering you. And your Great Aunt Mabel — the one who’s still worried about blowing up her computer with Minesweeper.

    The book’s great for anyone who has some experience with any version of Windows. (Newbies should definitely start with Windows 10 for Dummies, Andy Rathbone’s best seller.) 

    Have you seen a copy yet? Post here and let me know where! It should be out (in several languages) world-wide shortly.

  • MS-DEFCON 4: Get Windows patched, but watch out

    Posted on September 3rd, 2015 at 05:47 woody 22 comments

    I’m still running down details, but figured it’s time to release the floodgates. While it may look like the August 2015 Patch Tuesday updates are just fine, in fact we’ve seen a real problem – solved earlier this week – and there’s been a lot of speculation about a host of “snooping” patches. 

    I’ve been looking high and low for more information about the snoopers, and lemme tell ya, it’s hard to find real facts buried in a big mound of, uh, opinions, both for and against. The debate over new surveillance in Win7 and Win8.1 sounds more like a Microsoft loyalty test than a dispassionate look at the facts.

    But I digress.

    There aren’t any patches sitting in the closet, screaming to get out, unless you use Internet Explorer. If you still use IE – knowing that Microsoft has put it out to pasture – you should check Firefox or Chrome (or any of a dozen other browsers).

    Let’s take ‘em from the oldest to the scrappy youngest.

    Vista – Install all offered updates.

    Windows 7 – Here’s where things get interesting. If you’re concerned about Microsoft snooping (and you should be), it would be a good idea to avoid KB 3068708, 3022345, 3075249, and 3080149 for now. I say that realizing that my tinfoil hat is showing. I have an inquiry into Microsoft at this moment which should shed some light — if I get a straight answer.

    All of those patches are from the June Patch Tuesday crop. If you already have them installed, don’t worry about it — I’ll update you on my findings in InfoWorld shortly. If you don’t have those patches installed, though, I’d hide them for now. (In the Windows Update available patches list, right-click on the patch and choose Hide.)

    The rest of the Windows 7 patches are now OK.

    Windows 8.1 – Same thought process, parallel advice. For now, hold off on installing KB 3068708, 3022345, 3075249, and 3080149 (from June’s Patch Tuesday). If they’re already installed, don’t do anything drastic just yet. There may be a much simpler way to blunt their snitching proclivities. The rest of the Win 8.1 patches are also OK.

    Windows 10 – We’re up to Cumulative Update 5, and aside from some ongoing driver heartburn (which you may be able to blunt using this approach), I haven’t heard of any major problems.

    If you’re using the metered connection trick to block forced updates, tell Win10 that your internet connection isn’t metered. Run out to Updates (Start, Settings, Update & security, Windows Update), click Check for updates and let Windows run its course. Then turn the metered indicator back on.

    If you’re using the new Windows Store setting to block Automatic Store app updates, turn the switch in Windows Store on, then in Windows Store, click on your picture, choose Downloads and Updates, then click to Check for updates.

    UPDATE: In the comments, @Louis asked, “If we haven’t installed KB 3076895 yet, and KB 3092627 isn’t currently available, should we install KB 3076895 and then look for KB 3092627? Or just hide KB 3076895 altogether?”

    My answer: “Unless you’re using Symantec Endpoint on a server, or Microsoft Forefront, you shouldn’t have any problem with 3076895. I’d say install it, with the expectation that 3092627 will show up shortly. In fact, if you run the updates, re-boot, then re-run Windows Update (standard procedure), I bet it appears in the second round.”

    In summary, then, I’m cranking us down to MS-DEFCON 4: There are isolated problems with current patches, but they are well-known and documented here. Check this site to see if you’re affected and if things look OK, go ahead and patch.

    The usual admonition applies: In Vista, Win7 and Win8.1, use Windows Update, DON’T CHECK ANY BOXES THAT AREN’T CHECKED, reboot after you patch, and then run Windows Update one more time to see if there’s anything lurking. When you’re done, make sure you have Automatic Update turned off. 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).

    For Windows 10, the situation’s more complicated, depending on how far you’ve gone to block forced patches. The general procedure’s described above.

  • So when’s MS-DEFCON going to change?

    Posted on September 2nd, 2015 at 06:56 woody 3 comments

    Just got this from Quicksilver…

    Good morning, Woody.

    I’ve been holding off on the updates, waiting for an “all clear”. I don’t use the IE, however there were 2 critical patches this month, and I do keep it updated, although never use it.

    Is it safe to always update the IE, although it’s never used?  

    Guess I’m getting a little nervous with patch Tuesday being less than a week away.  

    Thank you for your guidance on the updating. I learned to not make a move without your “all clear” announcement because you keep us all out of trouble.

     Good question, and I’m sorry for the delay. Many of you know that there’s been a rash of reports about new (and old) “phone home” software for Win7 and Win 8.1. I’m trying to sort through the details before leading anybody down a golden patch path. Hang in there. I should have something up today or tomorrow – and in the meantime, if you don’t use IE, there are no immediate reasons to patch.

  • GWX Stopper: An easy way to permanently delete ‘Get Windows 10′ nagware in Windows 7 and 8.1

    Posted on September 2nd, 2015 at 06:52 woody No comments

    Works great, but you have to know when to use it.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • Microsoft releases KB 3092627 to fix bad patch MS15-084/KB 3076895

    Posted on September 2nd, 2015 at 06:46 woody 5 comments

    Replacing KB 3090303.

    At least that’s the only patch this Tuesday….

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • Has anybody used “GWX Stopper”?

    Posted on September 1st, 2015 at 04:59 woody 8 comments

    It sounds like an interesting product, but I’m skeptical (as always).

    Bogdan Popa wrote up GWX Stopper in Softpedia this morning. Has anybody out there tried it? I have a whole bunch of questions…

    Trying to track down the programmer, but I can’t find his email address anywhere.

  • Windows patch MS15-084/KB 3076895 breaks Symantec, IBM Tivoli, even Microsoft Forefront

    Posted on August 31st, 2015 at 16:37 woody 2 comments

    Yep, even Microsoft’s own product

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows