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Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
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  • Turn off Windows Update if you want to force-feed individual patches

    Posted on April 29th, 2016 at 20:24 woody No comments

    Good note from DC:

    I like you assumed that standalone KB updates should install without running any Windows Update checks
    – however this doesn’t appear to be the case if you have the Windows Update service running and/or your internet connection open.
    If your Win7 system is suffering from the “frozen” Windows Update issue
    – and you want to manually install the two KB updates (3138612 & 3145739)
    – then you need to stop the Windows Update service (wuauserv) before attempting to run the MSU installer(s)
    – and also temporarily disconnect your internet connection.
    When you run the manually downloaded MSU installer it will attempt to open an internet connection via the Windows Update service – this then triggers the endless “Searching for Updates …” message. The MSU installer doesn’t require this internet check to proceed – but if available will fall into the same “hole” as the normal Windows Update system. If you prevent the connection it gives up on the “Searching for Updates ….” check after a few seconds and proceeds with the install. I assume this is because the MSU installer (Microsoft Update Standalone Package) is treated as part of the Windows Update family and attempts to “phone home” for advice – rather than accept you are calling the shots.
    If your Win7 system is suffering from the “frozen” Windows Update issue and you want to manually install the two KB updates (3138612 & 3145739)then you need to stop the Windows Update service (wuauserv) before attempting to run the MSU installer(s) and also temporarily disconnect your internet connection.
    When you run the manually downloaded MSU installer it will attempt to open an internet connection via the Windows Update service – this then triggers the endless “Searching for Updates …” message. The MSU installer doesn’t require this internet check to proceed – but if available will fall into the same “hole” as the normal Windows Update system. If you prevent the connection it gives up on the “Searching for Updates ….” check after a few seconds and proceeds with the install. I assume this is because the MSU installer (Microsoft Update Standalone Package) is treated as part of the Windows Update family and attempts to “phone home” for advice – rather than accept you are calling the shots.
  • Are you having trouble with Win7 patch KB 2952664 and Norton Identity Safe?

    Posted on April 29th, 2016 at 09:58 woody 8 comments

    Can you reproduce this? From reader TB:

    Windows 7 update kb2952664 has been around in several versions for about two years now. The latest came to me on 13 April 2016 – and it had a surprise inside!

    First, the routines and applications contained in this update all date from either March or April 2016 – it’s all new stuff.

    What’s REALLY new is that the Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser that’s installed seems to be more aggressive. I use Norton Antivirus and Identity Safe. These products don’t work with Microsoft’s Windows 10 browser, Edge and this is not new news. However, this update seems to take action: when I installed it, I could not access Identity Safe, even though I am running Windows 7. Apparently, the update modifies some of the code that Norton uses.

    Why am I so sure? This was the only update I installed. When I installed it, Norton’s toolbar told me to ‘Access Vault’ in the Identity Safe box. If I pressed on that button, I saw a message: ‘ Reboot needed’. I did that, and nothing changed. There was no way to access the Identity Safe vault. When I uninstalled the update, Identity Safe worked again, the same way as it did before.

    Determining what needs to be done and leaving flags for Windows 10 to use is one thing. Disabling software I paid for and should be able to use while I use Windows 7 is something else.

  • Does AVG Free crash Internet Explorer 11?

    Posted on April 29th, 2016 at 09:39 woody 3 comments

    Interesting question/observation from SH:

    A possible up and coming problem?

    A clients’ IE 11 was crashing on opening (Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit), would not even come up.  The user thinks this problem started ‘a couple of weeks ago…’. I tried opening in IE’s ‘safe’ mode, would still not open, was reporting some obscure error that when I Googled about it, didn’t find anything really meaningful

    Started Windows 7 in SAFE mode w/Networking, and it would open and go online. So, some driver or service that was firing up when Windows 7 was doing a full start up was causing the problem.

    After a number of other adventures with System Restore (to a black screen w/a mouse pointer), System Repair (failing), I finally got control of the system and started manually removing some software: the nVidia on-board driver and the latest version of AVG Free. After re-booting, IE 11 would open fine and go online, so it was either the video driver or AVG.

    I re-installed the video drivers and IE 11 still worked fine. I re-installed a fresh download of AVG Free and the problem was back, so I remove that again, and IE 11 was OK.

    I then Googled “AVG Free crashing Internet Explorer 11” with a time-frame of the last month, and finally came up with this ‘find’ at the following URL:

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/ie/forum/ie11-windows_7/internet-explorer-11-crashing-with-error/72797b56-75c6-4465-a337-d60935a06e30?auth=1

    The 1st part of this post has essentially the exact error that IE 11 was throwing (I didn’t write it down or take a screen shot…my frustration level was waaay too high). What the ‘fix’ boils down to is: remove AVG Free, and replace with some other A/V package (I used MS Security Essentials for my customer…maybe not the best, but it didn’t crash IE 11).

    So…a number of other people that posted on the forum in the URL are also having the same problem, so there’s something going on…maybe not an ‘epidemic’ yet, but could perhaps be a budding problem, as it’s not just with my client’s system.

    I have no idea if it’s something that MS has caused with some recent update, or is being caused by AVG Free

  • Cortana now restricted to Edge and Bing: It’s the clicks, stupid

    Posted on April 29th, 2016 at 08:28 woody 9 comments

    Likely the #1 way for Microsoft to make money off Windows 10.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows.

  • One advertisement is coming

    Posted on April 28th, 2016 at 17:16 woody 10 comments

    Just a heads-up for those of you who notice such things.

    I’ve run the AskWoody site for a couple of years without any advertising. It’s a way to say “thank you” to those of you who have been reading my stuff in InfoWorld, and buying my books.

    There’s a very important piece of software coming out in the next few weeks, and I’m going to put up an ad for it. It won’t be a cookie-laden thing, hiding in the shadows, lurking to pop under or pop over. It’ll be a full-on blog post.

    Feel free to read it or skip it, if you like, but for those of you who have asked if you can help in these efforts… yep, the time’s coming.

    I think you’ll like it. A lot.

  • MS-DEFCON 3: Get patches installed, but tread lightly, and roll back Office 2013 Click-to-Run

    Posted on April 28th, 2016 at 12:59 woody 48 comments

    With almost a hundred patches arriving since the last time I moved to MS-DEFCON 3 (March 16), the Windows and Office patching scene looks as daunting as ever. Microsoft didn’t release any patches on Tuesday of this week (the fourth Tuesday of the month is a traditional fur flying fest), so I’m feeling more confident that y’all have time to get things caught up. I suggest you do get caught up before the next round arrives – Office patches are due out on May 3, and heaven only knows if we’ll get a Windows 10 cumulative update before the next Patch Tuesday, May 10.

    This month, if you have Vista or Windows 7, you can spend hours and hours and hours waiting for Windows Update to run its course – or you can run out ahead of the insanity, by using the KB3138612 and KB3145739 scan speedup proposed here on AskWoody.com, and codified by poster EP.

    Here’s where we stand.

    Vista: If you haven’t yet followed the trick for speeding up Windows Update scans, use the method described in this InfoWorld article to first grease the skids. 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.

    Last month, I warned Vista users about KB 3139398 and KB 3139852, but the first appears to be good to go, and the second has already been superseded by KB 3145739 – so if you followed my directions earlier and installed KB 3145739 already, in order to speed up your scans, the old KB 3139852 won’t even appear.

    Windows 7: If you haven’t yet followed the trick for speeding up Windows Update scans, use the method described in this InfoWorld article to first grease the skids. Yes, that means you should install KB 3145739 manually.

    Step 1. 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. If you aren’t yet on IE 11, make sure the box marked “Install new versions automatically” is checked, then click Close. That’s the easiest way to upgrade to IE 11. There may be an IE 11 upgrade sitting in Windows Update (Start > Control Panel > System and Security > under Windows Update, click Check for updates). If so, keep it checked.

    I don’t recommend that you use IE. (Hey, Microsoft’s already put it out to pasture; that’s what Edge is all about.) But you need to update it, and keep it patched, because Windows still uses bits and pieces of IE in various places.

    Step 2. Run GWX Control Panel and set it to block OS upgrades.

    Step 3. 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.” Check the boxes next to items that say “Security Update,” but do NOT check the box for KB 3146706 – it’s probably unchecked anyway. (Yes, KB 3139398 is OK.) If you need to keep up with time zone changes in Oblast, Altai Republic or Zabaykalsky Krai, check the box for KB 3148851 and/or 971033. UNCHECK the boxes next to Important items that only say “Update.”

    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. If you uncheck the box next to “Upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, Version 1511, 10586 box.” Windows Update will check it again for you. Don’t be alarmed. GWX Control Panel will protect you.

    There’s a lot of debate about the advisability of installing the April Office patches, and it appears as if a couple of them have been pulled. Susan Bradley in her nearly-biblical Patch Watch column in Windows Secrets Newsletter (paywall) recommends that you install KB 3114566, KB 3114888, KB 3114993 and non-security patch KB 3114996, if any of those should appear. Personally, I’d skip the non-security patch, but I’m just ornery that way.

    Those of you attached to corporate networks need to be aware of some problems. The 3114996 KB article has a warning about the patch and Exchange Server. KB 3114941 is showing problems on some Lync 2013 (Skype for Business) and Outlook 2013 installations. For those of you who aren’t attached to a corporate network, you should be fine.

    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. Unless you want to look like Metinka Slater, the weather forecaster on Des Moines station KCCI, you need to run GWX Control Panel again. That’ll ensure Microsoft didn’t install anything untoward. (Note: GWX Control Panel has a “Monitor Mode” option. If you choose to use that option, you won’t need to run GWX Control Panel again – it’s already running. Personally, I don’t use Monitor Mode. I don’t like to leave anything running if I don’t have to. So I run GWX Control Panel manually, twice.)

    Windows 8.1: I haven’t heard of any appreciable Windows Update speed-up by using the KB3138612 and KB3145739 trick. Follow the instructions for Windows 7, but in Step 3 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. There have been lots and lots of reports with problems with the cumulative update KB 3147458 but they don’t appear to be any worse than usual. If you hit a problem, be sure to drop John Wink a line. This eleventh Win10 cumulative update should bring your version of Windows up to build 1511 OS version 10586.218 – what I like to call Windows 10.1.11.

    Office Click-to-Run: For the first time, I’m going to start including Office Click-to-Run in my MS-DEFCON ratings. There have been problems reported with Office 2013 Click-to-Run version 15.0.4815.1001. Microsoft recommends that you roll back to Office 2013 build 15.0.4805.1003. It’s not easy.

    For those of you using Click-to-Run, I would appreciate hearing about any problems you’ve found – and help me fill out this part of the MS-DEFCON advisory!

    Everybody: Either watch here on AskWoody.com, or follow me on Twitter (@woodyleonhard) or Facebook to keep up on the latest. Microsoft’s releasing patches at a breathtaking rate. It’s a jungle out there. And if you catch something, shoot me email (click on the mail icon in the upper right corner of this page), or post a reply to this blog.

    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.

    Thanks, as always, to Susan Bradley and her in-depth work in Windows Secrets Newsletter.

  • Microsoft (finally!) gets the bugs out of Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

    Posted on April 28th, 2016 at 07:08 woody 2 comments

    Microsoft’s billion-dollar hardware business now stands on a less-infested foundation.

    Excellent news for those of you who have – or are thinking about buying – Surface Books or Pro 4s.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows.

  • New Windows 10 beta build 14332 brings few changes, stellar marketing

    Posted on April 27th, 2016 at 07:33 woody 6 comments

    And if you remember Joe Belfiore’s penchant for scavenger hunts, you’ll surely recognize the Bug Bash.

    I’m absolutely convinced Joe put the pieces together before he left on sabbatical last November — or, at least, somebody’s created a fitting tribute.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows