Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
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  • Windows 10 installation problems – and what to do about them

    Posted on October 8th, 2015 at 08:37 woody No comments

    Ever get a “Something Happened 0×80070005-0×90002” error?

    How about errors 0xC1900101-0×20017, -0×30018, or -0×20004?

    Some solutions exist.

    Wonder if you answered correctly when asked “Who owns this PC?” Any idea what the question means?

    Screw up your Windows 10 activation?

    Having trouble setting up a local account?

    Can’t get Windows Store to Start – or can’t even see the Start menu?

    You aren’t alone. See my latest article for InfoWorld.

    Credit: Becky Houtman, flickr, Oude Kerk (Amsterdam) bread wall art installation

  • MS-DEFCON 3: Patch Windows, but beware the snoops

    Posted on October 7th, 2015 at 10:27 woody 33 comments

    It’s time to get caught up with your Microsoft patches. The September Black Tuesday patches have festered, gone through a few re-releases, and generally stewed enough to warrant applying to your machine.

    If I count Susan Bradley’s list of patches correctly, there were 75 patches released for Vista, Win 7 and Win 8.1 in September, and another six — many of which are nagging or snooping patches — released so far in October.

    I don’t see any patches screaming to get out, as long as you aren’t using Internet Explorer. Of course, as I’ve been advising for a long time (a decade?), you should update IE but not use it. Instead, use Firefox or Chrome for your day-to-day browsing. If you have Windows 10, Edge is a secure choice, but it’s still way behind the ball on features – most Windows 10 users have moved to Chrome, for good reason.

    Here’s what I recommend:

    Vista – install all available updates.

    Windows 7 – This is hairy because of the snooping patches just re-re-released. Start by reading this article in InfoWorld, then search through your list of available patches (in Windows Update, see the tab above that says “Automatic Update” for instructions). If you see any of these patches: KB 3035583, KB 2952664, KB 2977759, KB 3068708, 3022345, 3075249, or 3080149, [UPDATE: or 3083324, which now appears to be "Important"] make sure they’re unchecked, right-click on the patch and “Hide” it. They’re all Win10 nags or telemetry patches. If you don’t see one or more of those patches, don’t worry about it. I have an article in the works that’ll show you how to turn off most Windows 7 telemetry.

    (If you’re double-checking with last month’s recommendations, note: I received official information back from Microsoft about those patches, and it was demonstrably incorrect and/or misleading.)

    After installing all outstanding patches, reboot, then immediately follow the instructions here to run the GWX Control Panel. That should turn off the Windows 10 upgrade nags. Reboot again.

    Windows 8.1 – Similar to Windows 7, but uncheck and hide KB 3035583, KB 2976978 KB 3068708, 3022345, 3075249, and 3080149. If you don’t see one or more of those patches, don’t worry about it. I have an article in the works that’ll show you how to turn off most Windows 8.1 telemetry. Reboot, use GWX Control Panel to remove the Windows 10 nagging software, and reboot again. If you have trouble getting KB 3069114 to install, try installing KB 3096053 and see if that helps.

    Windows 10 – If you’ve been using the metered connection trick to block Windows 10 updates, now’s a good time to turn off the metered connection and let the updates flow. (Start, Settings, Network & internet, Wi-Fi, click on your connection, then Advanced options, turn Metered Connection off. Let Windows do its update thing, then turn the metered indicator back on.) We’re up to Cumulative Update 7.

    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. Remember to turn the switch off again.

    If you have problems installing the Cumulative Update, don’t worry about it. Microsoft will get its act together one of these days. All of the Win10 patches to date are cumulative (with a couple of driver exceptions), so when Microsoft gets caught up, you will, too.

    We’re going down to MS-DEFCON 3: Patch reliability is unclear, but widespread attacks make patching prudent. Go ahead and patch, but watch out for potential problems. Specifically, I’m concerned about adding Windows 10 nagware and Microsoft snooping to Windows 7 and 8.1 machines. I’ll be following that closely in InfoWorld’s Woody on Windows.

    The usual admonitions apply: 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.

  • Yes, I’m mirroring on Facebook

    Posted on October 6th, 2015 at 16:44 woody 5 comments

    Several of you use Facebook all the time – and FB is becoming the news source for a lot of people. So, with my wife’s help, I’m dipping my toe in the Facebook neighborhood. (Actually, I’ve been on Facebook for years, but only for family stuff – and not very frequently.)

    Anyway, if you’re on Facebook, drop by and give it a gander. Or search for “AskWoody.”

  • Microsoft re-releases Windows telemetry “snooping” and Win10 nagging patches, including KB 3035583 and 2952664

    Posted on October 6th, 2015 at 16:35 woody 13 comments

    They’re baaaaaaack.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • More updates streaming out of Redmond

    Posted on October 6th, 2015 at 13:24 woody 4 comments

    I just got a heads-up from reader KR that Microsoft was suddenly pushing out KB 3035583 (again) on Windows 7 systems. That “patch” you may recall is the one that delivers that wonderful ad for Windows 10.

    Ends up that KB 3035583 was pushed out yesterday, Oct 5. Today, Oct 6, we also got 

    • Update for Windows 7 (KB2952664)
    • Update for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (KB2976978)
    • Update for Windows 7 (KB2977759)
    • Update for Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2 (KB3083710)
    • Update for Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 (KB3083711)

    I’ll check into them shortly. Remember, we’re still at MS-DEFCON 2. Sit tight.

  • What is a VPN good for?

    Posted on October 5th, 2015 at 13:01 woody 2 comments

    Just got this question from reader J:

    I need some advice. With all the hacking going on around us (two members of my family received scam emails from friends or relatives whose computers were hacked), I’ve been considering signing up with a VPN service. What’s your take on these? Are they worth it? And, if so, which one would you recommend? If not, is there anything else that would help with cybersafety?

    VPNs are good for cloaking your access to web sites, but they won’t do much to help with hacked emails.
    Best thing to minimize the amount of infected email that you receive is to use a Hotmail or Gmail account. They both devote enormous resources to filtering out bad mail.
    You’re using Apple’s, which is well filtered too.
    None of them are infallible. You have to keep on your toes, and not click anything unless you know what it is, and that the person who sent you the mail knows that they sent it!
  • Stealthy Microsoft Surface Pro 3 firmware update on Sept 29 brings BSODs, miscellaneous mayhem

    Posted on October 5th, 2015 at 06:57 woody No comments

    That makes 19 separate firmware updates for the Surface Pro 3 in the past 15 months

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • Time to upgrade Win 8.1 to 10?

    Posted on October 3rd, 2015 at 03:08 woody 31 comments

    Got a good message from reader JS:

    I have 8.1 and use the old style desktop and a mouse (one of the dozen out there). If I go to 10, will I still be able to set up the desktop more or less the way I have it and, more importantly for me, will I still be able to use Window Live Mail (I know, but I’m used to it and really like it)? Thanks for all you do. You’re a life-saver.

    Long answer short, if you use 8.1 and a mouse, yeah, you’ll want Windows 10 – although I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to install it.
    Windows Mail in Win10 was horrible when it first shipped, but it’s getting better. I’m not seeing nearly as many reports of crashes.
    Windows Live Mail is a horse of a different color. You can run it under Win10, but it’s getting very long in the tooth. Instructions here:
    Hope that helps.
    By the by… I’m thinking about adding a real Q&A section to AskWoody, probably implement it immediately after the makeover. A real forum would be a lot easier than answering emails one-by-one, and choosing some to post – something I’ve done for many years.
    Any suggestions? Formats you like?