Woody Leonhard's no-bull news, tips and help for Windows and Office
Home icon Home icon Home icon Email icon RSS icon
  • It’s time to get Windows, Office, Net, and the others updated

    Posted on December 31st, 2016 at 10:16 woody 41 comments

    Compleat step-by-step instructions for the faint hearted.

    InfoWorld Woody on Windows

  • How to roll back a bad driver update

    Posted on December 30th, 2016 at 08:09 woody 53 comments

    I’m seeing complaints all over the web from people who installed a bad Windows driver update. Typically, they ran Windows Update earlier this month and checked the box next to an Optional update that looked like:

    INTEL – System – 1/4/2013 12:00:00 AM – 0.0.0.1

    Intel – System – 3/13/2016 12:00:00 AM – 11.0.0.1010

    INTEL – System – 8/19/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.1.2.80

    INTEL – System – 10/3/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.1.1.38

    Realtek Semiconduct Corp. – USB – 5/17/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.0.10586.31225

    and several others. Installing those driver updates (which look like patches without KB numbers) has been blamed for various ills (i.a., see this Reddit thread), including touchpad failures, USB port failures, reports of missing system files, blue screens… the usual halt and catch fire stuff.

    The usual admonition applies: Ain’t broke, don’t fix. If you discover that you have one of these updates installed, and you aren’t experiencing any odd problems, don’t touch anything.

    If something doesn’t work right…

    If you can’t get back into your computer, your best bet is to roll back to a restore point, if you have one. (There’s a good explanation by Walter Glenn at How-To Geek.)

    If you can get into your computer, and you suspect an Intel system driver is at fault, the safest approach is to download and run the Intel Driver Update Utility. As Intel says:

    Intel provides generic versions of drivers for general purposes. Your computer manufacturer may have altered the features, incorporated customizations, or made other changes to your driver. Intel recommends you contact your computer manufacturer for the latest system specific updates and technical support information.

    Of course, the drivers installed by Windows Update are generic versions, so you aren’t going to dig yourself into a deeper hole by running the Intel Driver Update Utility.

    If you suspect a driver other than the Intel system driver, your first course of attack should be rolling back the bad driver. Here’s how.

    Step 1. Get into Device Manager. There are quick ways to do that in each Windows version, but it’s simplest to just type Device Manager in the Start search (or Cortana) box.

    Step 2. Find the bad driver. If you’re trying to roll back the Realtek USB driver, look under Mice and other pointing devices, then Realtek PCIE Card Reader. Video drivers are under Display Adapters.

    Step 3. Roll back. Click the Driver tab then click the button marked Roll Back Driver. You’ll likely have to restart your machine.

    If that doesn’t fix the problem, follow the procedure again but in Step 3 click Update Driver and pray that Windows can find a driver for your computer that works.

    There are lots of third party tools that help you maintain drivers. I don’t use any of them, but if you have good experiences with one of them, feel free to post here.

    Some folks hide the offensive updates. I generally don’t recommend that you hide unwanted updates in Win7 and 8.1. Just ignore them.

    With Windows 10, the updating takes place automatically when you “check” for updates – so to be sure, run wushowhide to block any pernicious driver updates. If you’re on version 1607, the Anniversary Update, there’s a better way to block Driver updates, fully explained by Shawn Brink on TenForums (thanks, b).

    Then tattoo this inside your eyelids: DON’T install Optional Windows patches.

  • MS-DEFCON 3: Cautiously update Windows and Office

    Posted on December 29th, 2016 at 12:29 woody 230 comments

    It’s been a difficult month for Windows patches. If you’ve been following along here you know about:

    And those are just the highlights.

    I count nearly a hundred Office patches this month, for Office 2003 (!), 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Microsoft lists just one known bug in Word

    Customers have reported that automatic saving of files doesn’t always function, resulting in loss of data and other work… We’re aware of this issue and are investigating it. When we have more information, we’ll provide it here.

    There are fixes or workaround for other acknowledged bugs in Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

    Anyway, enough time has elapsed that I think we know about the major problems, and it’s time to get Windows and Office patched.

    I’ll post these instructions in InfoWorld on Monday, but for now, here’s the gist of it.

    If you have Win7 or 8.1 Automatic Update set to “Never” or “Check but don’t download,” it’s time to get your system patched. If you have Win10 and you followed one of the many paths to blocking forced updates, now would be a good time to release the blocks and let Windows Update do its thing.

    Those of you who haven’t updated Windows 7 or 8.1 since the patchocalypse in October need to decide if you’re in Group A (those who will take all the changes Microsoft has to offer, telemetry-laden or not) or in Group B (you only want security updates).

    Once you’ve made that decision, follow the steps outlined in “How to cautiously update Windows 7 and 8.1 machines.” (Be aware that article is more than a little controversial. You can see much of the debate on AskWoody.com.)

    For those in Group B, the update you want from the Microsoft Catalog is as follows:

    One important caveat: Do NOT install any optional drivers. As ch100 noted earlier today:

    I can say with a degree of certainty that the Chipset drivers being pushed are related to improving chances of a successful Windows 7/8.1 upgrade in place to Windows 10. They are Windows 10 compatible and there is no other reason to install Windows 10 drivers on a lower version of Windows, when the current drivers are functional.

    On the other hand, if you hit a Recommended driver, you should probably install it.

    The instructions for Group A and Group B take you through the process of checking for updates (including driver updates), for Office patches and for .NET security patches. Although there’s a problem with one of the pieces of one of the .NET patches, it appears to be limited to Windows 8.1 machines running SQL Server. I’d guess that very few of you fall into that category.

    If you’re on the Windows 10 side of the fence, follow the steps in “Woody’s Win10Tip: Apply updates carefully.”

    If you hit any problems, hit me in the comments!

    Next month’s going to be interesting. We bid a (fond??) farewell to the Security Bulletin system, and ring in a new ring of hand wringing. Oh boy.

  • Windows 7 getting pushed a Windows 10 driver update

    Posted on December 28th, 2016 at 21:38 woody 25 comments

    I think the patching world is totally bonkers. But you knew that already. Just got an email from JNP with this screenshot:

    pushed-realtek-usb-driver

    and I don’t know what to make of it. That’s a Windows 10 driver – released in mid-May – for the Realtek USB card reader 2.0. According to Drivermax, the Windows 7 version of the driver, version 10.0.14393.31231, was released on Oct 27, 2016. [Important note: I do NOT recommend that you download or install drivers from third parties.]

    Why is a Win10 driver being pushed on a Win7 machine?

    JNP continues:

    When you click on the more info you get to this page: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/products/windows?os=windows-7 , which is the same page I got last week with those bogus updates. My fear here, is that, for some reason, WU is erroneously pushing Win 10 updates to lower OS machines. It may be true the machine could use an updated driver, that kind of makes sense regarding my post my notebook needed the USB driver, but the version numbers I wrote about in my post for the USB driver are really, really off.

    As I’ve written before, my profession was as an attorney, so all I can do is try to research something and apply logic. After that, your more experienced software guys, like ch100, have to figure out what’s going on. But right now, it seems as if WU may have gotten the video drivers right, or kind of right, but there may be problems with the other drivers, USB, touchpad, etc. that some people are experiencing because WU may be giving them Win 10 updates for drivers when their OS is not Win 10.

  • What’s going on with the “INTEL – System” patches?

    Posted on December 28th, 2016 at 03:57 woody 85 comments

    I’ve seen a long line of complaints about Windows Update’s patches called “INTEL – System” followed by a date and time. My original beef was with “INTEL – System – 8/19/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.1.2.80.” As I described in my InfoWorld post last week, Günter Born tore apart that patch and concluded that they installed “null” (do-nothing) drivers as placeholders for different motherboard components. He also warns against installing the patches – which are coming down the Automatic Update chute.

    Since then, there have been many reports of another INTEL – System driver, this one “INTEL – System – 10/3/2016 12:00:00 AM – 10.1.1.38” and a wide variety of driver updates have appeared, documented here.

    Poster jmwoods here made some more experiments, looking inside those patches, and another “INTEL – System” patch, dated 3/13/2016. Here’s what he reports:

    Set up a test environment, installed the 2 new Intel driver updates, and ran DISM to get the list of all drivers for the online OS…

    dism /online /get-drivers /all /format:table > “%userprofile%\Desktop\drivers.txt”

    The output will be created in the file “drivers.txt” on your desktop.

    The Intel driver INF files affected…by date –

    3/13/16 –

    iccwdt.inf – version 11.0.0.1010

    8/19/2016 –

    haswellsystem.inf – version 10.1.2.80
    lynxpointsystem.inf – version 10.1.2.80

    10/3/2016 –

    haswellsystem.inf – version 10.1.1.38
    lynxpointsystem.inf – version 10.1.1.38

    (appears to be a rollback)

    He also speculates:

    Could have something to do with this big list of bugs for 4th Gen Haswell chipsets…

    http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/specification-updates/4th-gen-core-family-desktop-specification-update.pdf

    See the Errata section.

    ch100 has speculated that the patches might be related to the Bluetooth problems with the KB 3172605 patch – the key July speed-up patch.

    http://www.infoworld.com/article/3136677/microsoft-windows/how-to-speed-up-windows-7-update-scans-forever.html

    He also speculates that:

    It may also mean that those somehow newer drivers can facilitate a better upgrade experience from lower versions of Windows to Windows 10 by having dual compatibility. Just speculation, I don’t know about anything documented in that sense.

    So my question is… does anybody know what’s going on? It took Microsoft more than a year to fix the driver/firmware bugs in the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, and that debacle is widely attributed to bugs in the 2015-vintage Skylake chipset. Are we seeing something similar for the older (2013) Haswell chipsets? If so, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the recently announced Kaby Lake chips, which will be at the center of a new round of Windows PCs that are just appearing on the market.

  • December Security-Only patch breaks Active Directory Admin Center console when editing object’s properties

    Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 14:32 woody 43 comments

    This from commenter Paul:

    Did the security only update (KB3205394) break anyone else’s applications? In an enterprise environment, it broke AD Admin Center console when trying to edit any object’s properties, and it also broke SCCM consoles. Removing just this patch resolved both situations

    I haven’t seen anything, but it’s been a wild month for obscure problems.

    Anybody out there notice anything?

    UPDATE from Paul, over on the other thread:

    We do test them… Which is why we found this out when it only affected 4 PCs, instead of 4,000… And our users don’t utilize ADAC so they wouldn’t have been any help in this situation.

    It actually affects both Win7 and 10, as well as server 2012r2 from what I’ve seen.

  • Merry Christmas – Happy Hannukah

    Posted on December 25th, 2016 at 04:51 woody 40 comments

    christmasAnd a very sincere “thank you” to all of you who keep this site rolling.

  • Two thumbs down: Capossela’s explanation of the Get Windows 10 debacle

    Posted on December 24th, 2016 at 07:32 woody 254 comments

    The blogosphere is abuzz with reflections on Chris Capossela’s explanation of what happened with the “Get Windows 10” debacle. An anonymous poster here pointed me to an ExtremeTech post by Joel Hruska which has several pertinent comments.

    If you haven’t seen the video yet, the edited version of Windows Weekly 497 is here. In the first hour or so, Leo Laporte, Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley talk with Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Caposella. As usual, I saw it live on Wednesday. (The Windows Weekly live taping is always worth watching: Wednesdays 2:00 pm East Coast.)

    I didn’t write about Capossela’s comments about the “Get Windows 10” campaign in InfoWorld because it seems to me to be… I dunno… revisionist. Perhaps Capossela’s view represents the way Microsoft officially sees things. If so, it’s sad. Capossela says, in part (quoted by Hruska):

    We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective, but finding the right balance where you’re not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right, but there was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means you cancel didn’t mean cancel.

    And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have we knew that we had gone too far and then, of course, it takes some time to roll out the update that changes that behavior. And those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us. We learned a lot from it obviously.

    Which is either patently absurd or confirmation that this part of Microsoft is completely out of touch with its customers.

    Hruska goes on to state, quite rightly:

    The larger question is why Microsoft ever thought it would be ok to switch how the application functioned after 10 months. Either Capossela is lying about Microsoft’s internal discussion of the topic or Microsoft doesn’t allow criticism of its decisions to percolate high enough in the company to inform its executive teams. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that changing how the “Do not install Windows 10 on my computer” process would inevitably result in a great many unwanted upgrades. The claim that it takes weeks to test an update to Windows Update is disingenuous as well. First, Microsoft could’ve fallen back to the old, previously-approved update and pulled the malware-style version of Windows 10 immediately. The company allowed the situation to go on for several weeks because it wanted to push as many people as possible on to Windows 10.

    I really didn’t think Caposella’s confession was newsworthy, but there are reports springing up all over, so I’ll toss in my two cents. This from somebody who fought about “Get Windows 10” tooth and nail. Those of you who read AskWoody know all about it, already – you lived it out in real time.

    From my point of view, the whole episode with the Get Windows 10 campaign and the horse it rode in on, KB 3035583, was “malware-style,” from the beginning. My first report about the malware nature was twenty months ago, on Apr. 6, 2015:

    http://www.infoworld.com/article/2906002/operating-systems/mystery-patch-kb-3035583-for-windows-7-and-8-revealed-it-s-a-windows-10-prompter-downloader.

    If Microsoft had anything like a “listening system” in effect, they would’ve heard the screams starting Apr. 7. I sure did.

    Turning the “X” in the upper right corner into a “please upgrade my machine” symbol was just another in a long, long line of overbearing efforts. The fact that Terry Myerson promised in Oct. 2015 that

    You can specify that you no longer want to receive notifications of the Windows 10 upgrade through the Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 settings pages.

    rates, in my opinion, as one of the great lies of the whole campaign. The promise never came true, of course.

    The “Get Windows 10” campaign has done more to destroy Microsoft’s reputation than anything I’ve encountered – and I’ve been writing books about Microsoft products for almost 25 years. The current slump in Win10 adoption, in my opinion, can be traced directly to Microsoft’s heavy-handed jackboot GWX approach.

    I doubt that there’s a person on earth who doesn’t “know” that Windows 10 is “bad” because Microsoft forced it down their throats – and those of their Great Aunt Mabel, and their hairdresser’s pediatrician’s favorite radio commentator.

    You just can’t buy publicity that bad.

    Many of you, this holiday season, will be suffering the fallout.