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  • Windows 7 “SP2” convenience update rollup under examination

    Posted on June 4th, 2016 at 07:01 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    As most of you know, I’ve had no end of frustration with KB 3125574, the Windows 7 “Service Pack 2” that Microsoft calls a “convenience update rollup.”

    An email I received just pointed me to a tremendous detailed analysis of the “SP2” rollup, what’s wrong with it, and how to fix it. Here’s how it starts:

    This document contains detailed information about issues that end users are experiencing with Convenience rollup update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

    These issues are not a result of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation; they’re real issues that degrade the experience of the rollup…

    The rollup doesn’t include the following optional feature packs, but it does contain their updated components (which were previously released as individual hotfixes or updates):

    Platform Update KB2670838, Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0/8.1, Windows Management Framework 4.0, Work Folders, DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0, Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services, Remote Server Administration Tools, Virtual PC, Server Essentials Connector, Active Directory Federation Services,

    KB2483177 Desktop Experience Decoder Update for Windows Server 2008 R2.

    This means that the user needs to install those feature packs first (before rollup) so that the updated components contained in the rollup get installed when it’s installed afterwards.
    This should eliminate all their individual updates released before the rollup.

    And it follows with a detailed description of exactly what is and isn’t in “SP2.” Right off the bat, the poster — who identifies himself as Abbodii, PointZero, Komm – explains why SFC /scannow burps on an SP2-updated machine.

    The post is couched as a request to Microsoft engineering, to take a look at the problem and fix it. Abbodii recommends that Microsoft put together one small hotfix that fixes three of the problems in “SP2.” That hotfix could be constructed so it need be run just once, right after installing “SP2.”

    Those of you who are knee-deep in “SP2” – could you take a look and tell me what you think? I’m going to try to put together a simple how-to for InfoWorld — one that any Win7 user can follow.

  • The Win 7 “SP2” convenience rollup KB 3125574 might actually be worthwhile

    Posted on May 27th, 2016 at 13:14 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    This just in from Noel Carboni:

    I now have a test Win 7 virtual machine on which I’ve installed the “convenience rollup update”, KB3125574.

    Rather than start with a clean setup I chose a Win 7 system that was up to date as of January 14, had been set to do manual updates only, and was configured for maximum privacy (e.g., settings were tweaked, telemetry jobs were disabled, etc.).   The system also had several updates hidden.

    These are the Windows Updates I had hidden on that system before installing the “convenience rollup update”.  They include GWX and telemetry, as well as the Windows Genuine Advantage update from years ago.

    • KB2952664 (diagnostics to determine whether the system will be compatible with Win 10)
    • KB3021917 (determines if performance issues will be encountered if upgrading to Win 10 and sends telemetry)
    • KB3035583 (GWX)
    • KB3068708 (Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry)
    • KB3080149 (Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry)
    • KB3123862 (Updated capabilities to upgrade Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 [to Win 10])
    • KB971033 (Update for Windows Activation Technologies)

    I have some uncommon software that allows me to see what communications are being attempted, and I can verify that this particular setup was completely quiet before the update.

    The idea here is to see whether installing the “convenience rollup update” could be useful with an existing system that’s both up-to-date or mostly so, and which had experienced some Windows Update slowness before.

    Today I installed the “convenience rollup update” from the catalog .msu file downloaded from Microsoft.

    I’m monitoring the communications carefully.  Afterward, so far, I haven’t heard an new peeps out of the telemetry software.

    I checked the various scheduled jobs and whatnot.  Pro-privacy configuration changes I had made were left in place, and disabled jobs were left disabled – which surprised me a bit given Microsoft’s recent moves.  Maybe the folks who are doing Windows 7 updates at Microsoft aren’t all bad.  Yet.

    This is good news so far; it hints that this “convenience rollup” update really might be worth using.  However, I’ve only been monitoring it for a few hours after the installation.  It needs to be running for some days (and especially overnight) before I can say with any confidence whether it’s staying quiet.   I’ll let you know if I detect anything out of the ordinary.

    Other observations:

    I tried a manually-initiated Windows Update.   It took a few minutes, then failed with hex error.  However, a notification pop-up came up shortly thereafter claiming an update was available.  I think the error may have happened because it was checking on its own after I had started the Windows Update service, and my manually initiated check couldn’t start up a second instance.

    When I clicked on the notification pop-up, this update was the only one listed as available:

    • KB971033

    After the update, this reduced list is now shown as still hidden:

    • KB3021917 (determines if performance issues will be encountered if upgrading to Win 10 and sends telemetry)
    • KB3035583 (GWX)
    • KB3068708 (Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry)
    • KB3080149 (Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry)

    As mentioned above, KB971033 is an update from years ago that will actively check to see whether Microsoft wants to deactivate your license.  I use only legitimately licensed software, but I can imagine any number of things could go wrong with that, so as a matter of course I always hide it on all my Win 7 systems.

    It was a bit of a surprise that only that update showed up as available.  What I don’t know is whether they’re trying to tell me that KB971033 must go in before I can see any other updates, or whether there just aren’t any more right now that are not included in the convenience package.  If this update is now required, that represents a change, as it has never been required before.

    Experimentation and observation continues…

    [Woody again… I had a horrible time starting with a clean Win7 SP1 and running the rollup – hours and hours of delays, odd behavior. I’ll try to write it up at some point, but my top priority right now is the second edition of Win10 All-In-One For Dummies — a Herculean task.]

     

  • What’s really happening with the Win7 “SP2” update KB 3125574

    Posted on May 23rd, 2016 at 14:28 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I’ve done a squeaky-clean install of Win7 SP1 (the official copy from the MSDN site).

    Went to the Microsoft Update Catalog site, to download KB 3125574.

    Golly, the Update Catalog site doesn’t work with IE 8. So I opened IE 8 and upgraded to IE 11.

    I tried again, but the Update Catalog site didn’t like my copy of IE 11, either.  In the end, the ActiveX control for the Catalog wouldn’t install. So, following the instructions on the KB 3125574 page, I downloaded KB 3020369 directly and installed it

    I then went to the direct download link for “SP2” for 64-bit versions of Windows 7, downloaded 3125574 and installed it.

    A day after I started, I got notification that Windows was installing 1 of 1 updates. Many hours later (hey, a guy’s gotta sleep) the installation was done and I rebooted.

    These updates – and ONLY these updates – are installed:

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3125574)

    Security Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3123479)

    User-Mode Driver Framework v111 (KB2685813)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB971033)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3063109)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB3020369)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2888049)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2882822)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2834140)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2786081)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2731771)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2729094)

    Hotfix for Microsoft Windows (KB2639308)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2533623)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2670838)

    Internet Explorer 11

    Microsoft Windows English Spelling Package

    Microsoft Windows English Hyphenation Package

    Hotfix for Microsoft Windows (KB2534111)

    Update for Microsoft Windows (KB976902)

    That’s it. No 3035583, no GWX, not much garbage. Those of you with hate lists of “bad” patches might want to check and see which of these are offensive in your part of the universe.

    Investigation continues.

    t/h to Anonymous for proofreading this list!

  • Testing Windows 7 SP2

    Posted on May 18th, 2016 at 15:39 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Good question from CA:

    Hi Woody,

    KB3123862 reappeared on one of my machines this afternoon (optional, unchecked). We need to be forever vigilant.

    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3123862

    Well, I have to ask — will you be testing the Win 7 “convenience rollup” (AKA SP2) to see if it includes Win 10 nagware. It’s pretty much a given that it’ll include the spyware/telemetry patches (e.g. KB2952664, KB2977759, etc.)

    If not, maybe I can find the time next week to build a sacrificial machine and install a clean Win 7 Pro SP1 and then the rollup.

    I also have concerns with the monthly rollup patches. Will MS sneak nagware into these? Can we trust MS? The one below looks OK:

    May 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3156417

    You bet. I’m testing it on many of my Win7 PCs but, more importantly, I’m watching what other people say about the SP2 patch.

    It’s obvious that SP2 installs the snooping patches and the ones that are primarily concerned with greasing the update client to make it easier to install Win10. I haven’t been able to check out a completely clean install of Win7 SP2 to see which patches get installed – and I hope somebody comes up with a definitive list, so we can compare.

    What surprised me is that SP2 does NOT install KB 3035583. It does NOT install the GWX subsystem.

    It’s not clear if my machines were spared because they had GWX Control Panel-set registry settings. But I do know that SP2 did NOT override those settings. Microsoft is playing by its own rules of engagement.

    If the snooping patches get installed in their full glory, then people need to make a choice: Do they accept the snooping – realizing that it’s no worse than snooping many of us take for granted nowadays (e.g., by using the Chrome browser, or running a Chromebook, or an Amazon Echo, or a Siri-enabled iPhone or iPad) – or do they accept the fact that they’re sending info to Microsoft and move on?

    It’s not an easy question to answer, especially for folks who are accustomed to Microsoft asking for permission to send data to the mother ship. (Remember Dr Watson?) But it’s important, to me, that people make an informed decision. That’s what I’m fighting for.

  • Notes on the Microsoft reorg

    Posted on July 12th, 2013 at 20:09 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    This also just in from EP:

     I read your recent article on the “reorganization” of Microsoft here:
    http://www.infoworld.com/t/microsoft-windows/the-new-microsoft-how-the-reorg-will-affect-you-222491
    I guess after the reorg of Microsoft, that would put the creation of a
    Windows 7 Service Pack 2 in major jeopardy as it’s been more than 2
    years since Microsoft released Windows 7 Service Pack 1.  Looks like MS
    doesn’t seem to have any current plans of making a Win7 SP2.  It would have been nice if MS attempted to implement USB 3.0 in Windows 7 via SP2.

    ************

    I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in Death Valley that MS will ever release a Win7 SP2. Too bad, really, because I know a lot of people (present company included) who plan to use Win7 for a long, long time.