Posted on January 17th, 2017 at 10:25 111 comments
Here’s my contribution to fake news. You’ve read the headline. This is what you haven’t read.
Microsoft Deutschland recommends timely changeover to Windows 10 for a secure and modern IT… One of the most successful operating systems from Microsoft is gradually approaching the end of its life cycle : the extended support of Windows 7 will be completed in three years. This means for all customers with Windows 7 PCs that from January 14, 2020 there will be no security updates, updates and no technical support from Microsoft. .. it provides for higher operating costs – for example, maintenance, lost working time due to increased malware attacks, or even increased support requests. At the same time, many hardware manufacturers no longer provide drivers for Windows 7, which means that modern peripherals such as printers are no longer recognized.
We’ve heard all of that before, and it isn’t any more true now than it was a year ago.
Windows 10 has its benefits. I use it all day, every day, and I’ve written two 1,000-page books on the topic. I’ve come to terms with its insistence on updating things when I least want them, and its ill-defined snooping proclivities. But Win10 isn’t for everybody, and scare tactics like this don’t do anything for Microsoft’s credibility.
I think Win7 is going to be around a lot longer than the author of this PR release.
UPDATE: Günter Born, whom many of you will recognize as a highly respected German blogger, has an excellent article you should read. He cites a CERT report that argues quite convincingly that Windows 7 + EMET is more secure than Win 10 without EMET. And the conclusions he draws are not the Win 10 happy-happy conclusions in the PR release.
He also notes that Microsoft Germany has yanked the original PR report.
Posted on January 2nd, 2017 at 07:24 247 comments
A series of steps you can take now, to keep Win7 in top shape.
Includes details on installing a fresh copy.
InfoWorld Woody on Windows
Posted on November 22nd, 2016 at 05:44 214 comments
When I wrote in InfoWorld about the Windows 7 and 8.1 “patchocalypse” – last month’s abrupt change in the way Microsoft patches Win7 and 8.1 – I described two groups. I called them “Group A” and “Group B” (imaginative, eh?). In broad terms:
- Those in Group A are willing to take all of Microsoft’s new telemetry systems, along with potentially useful nonsecurity updates.
- Those in Group B don’t want any more snooping than absolutely necessary, and they don’t care about improvements like daylight saving time zone changes, but want to keep applying security patches.
I also described the hold-outs:
A third group, Group W, doesn’t want anything from Microsoft — no patches, no security updates, nada. I don’t recommend that you sit on the Group W bench, but it can be understood given changes Microsoft has made to Win7 and 8.1 machines, without our permission, in the past.
Since that time, I’ve written a lot of words about Group A and Group B. There are procedures, and nuances, for both. But I’ve generally avoided writing about Group W (named in homage to Arlo Guthrie; some people call it Group C). There’s a reason why.
I have a recurring nightmare – no, really – where somebody comes up with a really pernicious piece of malware that knocks out unpatched Win 7 and 8.1 machines, even when the owners of those machines are super-cautious. I’m talking about responsible Group W benchers who use alternative browsers (Firefox, Chrome), never click on anything that looks remotely dicey, and religiously run both antivirus programs and periodic antimalware scans.
I would never forgive myself for recommending a course of action that puts a big swath of Windows 7 users in harm’s way. After all, Windows 7 still accounts for about half of all PC use world-wide, and it’s likely to continue to be the dominant desktop operating system for years to come.
I’m convinced that Group A (Monthly rollup) and Group B (Security-only updates) are viable alternatives, but there’s a lurking demon in the Group B closet. If we ever get a bad bug in a Security-only update, and that bug is fixed in a non-security Monthly rollup, all bets are off. If Microsoft breaks something in a Security-only patch, they need to fix it in a Security-only patch. Otherwise, those who only install Security-only patches are going to end up with bug-infested systems.
I’ve fretted over this problem in many of my InfoWorld blogs these past two months. In fact, we’ve already seen a minor example, where a Security-only update bug in MS16-087 was fixed in a non-security part of a Monthly rollup. Microsoft documents it here:
As best I can tell, that bug hasn’t been fixed in a Group B Security-only update. It may never be fixed in a Security-only update. That means someone who sticks to Group B and only installs Security-only updates will have the flaw in MS16-087 forever.
That’s simply inexcusable, even if the bug only affects a small number people in an esoteric way, even if Microsoft has documented complex manual fix instructions.
So we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, Group B seems like an excellent approach for those who don’t want Microsoft’s Windows 7 snooping enhancements. On the other hand, if Microsoft can’t fix its own mistakes in Group B, there’s nothing you or I can do about it.
With that as background, I’ve asked Canadian Tech – who slogs through these problems with hundreds of users – to repeat a recommendation he’s made many times:
It now appears that B is an impractical strategy for 99% of users. And, here is the reason why: When an error is made in a security-only update, if the error turns out not to have a security affect, it may be corrected in a non-security update. In that case if you were following B strategy, you would be left with an un-corrected defective update installed on your computer. If you were extremely diligent and knew about it, you may be able to get the correction in specific cases. This would entail an extreme amount of diligence that few would be willing or able to provide.
The new rollup style of updates that Microsoft is now providing to what we would call Group A, which include all kinds of updates (security and non-security), are cumulative. That means if you miss a month or even more, it will not matter because by installing the latest month’s rollup, you would be up to date.
NOTE well, that Security-only updates are NOT cumulative. Which means if you miss a month, you may never get the missed updates.
So one strategy that you may wish to consider is following Group C, but still updating .net and Microsoft Office through Windows Update, but installing no Windows updates at all. It would be advisable in this case that you stop using Internet Explorer because you would not be getting those updates, but instead use an alternative browser.
Then, after following this strategy for some time, if things take a turn for the worse, and you decide you made the wrong choice (Group C with .net an Office updates), you can easily shift to A by simply using the latest offered Rollup offered in Windows Update.
So, as things have evolved, it looks like the vast majority have really only two choices: A as described above or C (modified as described above). The good news is that if you follow the modified C strategy, you have a way back to the Microsoft way, that is easy to implement.
There’s been an extensive discussion of Canadian Tech’s advice on the “Malwarebytes stumbles with false positive on KB 3197868, the Win7 November Monthly Rollup” post. Unfortunately, WordPress makes it very difficult to move comments from that post to this post, so I would ask those of you with strong opinions to please restate them (or copy and paste them) into the comments here.
Posted on September 12th, 2016 at 05:31 9 comments
Cutting through a bewildering array of options.
InfoWorld Woody on Windows
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?
Posted on August 25th, 2016 at 07:37 25 comments
I’ve seen reports of hundreds of GB of junk files maxing out big hard drives. Microsoft knows all about the problem, but hasn’t deigned to fix it.
InfoWorld Woody on Windows
Many thanks to our own ch100
Posted on August 9th, 2016 at 08:54 220 comments
OK, they’re tedious, but they’re simple and easy to follow.
Go from many hours to just a few minutes.
InfoWorld Woody on Windows
My thanks — and deep admiration — to Dalai, ch100, and EP.
IMPORTANT: I forgot to mention one patch, KB 3020369, that also needs to be installed. Chances are very good you already have it, but if not, check the KB article to download and install it.
UPDATE: I’m seeing reports that the July “magic” patch, KB 3168965, works for August, too. My current best guess is that it works for those who haven’t already installed the July patches.
UPDATE 2: Dalai has updated the wu.krelay.de page to feature KB 3177725, the new “magic” August patch.
UPDATE 3: Ends up that this month’s “magic” August patch, KB 3177725, has a bug in it that screws up printing multiple pages. Details coming in InfoWorld. For now, just relax. There’s nothing in August’s patches (or even July’s!) that’s super-critical.
Posted on May 9th, 2016 at 06:08 30 comments
Michael Horowitz at Computerworld echoes a sentiment we’ve been debating for far too long.
Posted on May 1st, 2016 at 16:21 24 comments
I always take the numbers with a bag of salt, but…
According to Gregg Keizer at Computerworld, Net Applications says that Chrome now leads IE in usage, with 41.7% vs 41.4%.
According to Emil Protalinski at VentureBeat, Net Applications says that. among Windows users, Win10 is at 14%, Win 8 and 8.1 are at 12%, Win 7 is down to 49%, and XP hits 10%. Vista and older versions account for 4%.
That means Win8+8.1 is actually up compared to last month. You really can’t trust these numbers very much.
Protalinski gives some back-of-the-envelope analysis of Microsoft’s Win10 numbers – 275 million Monthly Active Users as last disclosed – but you need to keep in mind that Microsoft and Net Applications measure two completely different sets. Microsoft’s MAU should say how many individuals are using Windows 10 (although the definition is very much up in the air). Net Application relies on a count of hits on web sites that’s modified based on geographical location.
UPDATE: Simon Sharwood of The Reg is out with his analysis. I’m not sure how the numbers support his conclusion that ” it looks like business is slowing its adoption of Windows 10,” but it’s a provocative thought nonetheless.
Win10 = 14 to 18%
Win7 = 45 to 49%
Win8+8.1 = 9 to 14%
XP = 8 to 10%
There are also notes all over the web that talk about how Net Applications didn’t bother to separate out IE from Edge. Speculation runs rampant that Edge adoption is so low it’s little more than a roundoff error.