Archive for Microsoft

PSA: Microsoft To Force Windows 10 Upgrades Upon Unsuspecting Users

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 2, 2016 by itnerd

If you thought Microsoft was aggressive about getting you to use Windows 10, they’re about to get even more aggressive.

Starting Monday, Windows Update will start making the upgrade to version 10 of the operating system a recommended update rather than an optional one. That means if you have automatic updates turned on, you’re getting Windows 10. To make things even easier, Windows 10 will be pre-selected. Sure you’ll have to click a bunch of dialog boxes to actually install it, but Microsoft has done a lot of the hard work for you.

How nice of them.

Another thing to note is that Microsoft will allow you to revert back to your previous OS within 30 days. But lets’ face facts. Microsoft’s desire to get Windows 10 onto as many PCs as it can is really rubbing people the wrong way. They seriously need to rethink this before users say to hell with Windows.

 

#Fail: Microsoft Edge Is Storing Your InPrivate Browsing History

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 29, 2016 by itnerd

If you run Windows 10 and you use the Edge Browser, you might want to think twice. You see, if you run it in InPrivate mode which is supposed to cover up your porn surfing activities used when you don’t want to leave a trace of your web browsing activity on your computer isn’t actually private at all. Security researcher Ashish Singh has discovered that, instead of wiping browsing data as soon as the private window is closed, the information is stored in the browser’s webcache file. In other words, anyone looking at the container_n table used to store web history will be able to see what sites you surfed to.

#fail.

Apparently Microsoft is aware of the issue and is working on a fix. But until that fix appears, you may want to use another browser if you want to do something that you don’t want others to know about.

Windows 10 Phone Seems To Be Rolling Out To Users

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 15, 2016 by itnerd

For those of you who have been waiting for Windows 10 phone, it appears that it rolling out to users. Lumia 640 owners in Poland have begun receiving the update, GSMArena reports, and I have seen reports on the Internet in other places getting this treatment. Now if you don’t want it, simply turn off automatic updates in System Settings.

If you’ve gotten Windows 10 on your phone, please leave a comment and share your thoughts on your experience with Windows 10 Phone.

Microsoft Windows 10 Upgrade Scheme Is Getting Even More Agressive

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 12, 2016 by itnerd

Microsoft’s approach to forcing you to you to install Windows 10 seems is really starting to get annoying. For example, I posted this story on how you can stop Windows 10 from updating your Windows 7/8.x system. But Woody Leonhard has written a story which you can read here that seems to suggest that simply doing what I suggested last week may not be enough:

Yesterday, my old friend and erstwhile co-author Ed Bott ran an article on ZDNet that explains how to change two different registry entries — AllowOSUpgrade and DisableGWX — to “block Windows 10 upgrades on your business network (and at home, too).”

Both approaches temporarily block the immediate threat of “Get Windows 10” by removing the GWX icon in the Win7 and Win8.1 system tray and by derailing some of the Windows 10 update programs that are currently installed. Neither approach, however, will remove background tasks that bring GWX back, reclaim the 3GB to 6GB of hidden installation files Microsoft may have surreptitiously stored in the $Windows.~BT folder, nor will they keep your system protected if future Microsoft-initiated GWX attacks similar to the old ones occur again.

In short, Microsoft seems to be running an application in the background that undoes whatever changes you make to stop Microsoft’s GWX process from shoving Windows 10 onto your system. That implies that Microsoft is investing significant amounts of time and effort to find new and creative ways to force you to upgrade to Windows 10. Now, how does one know there are background tasks running that undo attempts to block Windows 10? Here’s the proof from Josh Mayfield, the inventor of GWX Control Panel which you can use to stop this nonesense from happening…. At least for a time:

  • The DisableGWX value, which GWX Control Panel has been setting since version 1.0, does one thing, and one thing only: When the scheduled GWX.EXE task runs, it checks for that registry value, and if it’s set, GWX.EXE quits itself. That’s how you remove the icon from your notification area. but this doesn’t do anything about the several background tasks that Microsoft installs along with GWX.EXE.
  • Beginning in version 1.3 of GWX Control Panel, I’ve included additional logic to help people whose Windows Update control panels get hijacked by Windows 10. Version 1.4 and beyond can even rescue you from an already-initiated unwanted Windows 10 upgrade.
  • As your own AskWoody.com visitors (and mine) have confirmed many times over by now, KB3035583 needs to be rehidden each time Microsoft pushes a new version. If you don’t want to install it, and if you happen to get more than one version installed, uinstalling it no longer gets rid of the update. (I walk through this in more detail in my troubleshooting guide.) This is why I added the new Delete Windows 10 Programs feature in version 1.7.
  • Beginning about a month ago the KB3035583 update started installing a new background task — beyond the ones previous versions already installed — that resets the AllowOSUpgrade value to 1 (enabled) twice a day. Not all users have this background task — I don’t know how Microsoft decides how these things get distributed — but for those who do, changing this value like [Bott] suggests will only help you for 12 hours or less.

Color me unimpressed.

Clearly Microsoft wants you to run Windows 10 at any cost. Even if that means pissing you off in the process. To me that doesn’t sound like a winning strategy. But clearly they don’t care. That may yet come back to haunt them.

Internet Explorer 8,9,10 Are No More

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 12, 2016 by itnerd

If you’re running Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10, you shouldn’t be. Extended support has finished for IE8, 9 and 10. That means that there are no security fixes for you. Going forward, only IE9 on Vista SP2, IE11 (the latest edition of IE released in 2013) on Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 are now supported. Thus your choices are:

  • Upgrade to the latest IE on your version of Windows.
  • Use an alternate browser such as Firefox or Chrome.

Why should you care? You can get pwned by hackers if you’re running an insecure browser as there are many “drive by” attacks out there that simply infect any user that surfs to an infected website. That should be reason enough for you to upgrade.

Microsoft To Windows 8 Users: Upgrade Or Else

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 12, 2016 by itnerd

The bad news for Windows 8 users. If you don’t update to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, you will not get updates. But before you light the torches and get mad at Microsoft, there’s a very good reason for this. Windows 8 is end of life as of tomorrow (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click search to see). So this is no different than Windows 7 requiring you to have a service pack installed to continue support.

My advice: Make sure you have a current backup and update to Windows 8.1…. Or Windows 10. That way you continue to get the latest security updates.

Sick Of Windows 10 Pushing Itself Onto Your Computer? Here’s A Fix!

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2016 by itnerd

If you’re running a Windows 7 or 8.x PC, you’re likely experienced Microsoft trying to push Windows 10 onto your PC. Fortunately, Microsoft has a document that tells you how to turn this rather annoying behavior off. This is the document in question and it is the best way to deal with this issue. Why? The only other way to deal with this is to turn off Windows Updates. That’s bad because this leaves you wide open to security issues that hackers may already be exploiting.

One thing that you should keep in mind is that this is going to be a non-issue in a few months as Microsoft is only offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade until July. After that, users will have to open their wallets to get Windows 10. At that point, Microsoft’s aggressive tactics should stop. Maybe.

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