Archive for Microsoft

Microsoft Made Major Announcements Today That Are Worth Keeping An Eye On [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 6, 2015 by itnerd

Microsoft had a media event today where they dropped some major product announcements. Here’s the highlights:

  • Microsoft’s Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge to get one.
  • Microsoft also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating “flagships,” while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the range of cheap Android phones.
  • Something that is very interesting is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard:
  • Microsoft also showed off the Surface 4. Its has a screen that is 12.3″ in size at 2160×1440 resolution. It also rolls up with a Skylake processor, 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. Clearly this is a shot at the iPad Pro.
  • Finally, Microsoft unveiled the Surface Book laptop. You can unclip the 13.5″ touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. But you want to use it docked as the keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when it is attached. I’m guessing that this is both a shot at the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro.

All of these announcements are interesting enough that if I were you, I’d actually bother to keep an eye on how well these do for Microsoft. I really think that they might be on to something.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Microsoft also came out with a new version of their Band fitness tracker that looks cooler and is more sophisticated than their last effort in this space.

Microsoft Faces Backlash Over Patch Documentation In Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 14, 2015 by itnerd

Hot off the heels of a couple of really dumb moves. Namely this one where Microsoft is forcing Windows 10 users to take patches whether they want them or not, or this one where Windows 10’s privacy robbing features are being shoved onto Windows 7/8 PCs, not to mention this one where Microsoft is forcing Windows 10 onto every Windows 7/8 PC, comes a petition that asks Microsoft to increase the level of detail that Microsoft gives when it comes to what’s in Windows 10 updates:

To many a sys admin the current communication levels in the knowledge base articles that document the contents of the cumulative Windows 10 updates are not complete enough and we cannot determine if a released update has fixed a bug that we noted. Instead we have to rely on the community word of mouth “Gee, did that fix that issue for you?” which is not a good way to handle communication or patch management.


Our request:
Can we get coherent KB articles for Windows 10 updates and not rambling lists of files that were changed?

As I type this, 1950 people have voted for this. Expect this to be the start of a broader backlash against the folks at 1 Microsoft Way in Redmond Wa. I say that because they’ve put out a really good OS in the form of Windows 10 (and if you don’t believe me, read my review on it), but have really botched the execution. Thus they really need to start doing some damage control before the amount of missteps pile up so high that they have difficulty recovering from it.

Microsoft’s Stupidity Gets Worse As It Brings Windows 10’s Worst Features To Windows 7/8

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 12, 2015 by itnerd

If you thought that Microsoft forcing Windows 10 onto the hard drives of Windows 7 and 8 users was bad. Here’s something that’s worse. Software specialist website gHacks has discovered that Microsoft is shoving the sort of user tracking features that are found in Windows 10 on to Windows 7 and 8 computers. They’re doing this in the form of three updates. KB3075249KB3080149 and KB3068708 (which replaces KB3022345) are all meant to add “customer experience and diagnostic telemetry” to Windows 7 and Windows 8. Translation: Microsoft is watching what you do and your computer is reporting back to Redmond Washington with that info. And here’s what’s worse:

“These four updates ignore existing user preferences stored in Windows 7 and Windows 8 (including any edits made to the Hosts file) and immediately starts exchanging user data with and”

Lovely. Now KB3068708 is classified as ‘Recommended’ which means Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs with Windows Update set to automatic will install it by default. That said for the update to appear at all, you will need to be a participant in Microsoft’s Customer Experience Improvement Program, an opt-in program which already has you agreeing to send user data to the company.

Now if this creeps you out, and it should, here’s how you can get your privacy back:

  1. Go to Control Panel
  2. Go to Programs
  3. Go to Uninstall or change a program and locate each update by name
  4. Double click on each update to uninstall it or right click on the update and choose uninstall

To hide the updates so they won’t install in future:

  1. Go to Control Panel
  2. Go to System and Security
  3. Go to Windows Update

Microsoft really needs to get their act together. Users don’t want this sort of tracking and they would be best advised to do an about face on this front as this is the sort of stupidity that annoys them and sends them running to Apple to buy Macs.

Shame, shame Microsoft.

Microsoft Seems To Be Forcing You To Update To Windows 10…. WTF?? [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 11, 2015 by itnerd

From the “why the hell would they think this is a good idea” department comes the news that our friends at Microsoft are downloading Windows 10 to PCs whether or not users have reserved a copy of it to download. What’s wrong with this? Say you have a cap in terms of the amount of data you can transfer across your Internet connection. This force download will basically eat about 4GB to 6GB of your cap. On top of that, that amount of disk space will simply “disappear” as well. All without your permission. According to a Microsoft statement given to The Inquirer, this will happen if you have automatic updates via Windows Update turned on. Thus that implies that if you have automatic updates turned off, this should be a non issue. That’s how I have my Windows 7 virtual machine set up and I don’t see any evidence that Microsoft has tried to force download Windows 10 onto my computer. But I will watch this and update this post if it does happen.

Here’s why this is an incredibly stupid idea on the part of Microsoft. I get that Microsoft would prefer that we all run their latest and greatest OS. It would make their lives easier as they would only have to write patches for one OS as opposed to having to write code for Windows 10, Windows 8.x, Windows 7.x and who know what else that they still support. It would also make us more secure in theory as Windows 10 has better security than previous efforts from Redmond. But it is my choice what OS I want to run and not Microsoft’s choice. Force feeding Windows 10 down users throats on top of not giving users the choice to install system updates or not is the sort of stupidity that makes people ditch PCs and run to Apple Stores to buy Macs because even Apple isn’t that dumb. Though there was that U2 album thing from last year. But at least that was a bunch of music files and not a 6GB operating system.

Microsoft is going to live to regret this. Mark my words.

UPDATE: Addictive Tips has a solution for this issue which involves uninstalling the KB3035583 update among other things.

Microsoft Releases Emergency Patch For Internet Explorer

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 18, 2015 by itnerd

Windows users should be heading to Windows Update to get an emergency patch that plug a critical security flaw in all supported versions of the Internet Explorer browser. This patch covers versions from IE7 to IE 11. But if you’re running Microsoft Edge which comes with Windows 10, you are not affected. However, I would recommend installing this patch immediately because other parts of Windows or other Microsoft apps can use IE.

According to the advisory put out by Microsoft, this patch plugs a drive by vulnerability, meaning IE users can infect their systems merely by browsing to a hacked or malicious Web site if they don’t have this patch installed.

I’m downloading the patch as I type this to my virtual PCs as anytime Microsoft put a patch out outside of “Patch Tuesday,” it usually means the issue is really, really bad and is likely being exploited as we speak. You should too download this too as well to protect yourself.

Windows 10 Update Issue Shows That Microsoft Got It Wrong With Mandatory Updates [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 10, 2015 by itnerd

When I reviewed Windows 10, one of the things I pointed out was this:

Speaking of updates, you have to take them as Microsoft no longer allows you to not accept updates to your computer as they clearly think it’s for your own good. I’m torn on that one. I see their point, but I’d like some choice in the matter as well.

Here’s a perfect example of why Microsoft got this wrong. Last week, Microsoft pushed a cumulative update which incorporates all of the bug fixes previously released for the new OS. The problem was that it wouldn’t install properly on some computers, that in turn forces the OS to try and roll back the changes. But the computer tries to install the update again and the in effect, the computer gets stuck in a reboot loop as a result.


The update in question is KB3081424, not that it matters because Windows 10 users are forced to take updates whether they want them or not. At least in the past, I could tell you to disable Windows Update until this gets sorted. But you don’t have that option with Windows 10.


The cause of the problem according to a article from Forbes, is a bad entry in the Registry. Now the fix involves deleting certain keys in the Registry. But even though I have linked to the article, I do not recommend that you do this as I have seen really bad things happen when people edit the registry. Thus I would recommend waiting for an official fix from Microsoft to address this.

Meanwhile, Microsoft should rethink their forced update strategy as clearly it is not without risks and clearly is not in the best interests of their users.

UPDATEMashable is reporting that Microsoft has issued a new update that fixes the bug caused by the mandatory KB3081424 update.

Windows 10 Reduces Your Privacy…..Here’s How To Gain It Back

Posted in Tips with tags , on August 4, 2015 by itnerd

On Windows 10’s launch day, I spoke about WiFi Sense which shares your WiFi access with others by default. That’s a serious lack of privacy. But there are other options that are just as bad as WiFi Sense and unless you made the effort to turn them off while installing Windows 10 by not using the “Express Settings” option during the installation of Microsoft’s latest OS, then you’ve given up a fair amount of privacy right out of the gate. But fear not! You can get it back if you’re willing to put in about 10 minutes of work to do it. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to the Settings app and click the Privacy button. Then you need to turn off everything but the SmartScreen Filter. This stops Microsoft from gathering info on how you use Windows 10 and offering you everything from tips to advertising. Plus it stops allowing Microsoft to use your usage of Windows 10 to improve the product. And if you’re wondering why I am telling you to leave the SmartScreen filter on, that is supposed to stop you from downloading malware or visiting websites known to be infecting PCs. But only if you’re using Internet Explorer, Edge, and apps from the Windows Store.
  • Next you have to stop apps from divulging your location. Inside the Privacy app, click Location and turn everything off.
  • At the bottom of the Privacy app, click Feedback. Then set the Feedback frequency to Never. What this does is stops Windows 10 from reporting back to 1 Microsoft Way every time an app crashes or anything else that might be considered to be negative happens to your computer.
  • The next thing to consider is if you want to disable Cortana or curtail what (she?) it can do. I admit that not everyone will want to turn off or limit how much Cortana is capable of. But consider that everything that you do with Cortana gets sent to the cloud which means that Microsoft is potentially collecting info. Now that’s no worse than Apple’s Siri which works exactly the same way. But if the way that Siri works bothers you, then Cortana should as well. To tweak Cortana or turn (she?) it off, hit the Start button. Type Cortana and the Start screen will be replaced by a grey search window. Click the cog icon to reveal Cortana’s settings pane. You can turn Cortana off from here or scale back what (she?) it can do.
  • The last thing is WiFi Sense. In my case, I simply turned it off as there is no logical reason why it should be on. I did that by going to the Start button and tying Wi-Fi and then clicking on Change Wi-Fi settings. In the settings app, click Manage Wi-Fi settings. You can then turn off WiFi Sense. But if you wish, you can tweak your settings to limit sharing to your Facebook, Outlook, or Skype contacts. But if I were you, just turn it off. You’ll thank me for that tip once hackers figure out how to leverage WiFi Sense for their own evil purposes.

Have you got any other Windows 10 tips? If so, please leave a comment and share what you know with all of us.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 346 other followers