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Archive for February, 2010

I had turned off Windows 7 updates on February 13, albeit after I installed the contentious batch of February 9 updates. I don’t get good vibes about what is happening on the Updates front, at present. Though WAT update, KB971033, hasn’t wreaked havoc, as yet, I don’t trust that one — and I have a bona fide, legit copy of Windows 7 Professional. I would not be surprised if KB971033 clobbers more users of valid copies of Windows 7 than it does those with pirated copies. That just seems to be the Microsoft way — just as, Ballmer looking best in drag.

Well, KB977863, specifically for the Windows 7 Media Player intrigued me. I have had problems with the Media Player from the start. It also appears that I am not alone and that Microsoft knew of these Media Player problems before Windows 7 was released. The bug fix list for KB977863 is rather esoteric — and didn’t list ‘FIXES the widely reported fails to start problem.’ But, I have a sneaking feeling that Microsoft might have snuck in some code to fix this basis problem — in much the same way that Ballmer likes to snuck about in drag. So, I went ahead and checked what updates were outstanding.

There were 8. Three were marked IMPORTANT, but one was the all too frequent update to Windows Defender. << This was actually the first Windows Defender update since Feb. 12. In the past we got these updates much more frequently, sometimes two in a week. >>

One was KB971033, which was marked optional. So I opted out of that.

I installed the other seven, successfully. They were: KB977863 [Media Player], KB976662, KB979306, KB915592 [Windows Defender], KB978637, KB979099 [Rights Management] & KB976264. Some of the ‘generic’ Windows 7 updates were for relatively innocuous issues such as incorrect daylight saving date calculation and sleep mode with some Intel processors. They didn’t look too scary.

With my book published and a 19-page technical White Paper on mainframe management I had to write, in a hurry, now done, I have some latitude with POTENTIAL system outages. On Thursday night we lost power for the whole night. High winds. We now have two generators. [As a mainframe guy I like redundant hardware.] I powered up the generators. Though I have UPSs, I decided not to power up this Windows 7 rig with its 720W power supply. Instead I cranked up one of XP machines. I could continue to work seamlessly on the White Paper (using copies backed up online and on an USB key). So I know I can go for a few days IF these updates screwed me up.

But, so far, so good. Yes, I had to do a restart.

I will keep you posted. Good luck.

Anura Guruge

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KB971033, Microsoft’s supposed measure to stop pirated copies of Windows 7 has been pushed out as an OPTIONAL Windows 7 update as of February 24.

As far as I can see this Windows Activation Technologies (WAT) Update has not caused much, if any, distress. That is good.

So far, I have only found one complaint. Somebody was complaining that they could not get this OPTIONAL update to install. He/she was gently ‘patted’ on the head and told not to worry. That the sky is not falling down.

I think there are two major reasons as to why we are not seeing much impact from this anti-piracy update:

  1. Savvy Windows 7 pirates are not installing this WAT update. They laugh in Microsoft’s face and spit on pictures of Ballmer in drag. So this update is totally useless in curbing the  ‘professional’ pirates in the US, China, Russia, India and the Maldive Islands. Flaccid. But what can you expect from a company whose CEO likes to prance around in drag.
  2. Those that are impacted are NOT Web savvy. That is why they got clobbered in the first place. They are not going to be posting on blogs or forums. They are the INNOCENT victims of professional pirates who sold them Windows 7 or a system with Windows 7 without in any way letting on that what they were getting was not legit. I feel bad for these folks. Both my grandmothers are long dead. But most who fall into this trap are what I call ‘our trusting grandmothers.’ They are clobbered. I feel bad. Maybe a picture of Ballmer in drag will make them feel better.

So that is the state of play. I will keep on monitoring this situation.

Good luck.

Cheers,

Anura Guruge

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KB971033, Microsoft’s supposed measure to stop pirated copies of Windows 7, started to get pushed out today, February 24, well ahead of the originally stated schedule. Though it was available for voluntary download from Microsoft’s Windows Update site since February 17, Microsoft had initially stated that it would not be included in Windows Updates pushed out to users till the ‘end of the month.‘ Well, February ends on Sunday, on February 28. But, this is Microsoft’s prerogative.

To Microsoft’s credit, it hasn’t, however, changed any of the other parameters. KB971033 is still classed as an OPTIONAL update. That means, unless you are one of those folks who give Microsoft carte blanche to install and and all updates without any intervention from your part, KB971033 will not get installed UNLESS you ask for it to be installed.

Well, I for one do not plan to install KB971033 right now.

I shouldn’t have anything to worry. I bought a genuine OEM copy of Windows 7 Professional from newegg.com — on ‘pre-order,’ so that I could get it on the official release date, i.e., Oct. 22, 2009. But, I worry that given Microsoft’s recent trend with updates, KB971033 might get some ‘false positives,’ i.e., flag genuine copies as pirated while giving the seal of approval to some pirated copies.

I just do not have a good feeling about Microsoft and their current desire to crack down on pirated Windows 7. They need the pirated copies to garner market share.

So I am going to wait and see. There will be people who install KB971033 without realizing it. Lets see what happens. Plus, Windows 7 RC copies will start their ‘forced shutdown’ next week — unless, of course, subvert that using the workarounds now appearing on the Web.

So be careful. Good luck.

Anura Guruge

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No, I have not tried it, as yet, with Windows 7.

But my free trial on my latest XP box expired today. Despite Avast’s conniption in December with its false positives, there was no way I was running a PC with Avast. I like Avast. Yes, there has been a few false positives over the year, the one in December, by far, the worst. But, in general, Avast has been solid and it inspires confidence.

So, I used their instructions and bought a license for $39.95. In the past they would then give me a key and I would copy-and-paste it into an input trench … and Bob, was my uncle.

Not anymore. Part of this was also because they now wanted me to upgrade to 5.0. However, since I didn’t even know there was a 5.0 this was confusing.

Anyway, the installation was NOT GOOD. Avast, you need to revisit the installation.

Yes, it worked. But, it didn’t accept the product key the first time around. Now they SAVE the key in a file they download. I had to double-click on this file to get the key installed.

Then it said my definitions were not updated and my attempt to manually update it … HUNG up Avast! Not good.

But after three restarts of XP I was all set.

They also changed their spinning globe icon. It is now a catchy red-orange.

Also gone is the geeky, 14 year olds would love it interface with the changeable skins. There is now a very professional, grown-up, no-nonsense, WYSIWYG interface. Very nice. I did a deep scan of the PC. Clean. I accepted it to be clean. I had been running Avast 4.8 Professional (free trial) on it from day one. First thing I installed after FireFox.

Bottom line. Installation needs work. New interface rocks.

Good luck.

Anura Guruge

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Last night, just after I had looked at a PDF document, I noticed what looked like a gray version of the EU flag in my Task Bar ‘tray’ [at the right-hand end].

Clicked on it. It was Adobe Updater saying that there was an update to Adobe Acrobat Professional 9.3 and Adobe Reader 9.3.

I was kind of glad. I had been waiting for a new update.

I had repaired my legit, Adobe Acrobat Professional 9.3 a week ago after its first crash.

I always like to see an update after I repair Acrobat because this refreshes the code and makes sure that much of it is OK.

I didn’t have to look. I knew the update had to do with security. I installed it. Worked OK. Required a restart.

As I had mentioned before, Adobe updates are nicely integrated with Windows 7. The Windows 7 Update History records the updates. I checked, via Action Center. The Adobe Updates were all logged and marked as successful.

Today, I went looking in Adobe.com for the Release Notes for 9.3.1. Yes, it was a security update. If you are interested, here is the Adobe Security Bulletin.

So far, so good. Good luck.

Anura Guruge

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The Auslogics Registry Defrag has never defragged the registry on this Windows 7 machine. When I have tried to run it, it has come back and said that the registry does not need defragging. I am not happy with that. I should have the option of being able to force a defrag, if I so wish.

Well, I tried to run it the other night. I think it was Friday, i.e., not yesterday, day before. Got this screen.

Another Whiskey, Tango, Fox moment.

The top says I never activated the free-trial, the bottom says the free-trial expired.

Not amused. This is the third such problem I have encountered with the Auslogics products:

  1. This trial expired … trial not activated message. [I installed the trial on January 26, 2010. So I haven’t had it for 30 days.] NOT GOOD.
  2. This Registry Defrag, as I accidentally discovered on February 1, 2010, will install itself, on top of a perfectly good prior version, without any warning message. NOT GOOD.
  3. The icon for the Auslogics Registry Cleaner got corrupted within minutes of me installing the product. That may have been Windows 7. But, now that I have seen the other installation related problems, it could also be Auslogics.

Bottom line. They have to do a better job on this. Plus now confirmed little trick by their BootSpeed product.

I still use the Registry Cleaner. Not that often. Used it twice in the last week. I used to use System Mechanic. The Auslogics Registry Cleaner doesn’t find as many errors. Not sure whether that is good or bad. Plus, I have not been able to compact my registry. I would like to.

I have also used the Disk Defrag to defrag and optimize my C-drive. It works. Took 19 minutes the last time around. In the end there is still no visible increase in performance. But, this machine has power to spare.

So that is the state of play when it comes to Auslogics.

Good luck.

Cheers,

Anura Guruge

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So far so good, mainly because, from what I can see, most people have astutely avoided the temptation of voluntarily trying out this update. Bravo. There is still hope of us. Yes, downloading KB971033 and letting it check your Windows 7, even if you know you have a legit copy, would be like playing Russian roulette … given Microsoft’s recent record of dud updates.

I have seen one report of somebody claiming that KB971033, once installed, clobbered his machine … not immediately … but on a subsequent restart. Not sure that this problem was caused by the update. Plus one incident doesn’t constitute a trend.

I have also seen one other claim that KB971033 clobbered a system … but this was from somebody who was monkeying around with his ASUS BIOS. He, himself, thinks that the problem might be his ad hoc modifications to the BIOS … possibly confusing KB971033.

Yes, there are lots of people looking around for ways to bypass KB971033. It is very easy. Don’t install it! Simple as that.

Remember, Microsoft really doesn’t want to stop people using pirated copies of Windows 7. So make Microsoft happy. Just say NO to KB971033. Remember Microsoft needs the market share. Do you think 69 million Chinese would be using Windows 7 IF they had to pay for it. They would have gone with Cinux.

So, so far, so good. But stay on your toes. A storm is brewing. Good luck.

Anura Guruge
The Author of ‘The Next Pope

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