Catch up on Microsoft patching fast

Last week, Microsoft quietly released its convenience update pack for Windows 7, 8.1., and Server 2008R2. This is a great opportunity to catch up on Microsoft patching, as it incorporates all of Microsoft’s OS-level updates from the release of Service Pack 1 to April 2016.

Here’s how to use this to clear your corporation’s backlog of Microsoft patches. No, I haven’t seen your corporate network, but I’ll bet you have one.

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Windows 10 is out. I say you should upgrade, just not necessarily right now.

Windows 10 is out today. Of course I’ve been getting questions about whether to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, and I’ve been seeing mixed advice on upgrading, though some of that mixed advice is regarding Microsoft history that isn’t completely relevant today.

My advice is to upgrade immediately if you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, and to wait, perhaps six months, if you’re running Windows 7, but I still think you should do it. I’ll explain.

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Why you need to be planning for Windows 10

A longtime friend asked me at church on Sunday about Windows 10. My answer was fairly succinct: Windows 7 has five years left in it, so we’ll probably all end up running it at some point.

Microsoft made a number of announcements last week, so here’s what you need to know about it.

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Don’t wait for Service Pack 1

I was on a conference call discussing the Microsoft product lifecycle with several coworkers and our Microsoft-assigned support engineers when someone asked if a server version of Windows 10 was going to come out.

The Microsoft rep said no comment. Then I chimed in.

“We need to assume they will release a server version, probably about six months after the desktop version, and we need to start testing and preparing to deploy it when it comes out,” I said.

“Shouldn’t we wait for Service Pack 1?”

I went in for the kill. Read more

Fixing the .NET Framework when it b0rks on you

The bane of my existence as a sysadmin was .NET. It would corrupt itself randomly, sometimes taking with it this awful CA product written in .NET that nobody else wanted anything to do with.

In my day I’d reinstall service packs and the latest patches and one of the six things we tried would fix it. I rarely knew which one. But that was five years ago. Today, as long as you’re running .NET 4.5.1 or earlier, Microsoft has an automated tool that repairs it. You can run it as a GUI app or from a command line or script. Curiously, it doesn’t support 4.5.2 yet–maybe that means 4.5.2 doesn’t break. We can dream, right?

Normally I’d say upgrade to 4.5.2 since its end of life is in 2023, as opposed to 2016, but until the fix gets revised to support 4.5.2, I won’t blame you for staying back on 4.5.1. Availability is 1/3 of security, after all.

Windows Vista’s market share is growing. After seeing 8.1, I know why

I installed Windows Vista last week. I need a legal copy of a supported version of Windows to use to VPN in to work and run the corporate Citrix client. Vista fit the bill. It’s better than 8.1, and it’s supported until April 2017. I always hated Vista, but 8 and 8.1 made me realize it could have been a lot worse, and on recent hardware Vista does OK. It still prompts you for admin rights too much and too slowly and makes you work too hard to click yes, but at least you can find stuff. Read more

Getting a proper Start button back even when Microsoft doesn’t want to give one

Are you putting off switching to Windows 8.1 because you don’t want to relearn everything from scratch that you’ve known since 1995? I saw Windows 8.1 on Thanksgiving, and you have to do some asinine downward swipe with the mouse to bring up Control Panel. Yeah, that’s easier.

But even though Microsoft insists on shooting itself in the foot with a nuclear missile, Classic Shell fixes what Microsoft refuses to fix. Want Windows 8 to act like Windows 7? No problem. Want it to look like XP? Yeah, you can even do that.

So I highly recommend it. Yes, Windows 8.1 with Classic Start. Here’s why. Read more

Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you probably know that new PC sales are in the toilet–out of the five biggest vendors, the only one whose sales managed to hold steady in Q1 2013 was Lenovo, while the other four saw a sales decline. So now Slashdot linked to a ZDNet piece stating that Windows is over, and said it must be true because ZDNet always sides with Microsoft.

Let’s not read too much into that. The author of the piece is a longtime open-source advocate. The points he raises are completely valid, but if there’s one person who’s going to take Microsoft to task, it’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols.

Microsoft has a long road ahead, but there is precedent for salvaging the boondoggle known as Windows 8. And I don’t think Windows 8 is the only factor here. Read more

Don’t look for me waiting in line to buy Windows 8 at midnight

Windows 8 is out. Yawn. I won’t be standing in line. I wait a minimum of a year to install new versions of Windows anyway, a practice that’s beein serving me well since 1994, and I skipped Vista altogether at home. I had it at work, so I know I didn’t miss anything. If Windows 8 is worth having, I’ll know about it by this time next year.

Windows 8 comes out later this year, but I won’t be moving just yet

So Windows 8 was released today. I won’t be moving to it anytime soon.

There are some people who make a habit of waiting for Service Pack 1 to be released before upgrading to a new version of Windows. The trouble is, I can think of one instance, Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 1, that was much more problematic than its predecessor. And in more recent years, service packs have become more arbitrary. Knowing that practice exists, Microsoft releases Service Pack 1 based more on uptake than on actual need.

So I have a different rule I follow. Read more

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