Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Showing M$ who's boss

One of the things that annoys me about Microsoft is that it has created an operating system that behaves as if it is your job to service its needs rather than a tool that is supposed to serve yours.

I'm thinking specifically about updates. Windows constantly nags you to install updates (which wouldn't be necessary if they'd designed the thing properly in the first place) and then it expects you to interrupt what you're doing while it does. After you have downloaded updates it nags you to restart the computer in order to install them. Perhaps they could have designed it so you didn't have to restart the entire OS after every change? When you do shut down it won't let you switch off while it is installing updates, so you have to wait around twiddling your thumbs until it is finished.

Hey, Microsoft, it's MY computer, okay?

I just received an update to Internet Explorer 8 (which I don't even use) today. After it was downloaded, Windows nagged me twice to restart the system by popping up a window in front of what I was doing, even though I was in the middle of writing something and did not want these interruptions to my train of thought.

Fortunately there is a magic incantation you can remember to show Microsoft who's boss. It's:

net stop wuauserv

Just click Start, Run, type the magic words into the box and hit the Enter key. What it does is kill the Windows update service for the remainder of that session. Windows will nag you no longer, and your updates will be installed the next time YOU decide to restart.


Paul M0PCZ said...

Hi Julian,

Working at my laptop on nightshift (OK watching a DVD) and media player closes, and the laptop starts shutting down.

It then tells me it installing an important update and not to switch off the computer !

Which it of course promptly does.

Yes I am probably better protected now against some hacker, but hey a warning would of been nice, oh and how much data was downloaded for the update on my 1Gb a month dongle ?

K9CHP said...

Go to CONTROL PANEL, WINDOWS UPDATE and CHANGE SETTINGS and you'll find ways to be in control of what, if any is downloaded and/or installed.

Vista never bugs me anymore, I update when I feel like it. It is my computer, my copy of VIsta and I'm in control here!

Amir K9CHP

Jeff Davis, KE9V said...

I hate to take the position of the Microsoft apologist, however, this is a tough issue...

98.9% of everyone who uses Microsoft Windows is not savvy about computer security. If they were, Microsoft would have to beg users to quit using IE6, or wouldn't have so many instances of virus issues. Far and away, Microsoft OS users are safer when they use updated software and a fully-patched operating system.

The most recent update was a zero-day patch for IE6, IE7, and IE8 and was deemed important enough for them to push out even though it was an out of cycle patch. While you may very well remember to turn Windows update back on at your convenience, someone else will not and then when their system becomes infected and crashes, they will blame Bill Gates for their problems. Microsoft simply cannot win in this scenario.

Regular system updates are a free blessing from the mother ship. My Ubuntu desktop receives literally dozens and dozens of updates each week and I am glad to get them! My Mac gets updates about once a month or immediately when a security problem is detected.

I think the only safe way around all this is to remove the Internet access from your computer. Problem solved! :-)

73, Jeff

Unknown said...

Hi Jeff. I think I should make it clear that "net stop wuauserv" only stops the update process for the duration of the session so Windows stops nagging you. So your security isn't compromised (unless you think the risk of not installing the update for a few more hours makes the interruption to your work justifiable.)

I will also say (and I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me) that the whole security thing is blown up out of all proportion to the real risks involved, in order to support a billion dollar security industry.

On my old shack computer in order to get the last bit of performance out of it I did not run antivirus and I turned off updates. I didn't get hit by anything.

But then I use an external firewall, I surf the web using Firefox and I use Gmail which has excellent spam and phishing detection so any email-borne nasties are kept off my hard drive. I don't visit p*rn or warez sites, use social networks or participate in peer file sharing.

If you "practise safe hex" (as the geeks like to put it) and know what you are doing there is nothing to worry about. But I agree, the average Joe needs his anti-virus and his updates. I run them now too, but only because the new PC has enough grunt to do so.