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Windows Automatic Update Stumbles

A recent update to Windows broke a few things. Should we panic?

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Transcript

Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some
of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

Shortly after the 15th of the month I started getting a flood of questions
that all boiled down to this: Internet Explorer started requiring the “http://”
in front of domain names typed into the address bar. Where you used to be able
to type something like “askleo.info”, you now needed to type the entire
“http://askleo.info” in order to get it to work.

Apparently the culprit is one of the security updates that was pushed out in
Windows Automatic Updates. Microsoft has published a Knowledgebase article on the
topic, number 918165, that details how the update, in conjunction with some
third party software, can cause several different types of failures.

Since none of them are serious or involve data loss, it’s unclear how, or
when, Microsoft will “fix the fix”. For the moment they include a registry
setting that I’m hearing may, or may not, help.

But what does this mean about Automatic Updates? Are they bad? I know there
are people that avoid automatic updates for exactly this reason – it might
break something. Were they right?

In my opinion no. Or at least not yet.

Automatic update has been around for a while now, and from what I’ve seen,
it’s gone a long way towards mitigating many of the risks that PCs are exposed
to. Problems that arrive at Ask Leo! are often due, in part, to simply not
keeping Windows up to date with fixes for the latest round of discovered
vulnerabilities. Automatic Updates, of course, sidesteps that issue completely.

Yes, this last round apparently replaced a security vulnerability with a
functional problem for some people, and that’s unfortunate and gives Microsoft
a bit of a black eye.

I’ll reserve final judgment, but for now I definitely continue to believe in
Automatic Update, and have it enabled on all my machines. Microsoft needs to
provide timely and problem free updates in the future. It would only take a few
mistakes such as this one to quickly erode people’s trust in the process, and
start avoiding it. That, of course, would lead to an entirely different set of
problems as vulnerabilities become public, and malware created to exploit
them.

If you’re concerned, I would at least configure it to download and notify
without installing – that way you can delay, if you like, waiting to see if any
reports of problems arises.

But don’t wait too long.

I’d love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10178 in
the go to article number box. Leave a comment, I read them all.

This is a presentation of askleo.info, a free on-line technical question and
answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help
solve your computer problems.

That’s askleo.info.

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7 comments on “Windows Automatic Update Stumbles”

  1. One of the biggest complaints is that Microsoft waits and waits on issuing these fixes because they claim they need to test them and make sure they don’t bung up other things.

    So users have to wait for patches while security holes sit open and exploits begin to appear in the wild. Then, when Microsoft releases them, they bung up other things.

    It’s like being in pain and being denied a painkiller because the doctor wants to make sure you won’t have unpleasant side effects. Then, when you get it, you have unpleasant side effects. So all that pain you suffered was for nothing and you wonder if the delay was just a bunch of bullpuckey while the doctor played virtual golf or something.

    Since I avoid IE and don’t run the software that’s having/causing other issues with the patches, the latest auto update problem hasn’t impacted me. Still, I can understand people feeling duped lied to.

    Reply
  2. I would like to know how Greg Bulmash runs Windows, but not IE. I always
    Thought they are one and the same, so when you update you are updating
    all of windows and not just the browser.

    Reply
  3. Messages from my hotmail account are not beig delivered to anyone on …@aol.
    I keep receiving delivery notification failure – although it worked perfectly in the past.I cannot contact Hotmail. Could it be due to Windows updates? Help, please.

    Reply
  4. No, this has nothing to do with Windows update.

    It depends on the reason quoted in the bounces you get back from AOL. But your email may simply look too much like spam, and AOL is agressive (over agressive, in my opinion) about blocking suspected spammers. Since so much spam comes from Hotmail accounts, you’re starting at a disadvantage. Try sending from an account with a different provider.

    Reply
  5. leo, i cannot get atuomatic updt work xp after a virus attack, auc update was disabled and i get warn i cannot reset it and manualdates are prevented when i go di to microsoft. becau of the dablity. I follow the run services. msc but just flips back to dis. Mcafee s stumped and abandon me..o you havey ides. jjc ps maybe ‘internet antivirus virus’ already included ant pop ups commerciale ‘dumb test.

    Reply

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