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