Some directions for Windows computers and the CPU flaw

As you probably know by now, Intel [and to a lesser extent other CPU developers] were hit with a vulnerability that in some cases go back over 20 years.

Most operating system developers have released update or will shortly.

For example, Apple has released updates for their supported hardware. Google will release updates for Android [harder to exploit – surprisingly]. Microsoft has released updates for their operating systems but with a caveat – anti-virus developers must correct their own software first if using some programming code they shouldn’t of.

According to current information at this time, here are the most common anti-virus products and their status:

Avast: Fixed if using version 8 or later.

ESET: Fixed if you check for updates.

Kaspersky: Fix previously released.

McAfee: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Microsoft: Windows Defender is fixed.

Norton: Fixed.

Panda: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Symantec: Fixed when checking for updates.

Trend Micro: Can use the registry fix found here.

WebRoot: Expected to use the registry fix found here.

Once the fix is in place, Windows Update should list the January 2018 update.

If your computer is still supported, check for a recent BIOS update as well.

Please note that the information given is as is. I am not responsible for any issues that may arise. Check with the anti-virus vendor first. Failure could result in a BSOD or other issues. If your vendor isn’t listed, go to the vendor’s web site.

[Update 2018/01/11:] If you have VMware Workstation Player or Pro [recent supported versions or any business line versions, you may want to check for updates. If you are receiving updates with your AMD CPU, either you were unaffected or the issue has been fixed.

Some older AMD processors have had the recent OS updates suspended by Microsoft following some blue screen of deaths. Athlon 64 X2 seem to be affected.

 

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Should Microsoft ditch feature upgrades twice a year?

Since the summer of 2015, when Microsoft released Windows 10, Microsoft has been sending out feature updates [roughly] every 6 months.

Some background first. A feature update is that huge update that is release every six months. It includes new features to Windows plus enhancements to current features as well as security updates.

But as you probably noticed, you need to download this huge update [2 GB or greater]and wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours until the update is finished. A small business can’t sit around while one or more computers are being updated.

[And if you have a system like mine, any time a feature update is installed, it botches up several settings that you probably painstakingly have configured only to have to redo them in 6 months because Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about our settings.]

This also causes developers to fix/correct problems that will occur with a feature update.

Large businesses have to decide which feature edition to base their Windows 10 deployment on, only to find out that after building the image and doing pilot test runs, another feature edition is around the corner. These businesses will most likely base their deployment on the latest feature edition and not worry about the next feature edition when released – or even the one after.

After speaking with some people – both novices and technical – I think most would be happy with one feature upgrade per year. Windows 10 is mature enough. Even Apple doesn’t have major updates not more than once per year.

There will be some issues that would need to be somehow updated. For example, Edge, the web browser. It is still far from being perfect and strong enough to compete the other web browsers. [It is last among the major web browsers that works with Windows 10. One in ten people use it.] It needs to be updated more than twice a year. Chrome and Firefox are constantly being updated and enhanced.

There isn’t a competing Windows operating system but there is for web browsers. When Windows 10 was originally released [and even now], Microsoft was foolish to hide Internet Explorer in the “Start” menu system. After using Edge, which was more like a beta version when released in the first few feature editions, most Windows 10 users headed straight to Google or Mozilla’s web site to download their web browsers – not knowing Internet Explorer was still there.

Changes coming to some Skype users in January

If you use Skype and Facebook and you are logging into Skype with Facebook, you will have to replace your Facebook account in Skype with a Microsoft ID [account] such as one used for Email [Hotmail/Live] by January 10th.

[I personally don’t know anyone who is logging into Skype with a Facebook account.]
So as of January 11th, you can only use a Skype name or a Microsoft ID account.

Microsoft claims they have 300 million registered Skype users [out of 1 billion Microsoft IDs]. This will drop the total a bit.

How do you know what kind of account you have? Well, if configured, the upper left corner of your main screen gives you and indication. Skype names should just be your login name. Microsoft ID accounts may be your Email address or something that begins with “Live:”. You can verify by going into your profile.

 

Warning about a silent Windows 10 driver update

Over the last few days there has been a few cases where Windows 10 [I am guessing v1703 at the very least] has silently installed an update.

That update actually butchered [in these 3 cases that I know of] the video card drivers. Instead of 1920*1080, the highest display dropped to 1280*1024 as the video card wasn’t supported in Windows 10 but somehow, it did install some decent drivers originally.

If you have this problem, use the System Restore to go back to a date prior to the installation. Then apply the 6 steps at the bottom.

If System Restore doesn’t work, the follow these steps, rebooting at the end if needed:

  1. Go to Device Manager in the Control Panel.
  2. Select Display Adapter and then choose the display adapter shown.
  3. Right click and select Update drivers.
  4. Then Browse my computer for driver software and then Let me pick from a list of device drivers.
  5. Choose the drivers probably with a date from 2015 [may be just one].

If your computer is using old hardware, you may want to disable the option to let Windows automatically update hardware drivers.

To turn off Windows checking for hardware drivers via Windows Update:

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Click System.
  3. Click Advanced system settings from the left sidebar.
  4. Select the Hardware tab.
  5. Press the Device Installation Settings button.
  6. Choose No, and then press the Save Changes button.

A negative issue turning this option off is that you will have to update drivers on your own and if you add any hardware, there may be some issues adding the hardware.

 

 

Miscellaneous computer tips – Volume 9

Where to find pinned links

Always wonder where you can find your pinned links at the top of the Start menu or in the Task Bar? For whatever infinite wisdom Microsoft did, they placed them both under Internet Explorer and not [say] Windows Explorer. Even worse, if you drill down to “User Pinned” in one of the two paths below, “User Pinned” is a hidden folder. Why?

Below, replace your_user_name with the account you log in.

C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\StartMenu

C:\Users\your_user_name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

Note: You can only have valid shortcut links in the folder.

Firefox Send

Mozilla has released a new web tool called Firefox Send. Nothing to install.

You upload a file and it gets encrypted. You then provide the link to someone.

Once they download it or after 24 hours after uploading, it automatically gets deleted. You can download a file more than once.

Works with Firefox [not surprised] and Chrome. Not with Internet Explorer or Edge.

Windmail.dat in Outlook

When you see a WINMAIL.DAT attachment it means that these issues are caused by TNEF. TNEF is Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format that is used by Outlook for Windows and Exchange Server for Exchange specific features such as voting buttons.
When you are using Outlook with POP/IMAP/EAS account you can use the registry settings below to disable TNEF.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\xx.0\Outlook\Preferences]
“DisableTNEF”=dword:00000001

Notes:

  • xx.0 in this registry path corresponds to the Outlook version (16.0 = Outlook 2016, 15.0 = Outlook 2013, 14.0 = Outlook 2010).
  • This is a per user setting. So it has to be done for each user on a shared computer.
  • If you upgrade your version of Office [or Outlook] you need to reapply with the correct version.

By disabling TNEF, the following features will not work:

  • Task Request message will be replaced by a normal message.
  • Custom forms can’t be used and scripts and properties will be removed.
  • Embedded OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) in a message won’t be use. Instead, these are replaced by pictures.
  • Voting buttons may be used but recipients may not see any buttons.

As usual, use at your own risk. See the Notes page regarding making changes to your system.

Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool pulled

Microsoft has pulled the Malicious Software Removal Tool [version 5.54] from yesterday [November 14]. Unsure what the issue is about.

But when I ran it on one computer, it detected that Skype [version 7.40.0.104] was fishy.

If you ran MSRT already you may be required to run it again when re-released. If your computer is updated before the re-release, you will be notified of a further update once MSRT is re-released.

skype-msrt

This issue may only be with the full download. The Windows Update version may not be affected. However, for example, in Windows 7 it is optional.

[Update 2017/11/15:] That didn’t take long. Microsoft released updates today.