Critical update for Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 users

Microsoft has announced that all Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 Updates will require an update in order to continue to get Windows Updates [the same will go if WSUS 3.2/3.0 SP2 is used]. This is for SHA-2 code signing.

After August 13, 2019, Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 Updates will not receive any updates.

As the update was just release this past Tuesday, you would of figured that the update would be included in this week’s updates, but so far I haven’t seen any.

For further information click here. Click here for the deadlines.

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One year left for Windows 7

Just a reminder that Windows 7 is in its final year of support by Microsoft.

What this means is that as we get closer to the final date [January 14, 2020] and after, companies may stop supporting Windows 7.

This could be anything from no more anti-virus definitions or software updates to no support for new hardware [for example, if your printer dies, there may not be any software that will work with a new printer and Windows 7].

You may also get messages like: “Your browser is no longer supported. Some parts of this web site may no longer work or you may experience problems.”

The above could happened when the various web browsers [Google, Firefox, etc.] stop supporting Windows 7 even though they will support newer operating systems.

What can be done? You can do one of the following:

  • Buy a replacement computer or if you don’t really think you need a computer, buy a tablet [if you don’t have one].
  • Your computer may still be upgradable to Windows 10. There is no cost for the license, but it will be a lengthy process [time and cost] required to migrate.
  • You can leave the computer at is and hope that nothing happens. This means an increased chances of security issues.

Windows 7 two year warning

Just a note that Windows 7 support will officially die in about 2 years.

When that happens, Microsoft will not offer any new support [including security updates]. Similarly, most third party will stop supporting Windows 7. For example, whomever you use for anti-virus may stop further updates. In another example, new printers will not contain software to support Windows 7 [although this could happen sooner].

Your options:

  1. Stick with Windows 7 but expect lest security.
  2. Buy a new computer [in particularly if your computer is quite old and/or slow.
  3. Upgrade to Windows 10.

For the latter you may say “I thought that free upgrade period was long over?” It is but there is a caveat.

You can still upgrade to Windows 10 but you have to uninstall all licensed software and back up your data. You then need to wipe the hard disk and install Windows 10 with the Windows 7 license, install your licensed applications and restore your data. That is a lot of work, but it can be done.

 

You can still upgrade to Windows 10 for free

So we are roughly 28 months away from the end of support for Windows 7. If you didn’t upgrade to Windows 10, you still can.

As you probably remember [maybe unfortunately], Microsoft tried to shove Windows 10 down our throats initially with the “GWX” tool. Plenty of backlash there. But after the year was up, that tool disappeared and those with Windows 7 [or Windows 8.1] weren’t asked anymore.

Some refused Windows 10 for various reasons [I wonder how many actually used/tested it for decent amount of time or just took everyone’s negative opinions and that was it]. Some didn’t want to switch or had applications that wouldn’t work with Windows 10 [that I can understand].

So now, it has been a couple of years and time is ticking.

You can still “upgrade” [note the quotes] if you have a valid Windows 7 [or Windows 8.1] license.

To do this you will need to wipe your current Windows installation complete.

Verify you have access to your system’s serial number.

Download the Windows 10 installation ISO and transfer to a DVD or USB key and the media matches the version of your serial number. For example, if Windows 7 is a “Home Premium”, you need a copy of the “Home” media. If Windows 7 is “Pro” or “Ultimate” you will need the “Pro” media.

All license applications will need to be uninstalled [so you can use the same license in Windows 10].

You must back up all of your data.

Ideally if you had a second hard disk, you could install Windows 10 there and then transfer the data from the old hard disk to the new/spare hard disk [keeping the old hard disk as a backup for a while].

Once data is backed up and nothing else is needed on the old hard disk, boot off the USB key or DVD. When asked, do not keep anything. Wipe out the partitions [optionally wipe the OEM partition].

It will ask you if you want it to check for updates, that is questionable. See my notes below.

If asked for the version, match the Windows 7 version with the Windows 10 equivalent [see above]. When asked for a serial number, enter your Windows 7 license number.
Let the installation go through.

When done, clean up what you don’t need and modify whatever settings.

Restore your applications and data.

If not already done, check for updates.

Notes:

  • Unsure if this free upgrade option will continue on indefinitely.
  • Once you upgrade, the Windows 7 license is marked as invalid.
  • If you previously upgraded to Windows 10 and then downgraded to Windows 7, when asked to enter a license, don’t enter anything. Once you finish the installation, it should pull the Windows 10 license from a Microsoft server [assumed you didn’t make too many hardware changes]. But it is still good to jot down that serial number.
  • I always pause when it asks to check for updates before the installation. I find that it sometimes takes forever to find any updates. On the other hand, the latest update may correct any issues since Windows 10 release that could cause the installation to fail if the update isn’t installed.
  • I have done this once and it worked like a charm. Others on the internet have also done it. There is always that weird chance it won’t work. Don’t know what to tell you. Everything has a risk level. Every situation is different. I can’t be responsible for a failed upgrade.

 

Fixing Windows 7’s Windows Update from doing nothing

hereIf you have tried to install Windows 7 from scratch, I don’t know about you but I’ve seen reports [plus a few times in person] where when trying to check for updates, Windows Updates just constantly searches. Could even last for hours.

Here is a way to fix the problem:

  1. Download and run the “FixIt” from Microsoft here for Windows 7 [works with Windows 8.x as well].
  2. Use the default settings. Elevated access required. Don’t reboot.
  3. Open the Services applet from the Administrative Tools which is in the Control Panel.
  4. Stop Windows Update. Keep the Services applet open.
  5. Go to c:\windows. Find the SoftwareDistribution folder and rename it [I usually add a letter or number at the end].
  6. Create a new folder called SoftwareDistribution. [You can optionally delete the SoftwareDistribution folder that you renamed.]
  7. Start up the Windows Update service.
  8. Download the appropriate platform version of July 2016 Cumulative Update (3172605). [Note that this update works. The cumulative updates that came out after may or may not correct the problem.]
  9. Run the July 2016 Cumulative Update.
  10. Reboot.

From this point on, Windows Update should properly work. You can download all the missing updates that you need.


Notes:

  • The July 2016 Cumulative Update seems to have something in the update that fixes Windows Update but isn’t listed in what was updated.
  • Once you have renamed the SoftwareDistribution folder, this will effectively reset Windows Update settings.

 

Turn off the option to get driver updates from Windows Update

As you may know, sometimes drivers that may come through Windows Update may not be perfect [hummm]. Many experts prefer to update the drivers on their own. In Windows 10 you can turn off Windows Update from updating any drivers with is procedure:

  1. Navigate to Control Panel > System > Advanced system settings.
  2. Click the Hardware tab then click on Device Installation Settings.
  3. Select the No (your devices may not work as expected).
  4. Then select Save Changes.

Under Windows 7, you have further options if you choose No, let me choose what to do. You can choose always or never get driver updates from Windows Update or only get drivers if not on the computer.

 

Some people really don’t like Windows 10…

…. And they probably never even looked at it.

Even after almost a year, it seems some computer “techies” will continue to find excuses in not to upgrade to Windows 10.

The latest is a “subscription” application found in the latest build of what will become the Anniversary Update for Windows 10. Microsoft has already stated that the application is for subscriptions but for the enterprise edition of Windows 10 – even though it is found in the non-enterprise edition installations.

And yet some people are already thinking that either a subscription service is coming soon or when Windows 10 support dies in 9+ years.

Well, there would be a huge backlash if Microsoft decided to start a subscription service for consumers.

As for support the service in 9+, what’s the difference? Do people expect their computer to be around in 9+ years? Especially if some upgraded from a previous OS? Give me a break.

Some are still whining about the telemetry issue – that is that Microsoft is “spying” on them. Again, there would be an actual backlash if Microsoft did that. Instead some anonymous information is sent to Microsoft to improve Windows [or applications].

But again, you can disable some or most of them by using the various tools that exist to stop the reporting such as The Next big Tweak and Spybot’s Anti-Beacon software.