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Microsoft 'Stealth Update' Proving Problematic

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the we're-all-learning-together dept.

Microsoft 257

DaMan writes "According to the site WindowsSecrets, the stealth Update that Microsoft released back in August isn't quite as harmless as the company claims. The site's research has shown that when users try to do a repair to XP subsequent to the update, bad things happen. 'After using the repair option from an XP CD-ROM, Windows Update now downloads and installs the new 7.0.600.381 executable files. Some WU executables aren't registered with the operating system, preventing Windows Update from working as intended. This, in turn, prevents Microsoft's 80 latest patches from installing -- even if the patches successfully downloaded to the PC.' ZDNet's Hardware 2.0 has independently confirmed that this update adversely affects repaired XP installations: 'This issue highlights why it is vitally important that Microsoft doesn't release undocumented updates on the sly. Even the best tested update can have unpleasant side-effects, but if patches are documented properly and released in such a way that users (especially IT professionals) know they exist, it offers a necessary starting point for troubleshooting.'"

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Let me be the first to say... (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20768577)

Duh. Undocumented updates cause problems. In related news, failure to check for a buffer overflow causes software bugs.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768879)

Checking for a buffer overflow doesn't help: it's already happened by the time you've checked for it. Preventing an overflow is much more useful.

Why yes I am a pedantic prick, thanks!

Re:Let me be the first to say... (4, Funny)

igny (716218) | about 7 years ago | (#20768931)

That is why I have a clean reinstall for all Winboxes every Tuesday.

Just let us patch the systems (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 7 years ago | (#20768587)

Why not just let everyone patch their systems, and shut off the "non genuine" check or whatever is blocking this? Why wouldn't you want people to patch the systems? Doesn't an unpatched and infected system equate more directly to lost revenue than a "non-genuine" flagged system?

Re:Just let us patch the systems (2, Insightful)

musikit (716987) | about 7 years ago | (#20768665)

to me it seems that MS is charging for updates (or wanting to move toward charging for updates) to windows now instead of for windows itself. since if i warez windows i have a perfectly good machine with an OS it is only for updates that i am forced to actually pay for windows.

to me it seems that a large majority of issues with windows can be solved in 3 ways
1. dont use the OS "Add ons" (ie outlook msn messager etc)
2. use a properly configured firewall
3. dont be an idiot.

i have no problem following these 3 rules to save $300 on my OS.

Following your train of thought (3, Interesting)

laing (303349) | about 7 years ago | (#20769057)

Then wouldn't it be in Microsoft's best interest to ship all installable releases with deliberately deficient code? This way they virtually guarantee that the end user will connect for an update. In a way they are already doing this with manditory activation (some features turn off if Windows is never "activated").

Re:Following your train of thought (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 7 years ago | (#20769091)

or worse, deliberately ship with a critical security hole. What's the incentive to patch only the genuine machines if you have a huge contingency of non-legit installs that are being used in a bot-net to assault the genuine machines for new deficiencies at all times?

Re:Following your train of thought (4, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 7 years ago | (#20769217)

Then wouldn't it be in Microsoft's best interest to ship all installable releases with deliberately deficient code?

Are you saying they aren't?

Re:Following your train of thought (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769549)

Probably not. If word ever got out that Microsoft was intentionally shipping defective software, there would be legal hell to pay (antitrust lawsuits, consumer class-action lawsuits, shareholder lawsuits, etc.). And, as far as I can tell, Microsoft leaks memos like a sieve.

More to the point, they don't need to. Software design being what it is, a project of even moderate complexity is guaranteed to have bugs. If it is in C++, it will most likely have buffer overflows or memory leaks. If it touches the network, there will be security issues. And if you have refined your product to the point where all obvious defects are eradicated, you can easily introduce more by adding a few features, supporting more or newer standards, or merging with another product.

So Microsoft can keep shipping updates indefinitely, even without intentionally introducing malicious code. And that won't change without a major improvement in software engineering or a major shift in consumer interest from new software to stable software.

Re:Just let us patch the systems (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769289)

dont be an idiot

You do realize you're running Windows, right?

Microflaccid strikes again (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20768599)

"I will gladly patch you Tuesday for something I broke today."

Re:Microflaccid strikes again (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 7 years ago | (#20769227)

Shouldn't that be "Microflaccid Strokes Again?"

Subconscious or stealth push to Vista? (2, Interesting)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 7 years ago | (#20768615)

I guess their focus & therefore resources will switch more and more to Vista, so this kind of thing will probably happen with increasing frequency.

Re:Subconscious or stealth push to Vista? (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 7 years ago | (#20768643)

"Nice PC you have here. Shame if something were to happen to it..."

Re:Subconscious or stealth push to Vista? (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#20768755)

True. They have a tough road ahead to make Vista live up to Win98. But seriously, I suspect that there are many great code advances in Vista, and that if it where not encombered by paranoid we-must-control-the-consumer DRM security model, it might actually be better than XP. As long as the consumer (vs corporate) is not Microsoft's actual customer, they will continue to offer the opertunity for user friendly Linux distros like Ubuntu to gain market share.

Re:Subconscious or stealth push to Vista? (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20769417)

They have a tough road ahead to make Vista live up to Win98.

*blink* Vista may be bad, but I cannot imagine that it's worse than a 9x based operating system. Live up to the rest of the NT line? Yes... Live up to the 9x line? It already does only by being part of the NT family. The two are worlds apart.

More likely a deliberate strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769113)

Subconscious or stealth push to Vista?

More likely a deliberate strategy to get people to buy Vista: "Oh, are you having problems with Windows XP? It's obsolete. Pay us more for something new, with it's own problems."

The problem with MicroSoft (5, Interesting)

phoenixwade (997892) | about 7 years ago | (#20768663)

This is the reason I support and use Linux. It started as a hobby, something to do with old equipment. But, now it's because of disclosure. I know what is being installed, and can choose when to update, what to update, and, If I've the time and inclination, I can take the update apart, see what it's doing, and even modify part of it.

Microsoft doesn't allow me this, and continues to fail to predict the negative consequences resulting from these choices. Apple at least gives me the option of installing an update, even though they have a bad record on the full disclosure thing too.

 

Re:The problem with MicroSoft (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768925)

I know what is being installed

You know whats installed, eh? So you go through and check the source of all code that is being installed on your Linux box? I understand the idea that because it is open source, there must be no problems with what you are installing, but don't make the false assumption of this, because as Linux becomes more and more popular the chance of something getting on your system that you were unaware of will most likely grow. Everything might not always be so hunkydory.

Re:The problem with MicroSoft (4, Insightful)

apparently (756613) | about 7 years ago | (#20769087)

at a minimum, if any given end-user doesn't have the time or ability to look at the source of each piece of code, there is a worldwide community of individuals who can pool their time and ability to dive into the source, and if anything suspicious or odd is going on, there's a good chance (at least compared to closed-source) that it will be found and reported. So even the Linux newbs who don't know source code from morse code still benefit. (disclaimer: naturally, it's not completely so rosy. Any given grandma isn't going to be looking up this information, but I think the point is still valid)

WTF (5, Insightful)

Ariastis (797888) | about 7 years ago | (#20768671)

Wasn't it for windows update to "work properly" that those patches were released? Way to go MS, foot in mouth, lather, rinse, repeat...

Re: Broken Process (5, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#20768805)

Maybe they forgot to rinse.

The lather-repeat caused a buffer overflow.

Re:WTF (1)

scjazz (906108) | about 7 years ago | (#20769579)

I just erased and reloaded my brand new vista laptop. The stealth update broke Windows Update completely. Since it isn't associated with a proper patch uninstalling wasn't an option and as this is my first Vista system I couldn't copy the files.

Serves them right! (1)

HartDev (1155203) | about 7 years ago | (#20768709)

Ha ha, it is like taunting a little kid with candy telling MS not to do something like this, now as odd as it may sound I hope they keep doing stuff like this so that all the company computers where I work will have troubles and then I can help all my IT buddies install some Ubuntu!

Been using this fix for ages. (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about 7 years ago | (#20768719)

I've been using this fix since before August for other windows update problems. Did notice an increase in how often I had to use it but didn't work out why.

Please? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768721)

I'm a bored housewife....I need to talk to spark my life up.
call me!!!
(740) 354-2095
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Mention my myspace page, and I just might show you my (.)(.)!!!!

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Re:Please? (0, Offtopic)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#20769093)

blah

Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (5, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20768739)

A dozen system files have been updated as part of this undocumented stealth update... and yet not a single antivirus software reported this. Why?

How do these antivirus programs know for sure that these updates were 'harmless' and 'normal behaviour'.

In light of this revelation, I think corporates must now take action against these antivirus firms for not preventing this breach. Let's see what Microsoft has to say to this 'harmless' update that allows users to 'know and be informed of further updates'. A Media Defender style expose' of internal communications on this issue would be very interesting indeed.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (2, Insightful)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20768845)

A dozen system files have been updated as part of this undocumented stealth update... and yet not a single antivirus software reported this. Why?
How do these antivirus programs know for sure that these updates were 'harmless' and 'normal behaviour'.
In light of this revelation, I think corporates must now take action against these antivirus firms for not preventing this breach. Let's see what Microsoft has to say to this 'harmless' update that allows users to 'know and be informed of further updates'. A Media Defender style expose' of internal communications on this issue would be very interesting indeed.

Updates are run under the system user process. If you had ever been a Windows admin, you'd know that there are all sorts of ways to hide updates and the like from users...which means that there's something in the process that MS can enable to hide it from their users. The reason no AV caught it is because it was using an update service already approved by the AV program and was running it under the already accepted system user.

I'm not saying that I approve of their actions, I don't. But just because an AV program didn't pick it up isn't surprising, nor should they have.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

sqlrob (173498) | about 7 years ago | (#20768973)

BITS has had known flaws. Why should AV give it a free pass?

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20769333)

I know that BITS had some flaws, though I can't remember them right now...if you could provide info on that, it's appreciated. :-)

But BITS is essentially a downloading program where Windows Update is there to...update Windows. Updating system files is a part of it's M.O. (modus operandi, for those not in the know).

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

sqlrob (173498) | about 7 years ago | (#20769395)

And it uses BITS, IIRC. Which means you definitely have the potential to install bogus updates. *NOTHING* should get a free pass.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20769511)

And how do you propose to do updates if the AV flags every system update? What MORE can the AV program do? Windows has chosen this way to update their files. The AV doesn't care if Windows Update tells the user if it's okay to install the program. All it cares about is that what is being done is happening with a trusted service by a trusted user.

As far as I remember, BITS had an exploit that was patched when discovered. Not saying that it can't have more or less, but how do you propose that updates get installed on Windows, because MS isn't giving you any options. What exactly are the AV companies supposed to do then? Stop WU from doing it's job? You'll have system admins going nuts because their scheduled roll-outs are being stopped by the AV program.

Ugh, I hate doing this...makes me sound like a MS apologist.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20769001)

Updates are run under the system user process. If you had ever been a Windows admin, you'd know that there are all sorts of ways to hide updates and the like from users

So, does an antivirus program run as a normal user process or system user process? If it is the latter, then how is it that the stealth update managed to escape attention??

And if antivirus s/w firms do not know systems programming, why do they exist at all? Looks like most anti-virus programs have been configured / patched NOT TO REPORT this particular stealth update... I cannot see any other logical explanation for this lapse.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (5, Informative)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20769193)

So, does an antivirus program run as a normal user process or system user process? If it is the latter, then how is it that the stealth update managed to escape attention??

And if antivirus s/w firms do not know systems programming, why do they exist at all? Looks like most anti-virus programs have been configured / patched NOT TO REPORT this particular stealth update... I cannot see any other logical explanation for this lapse

Like I mentioned, it seems that you have not ever been a Windows admin, nor have ever dealt with a large roll-out of a system patch.

Whether or not the AV program runs under a user process (highly unlikely) or a system process, it doesn't matter. You're ignoring what AV programs are looking for anyway. If a trusted process and service (windows update) run by a trusted user (SYSTEM), the chances that the AV program is even going to log such activity is doubtful. As far as the AV program is concerned, the service (Windows Update) is doing it's job...which in a way, it is. Windows Update has the control to change system files. No big secret there.

You seem to think that every time a system file gets updated by whatever process, that should be flagged and prevented. It's not some rogue program that is being run to update the files, it's the WU service that's on every single XP (and other MS OS's) machine out there.

Like I said, I'm not defending MS on this...no one I bitch about more. But to say that the AV companies have culpability on this, that's off the mark. A trusted Windows service did what it was built to do. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20769495)

As far as the AV program is concerned, the service (Windows Update) is doing it's job...which in a way, it is. Windows Update has the control to change system files. No big secret there.

I think you have it backwards. The job of Windows Update is (supposedly) to patch the system in order to keep it in a secure, useful state. Which is precisely the definition of an antivirus software too. If Windows Update can reliably patch the OS and keep it secure, there would be no market for any antivirus software.

Therefore, any antivirus program can only trust itself, not even Microsoft.. insofar as updating / modifying files that affect system behaviour is concerned.. for instance dll files, and other 'system' files. This is an elemntary function of any antivirus program, which is why if I log in as 'administrator' and even try to copy a dll file, I get a warning message from the antivirus software.

You seem to think that every time a system file gets updated by whatever process, that should be flagged and prevented. It's not some rogue program that is being run to update the files, it's the WU service that's on every single XP (and other MS OS's) machine out there.

Yes. Every time a system file is updated by any other program than the antivirus program itself, it should be flagged, and the user made aware of this updation. Else the antivirus is broken.

What if the WU service itself is the ROGUE PROGRAM?

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | about 7 years ago | (#20769593)

Actually, the reason that AV software doesn't pick this shit up is TOTALLY different than what you claim.

The reason AV software doesn't pick this crap up is that the current crop of AV software uses a BLACKLIST based model and not WHITELIST based model. Since AV software is blacklist based, there IS NO "trusted" anything. Once they move to a whitelist model, THEN we can start talking about what is "trusted" and what is not.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769435)

"The reason no AV caught it is because it was using an update service already approved by the AV program and was running it under the already accepted system user."

I don't do Windows so I'm no help but how about telling people what port these updates happen on so people can configure their firewall/routers to drop or block in/out traffic on that port until they are ready to do the updates themselves.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

Tsunayoshi (789351) | about 7 years ago | (#20768881)

Good point (no mod points or you'd get some.). Unregistered system DLLs didn't flag somewhere?

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (3, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | about 7 years ago | (#20768959)

A dozen system files have been updated as part of this undocumented stealth update... and yet not a single antivirus software reported this. Why?
1) Most antivirus software can only detect known viruses. They do not detect viral activity, only a numeric signature. Won't detect stealth updates, if that update doesn't match a signature.

2) For the few behavioral antivirus software, my guess is that they're monitoring activity under some user accounts, and that they're not able to monitor activity of the "System" accounts and other special accounts.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#20769179)

1) Most antivirus software can only detect known viruses. They do not detect viral activity, only a numeric signature. Won't detect stealth updates, if that update doesn't match a signature.

Every antivirus software I have seen, has this feature that prompts you when any 'write' or 'update' happens in the system folders. Try copying a dll file and the antivirus s/w throws up a window, asking for confirmation... in many cases, it is rejected outright. The logic is that any update to the system files can only be malicious in nature, since the system was behaving normally prior to these updates. This is totally different from scanning for 'signatures' in exe or com files elsewhere.

2) For the few behavioral antivirus software, my guess is that they're monitoring activity under some user accounts, and that they're not able to monitor activity of the "System" accounts and other special accounts.

Monitoring system accounts and special accounts is the first job of any antivirus software. Viruses, worms and trojans run with full system access, not restricted user access.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (5, Insightful)

Etrias (1121031) | about 7 years ago | (#20769277)

Monitoring system accounts and special accounts is the first job of any antivirus software. Viruses, worms and trojans run with full system access, not restricted user access.

If a virus or trojan has that access already, you're screwed anyway. Might as well wipe the box and start over. However, to get that access, they usually need an exploit or to run an executable to grant them that access.

I don't think you have a very good understanding of what a virus program is expected to do. If a system account isn't allowed the power to update system files, then why have it in the first place?

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769255)

If problem Microsoft code was caught by virus checkers then no Microsoft operating system would ever boot.

AVG usually does (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 years ago | (#20769437)

But because Microsoft updates system files so often, AVG just flags them as "changed" and notifies you as such. Also, most anti-virus tools are probably checking against a blacklist, not blocking any and all suspicious activity.

Re:Why did no antivirus s/w pick this up? (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 7 years ago | (#20769509)

The files in question are signed with Microsoft's own digital signature. Ergo (assuming no-one has stolen the signing files somehow and assuming no-one has been able to install a fake certificate by stealth) the files are genuine and are not viruses.

Whoa! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768741)

My PC dual-boots XP and Mandriva. I've set it to default to Windows, because windows boots over and over, sometimes for hours, before it finally relents and comes to life. I've suspected a BIOS setting it doesn't like, or that Windows wants its own FAT instead of LILO, but could it be that Windows is trying to phone home, even though my internet access has been shut off for a couple of months? Even though it's a fresh install and the PC hasn't been connected to the internet since before the install?

And do thay have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to "register" that God damned OS without internet access? If I could get the S-Video out to work with Linux, XP would be history on my PC.

I only hate Microsoft because I've used their shitty programs and operating systems. Funny, their stuff was pretty good fifteen or twenty years ago! I loved DOS 6.2!

-mcgrew [kuro5hin.org]

Re:Whoa! (1)

mattgreen (701203) | about 7 years ago | (#20768907)

Er, hate to break up your little rant but did you ever try actually troubleshooting your Windows problem? As in, checking the event log and other places to see why it restarted?

Re:Whoa! (1)

tdos20 (992697) | about 7 years ago | (#20769397)

You might want to check your /etc/X11/xorg.conf for a way to get your s-video out to work (also depends on what brand of video card you have so see the driver documentation)

Have to get away from the "patch" concept (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 7 years ago | (#20768749)

I'm not sure what the answer is, but someone has got to work out better technology for designing and updating operating systems. For thirty years now, we've had operating systems that only work as perfect integrated wholes, and operations called "installation" and "uninstallation" and "updates" and "patches" which are basically ad-hoc processes for which the operating system offers relatively little support.

Everything depends on everything else. After a few years of updates and software installation, whether on Windows or Mac OS X (no, I can't speak to Linux so if Linux solves all these problems I plead ignorance), almost every system is in a slightly broken state, and you just hope it isn't intolerably broken. Talk to any average mom 'n dad and they'll say "Things that used to work fine on our computer aren't working any more, I guess it's just time to buy a new computer."

Some new way of building operating systems is needed that reduces the interdependence of its components.

Re:Have to get away from the "patch" concept (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 7 years ago | (#20768849)

I've been stuck in RPM hell, but I've never had an issue upgrading Slackware from one version to the next, or Debian. Of the two, Debian is my choice for the nice things that apt does for me...

Re:Have to get away from the "patch" concept (1)

themassiah (80330) | about 7 years ago | (#20768949)

By doing this, unfortunately, you will also reduce the interoperability of the systems or introduce great gobs of bloat. These interoperability hooks assume certain things that can only (easily) be ascertained by precognition of the sytem at hand.

Re:Have to get away from the "patch" concept (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 7 years ago | (#20769177)

IMHO, this is what package managers solve, and Microsoft still hasn't gotten the idea right. In the Windows world, applications just drop files wherever they want and that's an install. In Linux using rpm or deb packages, every file on the system is part of a master database that indicates what package it is a part of, and what the interdependencies are. So long as everyone creates proper packages, these problems go away.

The down side is that many packages aren't created properly, which results in rpm hell like as-in dll hell. But done properly, it is utopia. (Properly -- No source code packages, no packages with incorrect version numbering like "2.0alpha" comes before "2.0", no "this package depends on a dozen files in some absurd directory that only appears in my distro")

Only repaired? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20768757)

If I'm reading this right, the problem is that the patch gets applied out of sequence if you 'repair' from the original CD.

Would the same issue not happen if you just installed from the CD from scratch? What prevents it from installing out of order when you do it that way?

Seems pretty serious either way, and it has me wishing I'd turned off the automatic update service on my only Windows PC. It's too late now, but you can bet it won't get internet access until after that's disabled when I format that machine next.

I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (4, Informative)

domatic (1128127) | about 7 years ago | (#20768761)

I ran into this a couple of weeks ago. When the attempt to use update.microsoft.com fails, the "troubleshooter" will direct you to a Knowledge Base article [microsoft.com] that advises you to do the following:

At the command prompt, type the following commands, press ENTER after each command, and then click OK every time that you receive a verification message: regsvr32 wuapi.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 wucltui.dll
regsvr32 wups2.dll
regsvr32 wups.dll
regsvr32 wuweb.dll


Once that is done, you'll be able to use Microsoft Update again.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 years ago | (#20768795)

Oh good and thanks. I'll call up my mom and tell her to do just that to her machine.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (1)

domatic (1128127) | about 7 years ago | (#20768839)

If you want to make it really easy for her, cut and paste those into a fix_update.cmd file. Tell her to run that and to just keep pressing OK until it is done.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20769461)

Just hope she doesn't use hotmail or some other email service that removes anything that looks remotely like an executable.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769515)

If you want to make it really easy for her, just cough up for a Mac. Or try Kubuntu or Xubuntu.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768835)

I guess the point is that the user shouldn't have to do this after an update.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768837)

So will Windows weenies stop complaining about Unix
having obscure command-lines and plain text configuration
files now?

Thought not.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (5, Funny)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 7 years ago | (#20768857)

"But at least Windows doesn't require you to go to the terminal and type cryptic and scary commands just to fix little problems..."
- oft-heard criticism of Linux

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769051)

But you don't have to go to the terminal (command prompt). Just create a batch file for family or friends, give it to them, have them double click, done. If someone is concerned that it might be blocked as an email attachment, just rename it with a DOC extension, and it is easy to do a Save As from the E-mail client once it has been received.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (2, Funny)

berashith (222128) | about 7 years ago | (#20769211)

wow, what a great idea. I think I am going to find a way to create list of commands that can be run instead of having users type the commands themselves. I will call this scripting. You windows people think of everything.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769433)

Wow, I think just about everyone on Slashdot knows what scripting is. I believe the GP point was to show that you don't have to go to a command prompt, as the GGP was trying to insinuate.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (5, Funny)

z0idberg (888892) | about 7 years ago | (#20769327)

reminds em of this little ditty:

from here: http://bash.org/?464385 [bash.org]
 

@insomnia >>it only takes three commands to install Gentoo

@insomnia >>cfdisk /dev/hda && mkfs.xfs /dev/hda1 && mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/gentoo/ && chroot /mnt/gentoo/ && env-update && . /etc/profile && emerge sync && cd /usr/portage && scripts/bootsrap.sh && emerge system && emerge vim && vi /etc/fstab && emerge gentoo-dev-sources && cd /usr/src/linux && make menuconfig && make install modules_install && emerge gnome mozilla-firefox openoffice && emerge grub && cp /boot/grub/grub.conf.sample /boot/grub/grub.conf && vi /boot/grub/grub.conf && grub && init 6

@insomnia >>that's the first one

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20769539)

"But at least Windows doesn't require you to go to the terminal and type cryptic and scary commands just to fix little problems..." - oft-heard criticism of Linux

Yeah, but this isn't a "little problem" so your criticism doesn't apply. HAH! See? One point for Microsoft! oh, wait...

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (3, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | about 7 years ago | (#20769595)

"But at least Windows doesn't require you to go to the terminal and type cryptic and scary commands just to fix little problems..."
- oft-heard criticism of Linux

Yeah... At least with Linux you know you're probably going to be messing around at the command prompt. I don't know how many times I've had a Windows machine do something odd, gone looking through the GUI for the magic checkbox that will fix things, only to eventually discover (through technical support or a KB article) that there's a command-line fix that isn't documented anywhere.

Frankly... These days I'm using the command prompt on my Windows machine just as often as I do on my Linux machine.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (2, Informative)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 7 years ago | (#20769085)

I ran into this a couple of weeks ago. When the attempt to use update.microsoft.com fails, the "troubleshooter" will direct you to a Knowledge Base article [microsoft.com] that advises you to do the following:

Go to http://windizupdate.com/ [windizupdate.com] with a supported (non-IE) browser.

Once that is done, you'll never have to use Microsoft Update again.

That's something you can tell your grandmother over the phone.

Re:I've run into this and the fix isn't hard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769129)

Create a file called fix.bat, paste the following into it then save the changes:

@echo off
regsvr32 /s wuapi.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll
regsvr32 /s wups2.dll
regsvr32 /s wups.dll
regsvr32 /s wuweb.dll

Now simply double click the file to apply the fix. No prompts, no confusing messages, just a brief view of the command prompt.

Re:use Dial-A-Fix (1)

Marbleless (640965) | about 7 years ago | (#20769569)

I've been seeing this problem for years and been using Dial-A-Fix to fix it up.

This problem with repair reinstalls isn't new.

I got bitten by this (4, Interesting)

arkhan_jg (618674) | about 7 years ago | (#20768809)

I'm actually in the process of upgrading a windows 2000 image to XP Pro (no, it can't be a clean install, it's a long and dull story), and got bit by this bug. When I searched for the error number associated with the windows update failure on technet, I did come up with technet article explaining how to register the windows update dll's to fix it (as also listed in the linked article). I just assumed it was an odd bug because of all the cruft in the windows 2000 install.

Now I find out it's because of a broken secret mandatory update to the DRM that breaks windows update altogether. Nice one Microsoft!

I had another bug after that windows update, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/883821 [microsoft.com]
That took a lot longer to fix, as none of those listed fixed it. Perhaps that was also related? Lovely.

Microsoft XP updates....same old story. (3, Interesting)

CodeShark (17400) | about 7 years ago | (#20768811)

We remember how the Win9X upgrade fiascoes resulted in so many new breakages that ultimately MS pulled the plug and went completely with the NT code base for Windows. So I am very cautious using MS supplied updates at all.

But earlier this year I had to allow a client's machine to use an XP service patch or be have to tell the user that the machine would be out of warranty both from the OEM and Microsoft.

The patch (SP2) froze the computer completely after an aborted install that the screen recorded as having been successfully uninstalled. It took nearly 20 hours of non-stop attempts plus two service calls to avoid having to wipe the disk -- which was not an option -- and afterwards the "Genuine Advantage" program still wants more updates.


Not surprisingly, I won't be recommending Microsoft on their next desktops. Ubuntu will be fine.

Re:Microsoft XP updates....same old story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769017)

We remember how the Win9X upgrade fiascoes resulted in so many new breakages that ultimately MS pulled the plug and went completely with the NT code base for Windows.

Er, what? I'm pretty sure things like security and stability were a little higher on Microsoft's 'reasons to move to NT' list than upgrade breakage.

Re:Microsoft XP updates....same old story. (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20769533)

We remember how the Win9X upgrade fiascoes resulted in so many new breakages that ultimately MS pulled the plug and went completely with the NT code base for Windows.

Revisionist history. The 9x line was scheduled for death long before that...

Windows 9x = 32 bit extensions and a graphical shell for a 16 bit patch to an 8 bit operating system originally coded for a 4 bit microprocessor, written by a 2 bit company, that can't stand 1 bit of competition. ;-)

microsoft == evil no matter what they do? (-1, Flamebait)

wwmedia (950346) | about 7 years ago | (#20768825)

yee people are never happy are yee? they dont update their product => microsoft == evil they do update their product => microsoft == evil seems its a no win situation no matter what they do

Re:microsoft == evil no matter what they do? (1)

changling bob (1075587) | about 7 years ago | (#20768939)

I think its more:

don't update -> evil
do update but break the OS at the same time -> evil

if it updated without any problems, I'm sure people wouldn't have any issues with it. Well, less issues anyway.

Re:microsoft == evil no matter what they do? (1)

wwmedia (950346) | about 7 years ago | (#20769049)

but this is slashdot, what would we complain about?

slashdot'ers need an "Evil empire" in the same way as US needed the Soviet "Evil empire" to keep population in control thru fear (same thing they are doing now with terrorism)

Re:microsoft == evil no matter what they do? (1)

mattgreen (701203) | about 7 years ago | (#20769491)

The kids need a lunch lady to hate. Otherwise they do not feel they fit in.

Groupthink is quite amusing when you think about it. I just love seeing the vehement rants against a software company. So much wasted passion for a mostly inept, overly corporate software company. You'd think they were out killing babies or clubbing baby seals. Twitter is the most extreme example of this, and one of those people who I don't believe really exists.

Re:microsoft == evil no matter what they do? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 7 years ago | (#20769155)

Wrong. It's

they do update their product without asking or telling you => microsoft == evil.

My experience (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 7 years ago | (#20768847)

In addition to Kubuntu, I am using WIndows XP professional and was not really sure my woes with the system were because of these stealth updates. But I can say that sound would automatically mute itself whether Windows Media Player or any other media player was playing or not.

I thought this was because of Skype, Windows Media Player, VLC Player or Real Player. I installed new versions of all of these apps but this did not help. I struggled with this problem and found little help, even from Microsoft itself. The good thing is that Windows XP has a [neat] feature that rolls the system back to its previous configuration. This is what I used and had this problem solved.

But I then wondered whether we in the Linux world have anything comparable to the feature that helped me roll back my settings in Windows XP Professional. I haven't found one! Have I looked hard enough of am I looking in the wrong places?

Re:My experience (2, Informative)

pintpusher (854001) | about 7 years ago | (#20769039)

I'm not trolling, seriously.

I can't speak to the internal reasons behind windows decision to include that feature (though I have a couple good guesses), but based on the number of people I know who think a backup is when the white lights come on at the back of the car, its a much needed feature. This is what backups are for people. No matter what OS. a proper backup scenario would allow recovery from any problem like this. In the linux world, due to plaintext config files and the modular nature of the system, you can even restore selective parts of the system and get back to a usable state pretty easily.

SO to answer your question about system restore in linux, just keep good backups of /etc, multiple kernels installed, and if you're really worried, or don't understand how to manually tweak your update system to allow rollbacks, then back up /[s]bin, and /usr/[s]bin and you're probably good. Its not that hard.

Re:My experience (1)

jack_csk (644290) | about 7 years ago | (#20769413)

In Linux, this "System Restore" feature is not as demanding as Windows. Basically, the configuration files are pretty obvious on Linux (mostly rested in /etc and your home directories), and the installed applications are pretty much modularized. People just have to backup the configuration file before they make the change.

On Windows, however, the idea of registry hives make it difficult to backtrack which file has been changed. The difference in philosophy behind may be the reason why you don't see the "System Restore" feature.

Surely, one would be able to roll his/her own with tar / cpio and crontab (regardless of the user-friendliness).

Are They Serious? (3, Insightful)

ThinkFr33ly (902481) | about 7 years ago | (#20768889)

Do these people realize that the ENTIRE POINT of Microsoft forcing the Windows Update patch was to make sure that future updates would trigger whatever policies the user had selected for the machine?

In other words, if Microsoft had not updated Windows Update automatically, and a user had chosen to be notified of future updates, these notifications would not work. The only way to ensure that the user's settings were properly respected was to update Windows Update.

So now this article says that the silent update wasn't harmless because Windows Update was broken after they did a restore. Do they realize that without this update, Windows Update *definitely* wouldn't work, and that the fact that this update may have a bug in it regarding restoration is completely besides the point?

Should Microsoft have made it more clear that they were doing an update? Yes. Is this update proof of Microsoft's desire to ignore user preferences and do whatever the hell they want? Obviously not.

Re:Are They Serious? (2, Interesting)

sqlrob (173498) | about 7 years ago | (#20769003)

So it warns that Windows Update is the one needing update. They've done it before.

Re:Are They Serious? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 7 years ago | (#20769419)

Do they realize that without this update, Windows Update *definitely* wouldn't work
It's been working fine for the past 5 years. Or are you saying it's always been broken?

Re:Are They Serious? Nope. (2, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | about 7 years ago | (#20769507)

What a long winded way to say the Windows update is such a horrible mess it isn't funny.

Me, I like rolled up file based updates. Download it and save it off. When the beta testers say it is OK, I apply. I have earned with over 20 OSes behind me that you patch to point in time from proven groups of patches. This idea of "auto" update is so fundamentally flawed...

Leave Microsoft alone. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768923)

How fucking dare anyone out there make fun of Microsoft after all it has been through?

Its stock price has stagnated. Google made Steve Ballmer mad. He threw two fucking chairs.

Ray Ozzie turned out to be a blogger, and now he's posting a bunch of comments. All you people care about is readers and making money off of them.

It's a corporation! What you don't realize is that Microsoft is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about it.

It hasn't made a good OS in years. Its spreadsheet is called "excel" for a reason because all you people want is EXCELLENCE! EXCELLENCE! EXCELLENCE!

LEAVE IT ALONE! You are lucky it even makes products for you bastards! LEAVE MICROSOFT ALONE!

Please!

CmdrTaco talked about professionalism and said if Steve Ballmer was a professional he would've monkey danced no matter what.

Speaking of professionalism, when is it professional to publicly bash a company who is going through a hard time?

Leave Microsoft alone, please.

LEAVE MICROSOFT ALONE RIGHT NOW. I MEAN IT.

Anyone that has a problem with it you deal with me, because it is not well right now.

LEAVE IT ALONE!

Re:Leave Microsoft alone. (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | about 7 years ago | (#20769447)

OK.. Chris Cracker. By the way, can I borrow your eye liner?

Conspira-cynic's speculation... (1)

dermusikman (540176) | about 7 years ago | (#20769005)

Maybe MS is trying to goad people (like IT professionals) into upgrading to Vista...

TRUST NO ONE

No one saw this coming... (2, Interesting)

Loosifur (954968) | about 7 years ago | (#20769013)

The thing about this "stealth update" that riles me up is that it's indicative of the patronizing, "we know better than you" attitude that Microsoft has towards its customers. They just decided that anyone running Windows would get this update and that's that. Now, wonder of wonders, it's causing problems. Does anyone really think that they'll address this problem in a reasonable, responsible way? Or will they just release ANOTHER patch at 3:00 in the morning to fix the first one?

Re: No one saw this coming... (2, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | about 7 years ago | (#20769351)

Sadly, for the vast majority of Windows users, the patronizing attitude is probably the least painful approach. Like most here on /., I don't take too kindly to MS slipping unauthorized patches onto my systems. But for mom, pop, and grandma, well what they don't know might be good for them. Telling them too much would just confuse them and result in expensive tech support calls. So MS rolls the dice that most won't have a problem with the update and won't care to know the details anyway.

I'm not saying people should be like this, but it is often the case.

what we don't know is gooed for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769031)

that includes the whoreabull behaviours of both the corepirate nazis, & their hired goons, the southern baptist life0cide movement.

Update Fix (1)

techintexas (1163017) | about 7 years ago | (#20769077)

At the good ole Tarleton State IT department we have seen this problem a lot this link has the best fix we have found so far: http://www.updatexp.com/0x80248011.html [updatexp.com] Give it a whirl. P.S. - Everyone hates the bully on the playground (Microsoft)

That explains the trouble I had! (2, Informative)

TheRealBurKaZoiD (920500) | about 7 years ago | (#20769103)

FTFA:

"This, in turn, prevents Microsoft's 80 latest patches from installing -- even if the patches successfully downloaded to the PC."

That the trouble I had recently! A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to clean up three of her family computers that were crawling with spyware/adware, and trojans, as well as upgrade them from WinXP Home to WinXP Pro. I got them cleaned up fine, and did the upgrade. After booting to the desktop the first time, I ran Windows Update to grab the latest patches. On all three machines, WU would install some needed components, reboot, download all outstanding patches (approximately 80+), and then fail on the install on every single update.

Windows Update would NOT run without erroring out. It took me a few hours to realize I had to manually re-register all of the components for windows update, after which I also had to delete ALL of the downloaded patches, as well as all of the $NTUninstallKBXXXXX stuff.

Then again, maybe I just did the update wrong three times in a row?

They already have a solution to this. (3, Insightful)

InfinityWpi (175421) | about 7 years ago | (#20769105)

And it should be obvious to anyone who knows the company... upgrade to Vista, and you won't have to worry about repairing your XP installation anymore!

Who says this is an -unintended- side effect?

complex systems==problems (1)

martin (1336) | about 7 years ago | (#20769131)

Like all complex systems any change will have 'interesting' side-effects.

And that (IMHO) is MS-Mindows main problem. It's too complex, and this is why there are so many issues with it.

End of story.

a necessary starting point for troubleshooting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769187)

Do people who don't disable the automatic updates have the intelligence to "shoot trouble"?

I mean... either you install windows patches because you're a 08/15 user who doesn't know better... ...or you blacklisted all IP's from Microsoft long ago when your Windows installation reached the point where everything worked and you lost interest in changing a running system.

I don't know... maybe Microsoft updates are the worst kind of spam one can receive...

interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769201)

I just ran a repair on an XP machine last friday and ran into no such problem. Windows Update ran just fine for me.

This will spur the Vista sales (2, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#20769273)

The stealth "upgrade" will make XP quite unstable. And MS will just say, XP has been end-of-lifed and Vista upgrade will fix the problems. Then Wall Street will get comfortable numbers about Vista sales. Things will continue as normal.

two words (1)

josepha48 (13953) | about 7 years ago | (#20769415)

class action

Yeah, I think this opens the door to a class action lawsuit, because someone could argue that they accessed their computer, without their permission, thus violating the computer abuse and fraud act.

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