Archive for Microsoft

Outlook.Com Is Down…. World Freaks

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 21, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re trying to log into Outlook.com aka Hotmail right now to check your e-mail and can’t, it’s not you. It appears that it’s them because Isitdownrightnow.com is reporting that the online e-mail provider is currently down:

Capture

So far there’s no word from Microsoft what’s going on or when it will be fixed. I’m working on getting those details at present. In the meantime, you’ll need to do something other than checking your e-mail.

UPDATE: The Xbox service status page shows that they have issues in terms of being able to log into their services. The reason why this is important is that the same services power Outlook.com. Thus this is a good place to look if you have an issue with Outlook.com.

UPDATE #2: Service has been restored.

 

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Microsoft To Once Again Force Windows 10 Updates Upon You

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 20, 2017 by itnerd

Those who are brave enough to be part of the Windows 10 Insiders Program which gives you access to the latest versions of Windows 10, one of which is due in April, have spotted something that is sure to upset a lot of Windows users. The details first popped up on Windows Supersite where people noticed in the updates section of the control panel, it says this:

“We’ll automatically download and install updates, except on metered connection (where charges may apply). In that case, we’ll only download those updates required to keep Windows running smoothly,”

So… What that means is I get force fed some updates that Microsoft feels are required, or I get force fed everything. Lovely. When Windows Supersite asked the folks in Redmond about this, here’s what they said:

“We don’t plan to send large updates over metered connections, but could use this for critical fixes if needed in the future.”

Clear as mud. No?

Here’s the thing. I have said that users should be installing updates to whatever OS they use. Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever. The thing is users should be in control of that. This model has Microsoft in control. That has led to me making a fair amount of money from people who have had automatic updates on Windows 10 go horribly sideways. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that as frankly, I should not be making money in that scenario because users should have the choice to install updates when and how they choose to. Simply force feeding updates down people’s throats in whole or in part is just an #EpicFail waiting to happen. In fact, I can think of this occasion where it already has happened.

 

Microsoft Flips The Bird To Snapdragon, Kaby Lake & Ryzen Users On Windows 7 and 8.1

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 17, 2017 by itnerd

It seems that Microsoft is back to their old tricks of doing anything possible to get people to use Windows 10. Even if it means infuriating their user base. A case in point are people who have the new cool processors on the block which are the AMD Ryzen, Qualcomm 8996, and Intel Kaby Lake series. For those users, Windows 7 and 8.1 is not an option. This came to light on this past Patch Tuesday when KB4012982 got pushed out to the wild and users of those processors noticed this:

Unsupported Hardware
Your PC uses a processor that isn’t supported on this version of Windows and you won’t receive updates.

Windows could not search for new updates
An error occurred while checking for new updates for your computer.
Error(s) found:
Code 80240037 Windows Update encountered an unknown error.

Their official resolution to this is to update to Windows 10. Or live with an unpatachable system that is open to getting pwned by anything and everyone.

#EpicFail

Here’s why I have a problem with this. No support to me means this:

“You are running on unsupported hardware. Do you want to continue anyway? y/n”

In other words, it may work. But if things go sideways, it’s on you. Thus you choose to run this configuration, don’t call us if you need help because you were warned that it might not work. That I would be fine with and so would most people. What Microsoft is doing is this:

“Your hardware is unsupported. Upgrade to Windows 10 OR ELSE”

I call that a cynical attempt to force users to Windows 10. If you take into account that there is no technical reason why Microsoft could not support these processors on Windows 7 or 8.1, that theory makes even more sense. The fact is that they only are interested in shoving Windows 10 down your throat. Though to be fair to Microsoft, they have said for a while now that they were going to do this.

Users are already finding ways around this though. The two most popular methods that are being floated about are to get updates via WSUS Offline or Autopatcher. Now these methods will work until Microsoft starts making their installers check to see what processor they’re running on, and then you’re back to having to potentially run an OS that you may not want to run.

Clearly Microsoft has jumped the shark.

PSA: Windows Vista Has Four Weeks Before It Goes EOL

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 14, 2017 by itnerd

The mistake from Redmond known as Windows Vista goes End of Life (EoL) four weeks today. If you’re running it for whatever reason, it really is time you bought a new computer. Or at least a new operating system. But you’ll likely be doing the former as the computer you’re running Vista on is likely not powerful enough for Windows 10.

So, why should you care? Let me list the reasons:

  • It will be a security nightmare as no more security related patches will come out for the OS or for Internet Explorer 9 which is the last version of IE that runs on the OS. That will leave you open to being pwned by hackers.
  • Applications are no longer being written or updated for the OS. So forget about running everything from Firefox to the latest copy of Office on Vista.

But if you don’t believe me, here’s the official Microsoft party line on the subject for your reading pleasure. I suggest that you take heed of these warnings and plan to update before April 11 which is the date the good times stop for Vista.

Massive Outage Hits Microsoft email, Xbox & Skype

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re trying to play a game on your Xbox, make a call with Skype or check your e-mail with Outlook.com, you’re likely had issues this morning because there is a massive outage for all of the above at this moment. Details from The Verge:

Microsoft Accounts have recovered from an hour-long outage that prevented users from signing into their accounts this morning. Large numbers of Xbox, Skype, and Outlook users complained they were unable to access their accounts, with the login prompt noting that an account doesn’t exist. The Verge tested a number of accounts, and we confirmed there were widespread issues worldwide for at least an hour.

Things seems to be working fine now, and Microsoft has acknowledged that this did happen. But the timing isn’t great after the great Amazon #fail from last week.

Microsoft Releases Patches For Adobe Flash Vulnerability…. Leaves Another One Unpatched

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

There’s some really strange behavior going on in Redmond these days. After not delivering their monthly stack of patches on Patch Tuesday for the first time that I can recall, the company has now released a patch to address a Adobe Flash vulnerability in Windows 8.1 and up as Flash patches are delivered by Microsoft and not Adobe in those operating systems. Specifically this one that I highlighted here last week. But the weird part is that an exploit that is in the wild that I spoke about recently is left unpatched. Seeing as that exploit is the more serious of the two, you’d think that Microsoft would do something about that first or at the same time as released this Adobe Flash fix. But I guess they’re waiting for March to deal with it as they’ve previously announced.

Hopefully, nobody gets pwned by a hacker who exploits this in the meantime.

Europe Still Doesn’t Like The Lack Of Privacy In Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 22, 2017 by itnerd

Microsoft has not had a great time with EU regulators and Windows 10, and those issues continue. An Article 29 Working Party which is meant to oversee data security in the EU, has questioned a number of issues with the OS, above and beyond those addressed by the adding features such as the privacy dashboard, which Microsoft introduced after lawsuits from Switzerland were threatened and ultimatums from France were fired out. Reuters has the details:

The watchdogs, a group made up of the EU’s 28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law, wrote to Microsoft last year expressing concerns about the default installation settings of Windows 10 and users’ apparent lack of control over the company’s processing of their data.

The group – referred to as the Article 29 Working Party -asked for more explanation of Microsoft’s processing of personal data for various purposes, including advertising.

“In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data,” the group said in a statement which also acknowledged Microsoft’s willingness to cooperate.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.

All I have to say is that they might want to not only consider addressing these concerns ASAP. The European Union when it comes to this sort of thing aren’t exactly a fun bunch of guys to deal with if you’re on the wrong side of an issue. And that would be really bad for Microsoft. Having said that, one wonders if other countries should be investigating Microsoft’s data collection practices? Clearly if the EU is concerned, so should other jurisdictions.