Archive for Microsoft

I Am Guessing That Microsoft Is Sensitive About Office 2016 Feedback…

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 28, 2016 by itnerd

…. And I say that because their Twitter account decided to respond to this tweet:

Now, what he’s trying to say is that 2016 has been the worst year yet. Likely because of all the famous people who passed away in 2016, or the US election, or both. But I don’t read minds. Neither does Microsoft apparently as they thought he was referring to Word 2016 which is part of Office 2016 when they responded to him:

#Fail.

If you read the tweets that follow, it’s clear that this has now become an epic joke at the expense of Microsoft. Now it’s clear that they’re using a piece of software like Radian6 or Hootsuite which is simply trolling for anything having to do with the Office 2016 suite. But instead of applying some common sense, or perhaps consulting the Urban Dictionary, they are now the ones being trolled.

Microsoft CMO Admits To Going Too Far With Forcing People To Update To Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 23, 2016 by itnerd

Microsoft just did something that I thought they would never do. They admitted that they might have gone too far in terms of forcing people to update to Windows 10:

Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, said in the latest edition of the Windows Weekly that this was the moment when the company indeed went too far, pointing out that the two weeks between the moment when users started complaining about the unexpected behavior and the one when a patch was released were “very painful.” “We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective, but finding the right balance where you’re not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right, but there was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means you cancel didn’t mean cancel,” he said. “And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have we knew that we had gone too far and then, of course, it takes some time to roll out the update that changes that behavior. And those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us. We learned a lot from it obviously.”

I’m guessing that too many people were running to the Apple Store to buy Macs.

But here’s the core problem. Capossela said this:

We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective…

To be successful a company should NEVER let ‘what they want’ get in the way of ‘what the customer wants’. It is a pretty simple concept. But when a company gets way too powerful in their position this sort of crap happens. This is a textbook case of that. Hopefully they do learn from this and make the required improvements.

Now, how about applying this logic to force feeding updates to your users? Such as the one from a few days ago that took people off the Internet?

Microsoft Fixes Windows 10 DHCP Issues

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 14, 2016 by itnerd

Yesterday I ranted wrote about the fact that a Microsoft update effectively knocked Windows 10 computers off the Internet. In the same article, I also provided a fix that worked for my customers and I said this:

In an ideal world, Microsoft would fess up to this and offer up a remedy. But as I type this, they haven’t. That’s a #fail on Microsoft’s part. I guess it’s easier for them to just pretend that this issue doesn’t exist. And that’s a shame.

Well, it appears that Microsoft has offered up a remedy and kind of fessed up to the issue. In the original article, I linked to a Microsoft web page from their discussion forms that says that they were investigating the issue. It has since been updated to say this:

Update (12/13/16):

KB3206632 was released to resolve this issue. Customers should first take the steps above if they are unable to connect to the Internet, and then install the update. You can manually check for updates by clicking Settings, Update& Security,Windows Update and click Check for Updates. Click the Update History button to verify it if has already been installed. For most others, KB3206632 will be installed automatically. Visit the Windows Update FAQ for more information on keeping your PC up to date.

Note: This issue is limited to PCs running Windows 10 version 1607 that have not been restarted recently, and with network adapters unexpectedly showing an IP address in the 169.x.x.x range.

So I dug into what this patch does. Here’s what it says that even remotely matches this issue:

  • Addressed a service crash in CDPSVC that in some situations could lead to the machine not being able to acquire an IP address.

Of course, Microsoft assumes that people would see this on their discussion boards and take action by downloading this on a computer that was still on the Internet, sticking the update onto a USB stick to install onto the malfunctioning computer. Because they’re sure not getting this via Microsoft’s Software Update mechanism seeing as the computer was knocked off the Internet. But that isn’t what happens of course. I say that because in this case, the computer gets punted off the Internet. The person who owns the computer can’t fix it and someone like me gets a phone call. I fix it and hand the person who owns the computer (or in some cases computers) a bill. Maybe those bills should go to Microsoft as this could have been easily mitigated if users had the ability to not be force fed updates as forced Windows 10 updates are a horrible idea.

Speaking of Microsoft. I’d like to direct this paragraph to them. It’s nice to assume that the code that you release to users is solid. But there are times that it isn’t. That’s life. I get that. And as a result, users need have the option to be told that an update exists, but defer installing it a day or two to see if an early adopter who installed the update the second it was available broke his computer and raged about it online. If you allowed Windows 10 users to do that, you would not be getting all this bad press right now because you broke their computers and potentially cost them money to fix them. I don’t think your forced update strategy is really working for your users. Thus maybe you rethink that strategy before something really, really bad happens.

Just some free and friendly advice for you.

Windows 10 Update Could Kill Your Ability To Connect To The Internet

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 13, 2016 by itnerd

Over the last couple of days, my phone has been ringing off the hook from Windows 10 users who can’t get their computers to surf the Internet. Thus since Sunday, I’ve been running around to fix all these misbehaving PCs. The symptom set is similar. The computers are completely unable to get an IP address using the DHCP protocol which is responsible for automatically assigning addresses to computers, smartphones or whatever else happens to be on your network. Essentially, the PCs cannot automatically pick up their LAN-side IP address, router address and DNS settings from their routers, causing them to drop off the Internet.

After fixing the third one (I will get to how I did that in a second), I figured that there had to be something in common. So I used my best friend Google to see if there were any other reports of this phenomenon. Sure enough there was as Microsoft had posted this in their help forums saying that they were investigating a problem with DHCP and Windows 10, and their official advice being to restart the computer as a first step to troubleshoot. Their next piece of advice as restarting the computer didn’t work in any of the cases that I worked on is to walk through this troubleshooting guide. Now this will actually help you as in it are a set of commands that helped to get all of my clients back on line:

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type Command prompt, press and hold (or right-click) Command prompt, and then select Run as administrator > Yes.
  2. At the command prompt, run the following commands in the listed order, and then check to see if that fixes your connection problem:
    • Type netsh winsock reset and press Enter.
    • Type netsh int ip reset and press Enter.
    • Type ipconfig /release and press Enter.
    • Type ipconfig /renew and press Enter.
    • Type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter.

One thing that Microsoft forgot to mention is to restart the computer. But without fail, doing this got all the clients who had issues back online.

Now the question is what caused this to happen. Well, here’s my best guess. Microsoft pushed out the new cumulative KB3201845 update for the Windows 10 about four days ago that delivers a range of fixes for the operating system. The timing of this update is weird as today is Patch Tuesday and you would have thought Microsoft would have released this update then. What’s also weird is that there is no mention of any network related fixes in the release notes for this update. However, that’s no surprise as Microsoft isn’t all that forthcoming about what’s in their updates as I have noted in the past. But what is clear is that the timing of this update coming out and my phone starting to ring fits. Unfortunately, consumer users cannot stop Windows 10 updates from installing (which underlines yet again why I thought that forced Windows 10 updates were a horrible idea), but if you run one of the corporate versions of Windows 10, you may want to block this update from hitting your users machines.

In an ideal world, Microsoft would fess up to this and offer up a remedy. But as I type this, they haven’t. That’s a #fail on Microsoft’s part. I guess it’s easier for them to just pretend that this issue doesn’t exist. And that’s a shame.

Microsoft Scores Wins With Those Who Are “Disappointed” With New MacBook Pro

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 12, 2016 by itnerd

In a blog post, Microsoft has announced November was its best month ever for consumer Surface sales. Part of that was likely driven by a trade in program aimed at MacBook Pro/Air owners where those owners could get up to $650 USD if they traded in a MacBook Pro/Air notebook for a Microsoft Surface Book or Surface Pro 4. Here’s what Microsoft sees as the key reason for its success:

More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before. Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro – especially among professionals – is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface, like this. It seems like a new review recommending Surface over MacBook comes out daily. This makes our team so proud, because it means we’re doing good work.

The MacBook Pro hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews since its introduction. On top of the USB-C fiasco that Apple had to make go away, and the fact that the solid state drive is soldered directly to the main board, and the battery life isn’t close to what Apple says it should be, low repairability scores from iFixit, problems with the three finger drag gesture, problems with the GPU, there have been problems with Boot Camp which have been since fixed. Not exactly the sort of good news that makes people want to buy these new notebooks. I’m pretty sure that there’s going to be a few difficult conversations taking place at 1 Infinite loop today over this news.

Ten Top Exploits Of 2016 Exist Via Adobe Flash Or Microsoft Products

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 8, 2016 by itnerd

I am no fan of Adobe Flash because of how insecure it is. And a report from On The Wire illustrates this fact perfectly. Six of the top ten exploits in 2016 leveraged bugs in Flash:

Six of the top 10 most-refquently targeted vulnerabilities in the last year were in Flash, while the other four were in Microsoft products, including IE, Windows, and Silverlight. Flash has been a favorite target for attackers for a long time, for two main reasons: it’s deployed on hundreds of millions of machines, and it has plenty of vulnerabilities. Recorded Future’s analysis shows that trend is continuing, and one Flash bug disclosed October 2015 was incorporated into seven individual exploit kits. The flaw was used by a number of high-level attackers, including some APT groups.

Flash gets targeted because 95% of potential victims are running the same Flash plugin with the same vulnerabilities. And because HTML5 hasn’t yet completely taken over, one may have no alternative other than to run Flash to see the content that they want. It also gets targeted because Adobe for whatever reason cannot properly secure it and hackers know that. Thus the only way to really protect yourself is to dump Adobe Flash.

As for the fact that Microsoft products are the other four exploit vectors, here are my thoughts on that:

  1. Silverlight which was meant to be a competitor to Flash is basically a dead product as Microsoft no longer supports it. If you still have it on your system, you should really remove it. Trust me, you won’t be missing anything by not having it on your system. Except for the odd exploit which isn’t a bad thing.
  2. If you use IE (Internet Explorer), you should if possible move to another browser such as Edge for Windows 10, Chrome or Firefox.If you can’t, the best defense is to make sure your Windows systems are always fully patched as patches for IE are always part of Windows patches.
  3. If you run Windows, the best defense is to make sure your Windows systems are always fully patched.

If you do all of that, you can likely sleep somewhat better at night.

 

Microsoft Has Great Gift Ideas As Part Of Their 12 Days of Deals

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 2, 2016 by itnerd

Beginning Monday, December 5 at 12 a.m. ET through Friday, December 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET, microsoftstore.ca customers can take advantage of a series of incredible, one-day only savings on the technology at the top of everyone’s with list, with new deals available each day starting at 12 a.m. ET. And, don’t forget – when you shop at microsoftstore.ca you’ll get free shipping and free returns on every item, every day.        

Here’s the 12 Days of Deals that are on offer:

  • Day 1 – Save up to $500 on select Intel PCs, starting at $349
  • Day 2 – Buy a Lenovo Ideapad 110 for only $269, save $130
  • Day 3 – Save 50% on select Xbox One games, starting at $24.99
  • Day 4 – Surface bundle! Save $400 on Surface Book i5. Get a $100 Microsoft Store promo code, free sleeve, and extended warranty
  • Day 5 – Buy select Windows 10 Tablets starting at $74, and save up to 60%
  • Day 6 – Save up to $300 on the Windows Premium Collection, starting at $799
  • Day 7 – Get a $25 Microsoft Store promo code with purchase of select Xbox Wireless Controllers
  • Day 8 – Get two free select games with select Xbox One console, and save big on games and accessories
  • Day 9 – Get a $100 Microsoft Store promo code with purchase of an HTC Vive or Oculus (Oculus is an online offer only)
  • Day 10 – Save up to $330 on select Intel powered gaming PCs, starting at $1099
  • Day 11 – Save up to $500 on select Dell PCs, starting at $319
  • Day 12 – Get a free type cover and select sleeve with Surface Pro 4 i5 128GB, $249 in savings

Get more details on the 12 Days of Deals here.