Archive for Microsoft

Have A Microsoft Band? You Might Be Able To Get Your Money Refunded…

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 4, 2019 by itnerd

According to The Verge, Microsoft is waving the white flag when it comes to their Microsoft Band fitness tracker and associated services. Everything related to the Microsoft Band will be gone as of May 31st. That means no back end services, and the apps being removed from their app stores. Keep in mind that Microsoft had already stopped selling the fitness tracker. Thus this isn’t exactly a shock. So some notes:

  1. Export your data before the May 31st deadline or it will be gone forever.
  2. You should still be able to record daily steps, heart rate, and workouts, alongside activity data, sleep tracking, and alarm functionality. But if you reset the band, you won’t be able to set it up again after that date.
  3. Microsoft is letting active users who have synced data from a Band to the Health Dashboard between December 1st 2018 and March 1st 2019 apply for a refund on their hardware. And the refund values are generous.

So, I do have one question. Did anyone actually buy one of these? I’d love to know.


Have A Windows 10 Phone? Microsoft Suggests You Switch To iOS Or Android ASAP

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 18, 2019 by itnerd

If you still have a Windows 10 phone which runs the Windows 10 Mobile OS, you should know that Microsoft is winding down support on December 10, 2019. And their official advice as to what you should do next can be found in a Windows 10 Mobile support document:

With the Windows 10 Mobile OS end of support, we recommend that customers move to a supported Android or iOS device. Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, compels us to support our Mobile apps on those platforms and devices.

A big reason for that is that Microsoft will stop issuing security updates and patches for its now abandoned OS. Microsoft says that you could still use the device after December 10th. But seriously, why would you. If they’re saying switch to Team iPhone or Team Android, you should just do it.

#PSA: Windows 7 Extended Support Ends In Exactly One Year’s Time

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 14, 2019 by itnerd

If you still run Windows 7 because you have not made the jump to Windows 10…… Which if you have not made the jump I don’t blame you seeing as Microsoft’s QA in reference to the last two Windows 10 feature updates has been sub optimal….. Then consider this to be your two minute warning.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended back in January 2015, but extended support which requires Microsoft to continue to deliver updates and fixes any vulnerabilities in the OS, runs for a further five years. Those five years end one year from now. As in January 14, 2020. Therefore you have one year to get off Windows 7 and onto Windows 10. Or flip to another OS such as macOS. Not that Apple’s QA is any better at the moment. But consider yourself warned that your days on Windows 7 are numbered.

If I Were You, I Would NOT Install Any Of The Patch Tuesday Patches For Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 11, 2019 by itnerd

Many Microsoft Windows 7 users are reporting a pair of issues after this week’s Patch Tuesday release. They are serious enough that I would recommend avoiding updating your system until they get sorted. The issues stem from KB4480970, and the security-only update, KB4480960, for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. The updates seem to cause serious network issues for some people. Network shares can no longer be used via SMBv2 in certain environments. That is a major #Fail as SMBv2 is used by a whole lot of people because SMBv1 is very insecure.

The second issue revolves around the fact that Windows 7 PCs all over Hell’s half acre are reporting themselves as being “Not Genuine”. As in you’re running pirated software when you actually aren’t. Microsoft has since confirmed that “some users are reporting the KMS Activation error.” The good news here is that Microsoft is working on a fix and will provide an update when it’s available. But until fixes for either issue are available, I would recommend avoiding Microsoft’s latest updates as clearly their software quality issues which I’ve talked about before extend beyond Windows 10.




#Fail: Windows 10 Activation Servers Forcing Downgrades From Windows 10 Pro To Windows 10 Home

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 8, 2018 by itnerd

Well this is embarrassing.

Users on Reddit are sounding the alarm that when booting into their Windows 10 PCs this morning, they are being met with a deactivated machine as Microsoft’s activation servers seem to have decided to misbehave. The core symptom is that that those affected are being asked to install Windows 10 Home instead, as their Pro license apparently no longer works. So if you see something like this hit your PC, don’t reinstall your OS. It appears those affected are users who upgraded using older Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 product keys. Devices that shipped with Windows 10 Pro appear to be unaffected at this time.

Microsoft support says that this is an issue caused by its activation servers, and that the problem will be resolved soon. How soon nobody knows. If I get any info on that front, it will be posted here.

Microsoft’s Software Quality Has Become An #EpicFail

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 26, 2018 by itnerd

Almost a year ago, I called out Apple because their ability to QA their software was so horrific, that macOS shipped with an extremely dangerous flaw that somehow was never caught by their QA department. Apple has yet to fully recover from that as many other embarrassing issues cropped up after that. But fortunately for them the spotlight has been moved away from them and onto Microsoft because of their incredibly buggy October 2018 update which deleted your data. It was so bad that Microsoft had to stop the rollout of the update. But that wasn’t the only screw up by Microsoft. The April 2018 Update was a disaster as many of my clients got hit by the numerous bugs in that update.

Clearly Microsoft’s ability to QA their products is in trouble. But to be truthful it’s been in trouble for a while. To illustrate that, let me take you back to 2014. Microsoft decided that dedicated QA testers were obsolete. And thus many of them were laid off. Crowdsourcing testing efforts were thought to be much better approach according to the brain trust in Redmond because you could just give pre-release versions of the software to thousands of people, they’d test it in the real world and trip over stuff that QA types never could, and the world would be perfect. Which led to the birth of the Microsoft Insider Program.

Except that it isn’t perfect.

Windows 10 which has thousands of people who don’t work for Microsoft testing it is a complete and utter mess. It’s so much of a mess that since the gong show of an update that the April 2018 Update was, I’ve actively recommended to my clients to sit and wait until the dust settles on any feature update before installing. That could easily be two or three months after it is released. Which I bet isn’t what Microsoft envisioned when they came up with Windows 10 and the concept of “feature updates” that come out with two or three times a year with shiny new features to make you think that Windows 10 is cool.

Clearly outsourcing software testing via crowdsourcing isn’t working for Microsoft. So, how do you fix it? Here’s my suggestions:

  1. Reintroduce dedicated testers who work for Microsoft: Live humans working for Microsoft who fully understand the product are what is needed right now as they have background to look for and find issues. If properly managed, they will help to address this issue.
  2. Kill the Insider Program: What is not needed is a bunch of fanboys who are going to get the latest pre-release version of Windows 10, install it and only report something to Microsoft that interferes with their ability to play Call Of Duty. That’s because unlike dedicated QA testes they don’t have the background to actually find issues and report them. Thus this program serves no useful purpose and needs to die as soon as possible.
  3. Rethink the concept of feature updates: What’s also not helping is this whole concept of “feature updates” that come out twice a year. Instead, they should focus on issuing updates that actually work and when they are ready to be released. Maybe that is one update a year. Maybe that six smaller updates. Who knows? But this two or three update cadence isn’t working for them at the moment.

Here’s what is going to happen if Microsoft doesn’t change course on this front. It will be a similar situation as the early 2000’s where Microsoft became such a joke that people were just stampeding towards Apple stores buying Macs right left and center. That’s something that Microsoft cannot afford right now. Thus they need to admit that they have a serious QA problem and take steps to address it before it is too late for them to recover. Because right now, their software quality is a not only a #EpicFail, it’s a joke.


Recently Outed Windows Exploit Now Actively Being Used By Evil Doers

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 6, 2018 by itnerd

Frequent readers will recall that a pretty bad vulnerability in Windows was disclosed on Twitter last week that had the potential to be really bad if the bad guys stated to exploit that if Microsoft didn’t come up with a quick fix.

Guess what, the forces of evil have started to exploit it.

ESET’s Matthieu Faou has disclosed on Wednesday that a group of hackers called PowerPool is actively exploiting the bug to move from hijacked user accounts to full system administrator-level control of already infiltrated Windows boxes. Which of course is very, very, very bad. Because chances are if these guys are leveraging tis bug, there are others who are leveraging this bug as well. Thus Microsoft now more than ever needs to step up and address this before this becomes extraordinarily bad.