Thursday, October 12, 2006

Microsoft update

It was Patch Tuesday this week, and so Micro$oft rolled out a new set of security patches. I hate Microsoft Update. I had severe computer problems when at the conference in Bologna, and the culprit turned out to be Microsoft automatic update that had hanged. And today, I've lost a couple of hours of good work time getting my laptop and the desktop I use at work updated.

Especially the laptop (running XP Professional) is a mess. It takes absolute ages. And I hate that a) you need to use IE to update b) you need to lower the safety and privacy levels for it to work c) you first need to add the etc. to your "trusted sites" list. Funnily, normally the IE7 trusted sites function comes with the "only allow secure (https) servers on this list" -option checked, but you even need to uncheck that, as the windowsupdate is on non-secure server...

Most computer users know to expect security updates on the second Tuesday of the month. If not from anything else, from the stories in the press that start to mount every month about a week after the Patch Tuesday that there is a yet another new vulnerability identified and perhaps Microsoft should speed up the release of the next patches and not wait for Patch Tuesday. And usually Microsoft refuses, because it wants to keep thigs clear and predictable.

Oddly enough, then, the Microsoft automatic updates thingy doesn't know about Patch Tuesdays. It shouldn't be too problematic to program it to check for updates on the morning of the second Wednesday each month. But, alas, it doesn't. It usually wakes up to it's task when I'm already manually updating the computer via IE, causing the whole thing somehow to slow down. I'm not sure if that's what happens, but I only manage to update my computer by turning the automatic updates off completely for the duration of the download and installation of updates.

On my old computer the microsoft update page didn't work at all. I occasionally downloaded updates manually and installed them, but since the process is supposed to be automatic, it is not easy to find which updates you have and which you don't. Also, you have no choice but to download and install every stupid update, even if they are for porgrammes you never use, like the abysmal Outlook. I once tried not to install the ones I thought I didn't need, but the automatic updater never stops nagging about it until you give in and install everything. And finally, now that the updates and security patches are installed, Firefox and Thunderbird are no longer set as default web and mail applications. Luckily these two can restore the setting when I restart them. This is yet another reason why I like Macs more and more...

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