The most interesting part of today's announcement that an IE7 release candidate is now available is the almost complete lack of news. If you're using a previous beta version, the upgrade is a must; for everyone else, it's a yawn.
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Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
Two weeks ago, I reported on widespread problems with Microsoft's Automatic Updates and Windows Update services. Microsoft confirmed those problems a few days later, assuring Windows users that the delays in downloading updates were "perfectly normal." I've put together a new image gallery that illustrates substantial problems with Microsoft's update process. But they're not willing to talk about it.
If you walk into a retail store, you'll find shrink-wrapped copies of Windows on the shelves for as much as $299. But these days, you can a whole PC for that amount of money. As a result, consumers have a distorted view of what Windows should cost. Do Microsoft's artificially high retail prices encourage piracy and discourage legal upgrades?
Microsoft has a browser toolbar. So does Google. Microsoft has a blog-authoring tool. So does Google. One is surprisingly open, the other is mostly closed. Guess which is which?
Didn't get your August updates yet? Microsoft says this is "perfectly normal." They also acknolwedge that they've prioritized delivery of the highly-publicized MS06-040 patch. But they aren't providing any more details about the slowdown.
I first reported on apparently widespread problems with Microsoft's Windows Update and Automatic Update services on Saturday. Since then, I've heard numerous confirmations of problems from others. I've sent e-mail to Microsoft requesting comment. Meanwhile, here's the result of some more testing I've done in the past 24 hours.
Millions of people rely on Microsoft's Automatic Updates and Windows Update to deliver critical security patches. But four days after this month's Patch Tuesday, those updates are not being delivered for many Windows users. Windows Update log files point to "heavy download traffic" as the culprit. Are Microsoft's servers collapsing under the load?
When Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage software kicks in and identifies your copy of Windows as "non-genuine," what happens next? On the surface, at least, Microsoft is all tea and sympathy: "You may be a victim of software counterfeiting," says the official message that takes over the Windows startup screen. But that's a funny way to treat a victim, because everything in the WGA experience is intended to get you to open your wallet and pay for a new product key and Windows CD, even if you already own a perfectly legal license. I've got all the details here.
Arrrggghhh! Microsoft has finally tagged my phony copy of Windows XP. I'm officially a pirate now and can finish my in-depth report on WGA. Meanwhile, here are some comments on my latest post, many of them betraying a misunderstanding of Windows licensing, Windows Product Activation, and WGA. I've responded to some of the most interesting comments here.
I just experienced a Windows Genuine Advantage failure. Only it’s not a false positive, like the horror stories I’ve been hearing for nearly two months now. No, I just installed a pirated copy of Windows using a stolen product key, and Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage tool says I'm perfectly legal. The whole story reveals a lot about how poorly the WGA program is being run.