Windows Update - Endless Buffoonery

Windows Update - Endless Buffoonery

Summary: I never cease to be amazed, amused, entertained and disgusted.I booted Windows 7 Stupor Edition on my Samsung NF310 this morning, and I am sure that I have not done that since sometime before the latest "Patch Tuesday", so I figured that I would install the patches while I had the chance.


I never cease to be amazed, amused, entertained and disgusted.

I booted Windows 7 Stupor Edition on my Samsung NF310 this morning, and I am sure that I have not done that since sometime before the latest "Patch Tuesday", so I figured that I would install the patches while I had the chance. I went to Windows Update, Check for Updates, and after a huge amount of thrashing about, it came back and informed me that my system was up to date. That is obviously incorrect, which didn't surprise me much coming from Microsoft, so I just told it to go check again. Even more thrashing about this time, for a much longer time, and while it was struggling with that I happened to notice the icon for Windows update in the system tray. I moved the mouse to that, and it informed me that Windows was downloading updates, 81% complete... Well, at least it found them this time. I thought. But then even Windows Update managed to surprise me, which is quite a feat considering how low my opinion of it is... After quite a bit more time, the "Check for Updates" that I had started for the second time finally came back and informed me that my system was up to date!

Good work, Microsoft, you are doing a spectacularly good job. You must be so proud of yourselves, and the quality software that you produce and charge money for.

Meanwhile, as I have been typing this, the icon in the system tray popped up a balloon saying that downloads have been downloaded and are ready to install. Whether or not that is really true is anyone's guess. I won't be surprised if I go back to Windows Update and it tells me again that there are no updates to install.


P.S. After I posted this, Windows Update finished installing "7 Important Updates" and demanded a reboot. I rebooted, and then went in to look at the update history. While I was doing that I noticed that the dreaded Update Icon was back in the system tray. I moved the mouse over it, and it said "1 Important Update Available"!!!! Indeed, one update that is SO important that it couldn't be installed along with those seven other "Important Updates"? Sigh. So I let it install that one update, and lo and behold, when it finished it once again demanded a reboot! Excellent, outstanding, wonderful, fantastic work, Microsoft. It makes me very glad about the title I chose for this post:

Noun 1. buffoonery - acting like a clown or buffoonbuffoonery - acting like a clown or buffoon clowning, harlequinade, japery, prank, frivolity foolery, tomfoolery, lunacy, craziness, folly, indulgence - foolish or senseless behavior

Ah, that's exactly what I meant - foolish or senseless behavior.


Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Jamie:
    It gets worse. For my work I need to install the dotNet frameworks (with a lot of other stuff). So I do that. Each framework requires a reboot AND they have to be installed by themselves AND they are typically 250 to 500 MB in size. There are at least 4 frameworks, not counting the compact one or the "client profiles". Then you get the Service packs which are cummulative ie Service Pack 2 doesn't install until SP1 is installed. Then there are numerous patches which usually don't require a reboot but the framework SPs usually do.

    Then you go back and check if the frameworks need more patches, and Oh BTW, they have 4 OPTIONAL patches. So you install those. Run Upgrade again and whoops now there are 4 or 5 security patches that are NOT optional, they are termed as serious. WTF? You mean I just installed 4 optional patches and got 4 or 5 serious security issues installed? This is WITHOUT installing anything else in the meantime.

    Please note that along with dotNet I have Visual Studio 2010 and 2005 installed, Expression Web Studio 3 and 4 (FrontPage replacement), chunks of Office components, Sharepoint Designer, etc and they all need patches and service pack updates.

    Its freaky scary every Patch Tuesday. I don't allow it to happen automatically because Microsoft over the years has let dotNet 1.1 framework continue as a "upgrade". EVERY time it gets loaded by mistake, it trashes my machine. It did it in XP Pro every time. I'm scared that it will do it in Win 7 32 bit. As far as I know Microsoft doen't support dotNet 1.1, why the h*** is it still offered as an "upgrade"? (meant to be rhetorical.)

    So yes I agree with you. Windows is a disaster. The only reason I put up with it is because Windows indirectly makes my paycheck every payday. As I used to say, as long as they keep screwing it up, I'll have a job.
  • mileswade :

    Your comment at the end about "Windows indirectly makes my paycheck every payday" is all too true. I hear this comment on a regular basis from colleagues and admit the same myself. If things were not constantly breaking, there would be less work to do in fixing things. However, from a business perspective, management should be aware and make the right decision. Should they pay their IT staff to stick around fixing things for software that is used by a majority of the world, or invest in their IT staff and educate them of more robust systems and change to something that is used less in the world, which would free up time fixing things and allow for business development? It's a tough choice, one in the lap of many businesses today.

    I've found Microsoft Exchange and Outlook to be top on the list of resource utilitisation, not the resources on the server side but support resources. Just about every day there is some sort of fire(s) to be put out relating to Outlook and/or Exchange. I find it needing constant attention of some sort, as with many Microsoft products.
  • Years ago I was an IT admin on a Win2000 server system along with other duties and Monday AM was the absolute worst. Somebody's email account was busted or they didn't get an email they were expecting or some jerk sent a porno movie as an attachment, etc etc. I finally found a solution. I shut off Exchange late Friday evening, disconnected it. Came in an hour early on Monday AM and watched what came in. I modified the Exchange rules for attachments, access etc. until I had the right mix. It took 7 weeks to get everything running without complaint. It was not only the rules that had to be set but also the order in which they were applied to the incoming traffic. I've hated Exchange essentially since then.

    One rule though saved a lot of grief almost immediately, no attachments larger than 1MB. The second most effective rule was no MOV, MPG, etc, ie no movies. This was a long time ago email was still an exciting toy to play with and all the managers did.
  • Jamie - I do enjoy your windows-update rants, but don't you think it's time to cut Windows from your life? It was two years ago with Win7 - I found I used windows so infrequently that the updates really were a pain. We've been largely windows-free for about 3 years, and I find it easier to find a work-around rather than suffer the constant problems with actually running the system.

    Maybe it's easy for me to say this, as I don't on the whole work with computers. But could you not use a VM?

    duncan j murray
  • @duncanjmurray - I would SO love to banish Windows (along with anything and everything else that comes from Microsoft) from my life. The first problem with that is that I am forced to work with Windows in my "day job", and when I am "on-call standby" I have to be able to connect and login to the office from home (or wherever I might be). While I have tried to get that working, and keep it working, from my Linux systems, it has been intermittent at best. A large part of that problem is that may well be related to the fact that the entire infrastructure at work is in transition from WinXP to Win7, so it is basically a "moving target" at the moment, but even before that it was tedious, fragile and prone to breaking when packages were updated. I finally decided that it was easier to keep a Windows partition around which I could use for that, and the occasional other things that demand Windows. Besides, I need something to remind me from time to time how truly awful, stupid and incompetent Microsoft really is.

    I investigated using a VM at one point, but the underlying problem remains - whether you are running Windows native or hosted/virtual, you still should keep it up to date at least with security patches, so you are still cursed with Windows Update. What I really should do is try to find out if I can do everything I need with WINE, so I could use the tools that I need without having to run Windows at all. But I have tried that several times over the years, and it always fell short.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.

  • Had my first experience of Windows 7 Update breaking a machine this week which had to be restored from an image. Took me back a few years, as I had got used to Windows 7 Update just working, and had got complacent, (luckily I had an image of the machine).

    Well I say Windows Update, I was attempting to update itunes, java, adobe flash, reader - all pretty much at once (as you do - as the whole process is a clunky as hell and takes forever : I hate Windows Update with a passion! - that modal 'reboot' reminder box is the most annoying thing ever, more than Paperclip)

    Windows 7 Update was working away in the background. As this happens files get locked for update at different times. Apple itunes update was also running and attempting to update all Apple Packages. Everything seemed to install as stated. Java Update was also installed, and Adobe updates, before being rebooted.

    But upon reboot several services were missing, Networking being the main one. Windows Restore wasn't an option - (I switch this off and don't use it). But was able to use recent hd image backup - I use dropbox for most data, so didn't cause me too many problems.

    But it did prove to me, that Windows 7 Update is breakable, if you attempt to update other non-microsoft updates at the same time, (and in theory if you use automatic updates, which can kick in at any point you're using a different update program from say Apple etc).

    Second time around - I ran Windows Update on its own - allowed it to complete. By installing everything individually without Windows Update running in the background. I followed exactly the same procedure (but updating each individually, not at the same time)- allowed all the updates to install correctly on the restored version. Finally done. Time Wasted - 2hrs.45 mins.
  • Jamie - If you do decide to try Wine again, I strongly suggest you go to Codeweavers and grab a trial version of Crossover Linux. The product seems to work for about a week per application, and doesn't have a fixed expiration for the trial. If you like it, it costs about $40. In my own experience, there are certain Windows applications that run easier and smoother under Crossover than under stock Wine. Codeweavers is the (or one of the) major contributers of code to the Wine project, so you are actually helping Wine improve if you get it.
    I haven't been able to spare the full cost just yet, but it's definitely something I want to get.
  • @Jamie

    > I do enjoy your windows-update rants, but don't you think it's time to cut Windows from your life?

    Don't discourage him. Some of us like laughing....
    Jack Schofield
  • JW :

    I can only offer the same feedback in that Wine is definitely worth looking at. You are right though, it is still hit and miss with getting some apps to work. Wine 1.4 just came out and has promised to have a bunch of improvements. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to look at it, yet.

    Personally, I've found that 99% of apps run in a Windows VM (I use VirtualBox which has excellent hardware support) just fine. The only snag I've run in to is with 3D applications not working 100%, 3D is still in development for VirtualBox.
  • I'm just experiencing an interesting twist with Windows Update on an XP laptop, formerly used by my daughter and now to be bequeathed to my young grandson rather than binned. It's still a very nice computer, original cost ~£1500.

    The computer hasn't been used for over 12 months so there are 64 updates (in the first pass?). Firstly, Windows update reported 108 Mb to be downloaded but has only downloaded 33Mb. Secondly, the restart message keeps popping asking me to restart even while downloading is still going on and nothing has yet been installed.

    And, of course, the download speed is abysmal. Installation is proceeding much faster than the downloading, now completed.

    Perhaps we are being subtly weaned off Windows XP!


    Goodness only knows what would have happened if I had not 'attended' the update and the computer had shut itself down part way through the update - disaster, I expect.
    The Former Moley
  • About a year and a half ago, the update that turned IE7 into IE8 came down as an update. The problem is that it would download like all the other updates and patches and then when installed it opened a window BEHIND the standard Windows detail window. This only occurred when you were keeping an eye on it and watching the "details" window. The problem was that the window would open and ask for approval! If you weren't paying extremely vigilant attention, you'd totally miss the window behind and the install of ALL the patches PLUS the 7 or 8 IE8 brought down would come to a halt.

    If you didn't open the stupid detail window, everything would just crawl on past, no user input required. Of course you'd get all the damn defaults like Bing as your search engine, etc etc.
  • For all of you complaining about exchange...well, maybe next time you should not mess with systems you don't understand. There is a reason why people specialize in Exchange admin.
    For your workstation...go get a mac or some flavor of *nix and stop complaining. Oh right, you might want to get some work done.
  • Roger Dodger :

    You hit it right on the head, "There is a reason why people specialize in Exchange admin.", which means companies must have a full time and permanent staff to run Exchange. Look around and you will see job postings for "Exchange admins". I understand Exchange just fine and when I compare it to other mail transport & storage systems, it requires WAY more resources and support. I take it from your answer that you've never installed a flavor of *nix yourself and actually used it for a period of time.