Windows Update - Sick on Toast. Without the Toast.

Sigh. How many times to do I have to write the same rant about Microsoft Windows Idiotic Update process?
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

Sigh. How many times to do I have to write the same rant about Microsoft Windows Idiotic Update process? Well, basically the answer is every time Windows Update finds some new and different way to prove that it is a Study in Stupidity. I know, I know, there are Microsoft Apologists just waiting to jump up and say "I've been using Windows for 147 years, and I have never had any of these problems with Windows Update!". Balderdash. The following is only the latest in a long saga of stupidity.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I recently purchased a new Samsung NP-P580 laptop. I took the system, brand new, out of a sealed box. Slogged through the initial Windows setup, and then let it start updating Windows 7 (un)Professional 64-bit. The first thing I noticed was that it did not have SP1 installed, so I knew this would be a lengthy process. Little did I know how lengthy. It started out looking perhaps slightly promising - 78 "Important Updates" to install. At least it didn't want to install them 5 or 6 at a time. But once that large batch was done, and of course the system was rebooted, the dreaded cycle started. "5 updates to install - reboot - 6 updates to install - reboot - 4 updates to install - 7 updates to install - 3 updates to install - reboot - 2 updates to install - 6 updates to install - reboot - " Getting sick of it yet? I certainly was, but it just kept going, on and on and on and on... until finally, after four hours or so, it quit finding more updates to install. Relief. But, hey, wait a minute, it still hasn't installed SP1, and come to think of it it hasn't offered to install Internet Explorer 9, either!

Well, I figured this was just more Microsoft stupidity, and it would eventually settle down and realize that there was more to do. So I left it for a day, and checked for updates again. Nothing. I left it for another day, checked again, still nothing, so I left it idle running Windows for a while, figuring perhaps it needed time to think about it. Nothing. No errors, no messages, no information about WHY it didn't want to install SP1. Just no updates to be installed. Ok, after three days of that I did a bit of searching and found that there might be a particular version of the Intel HD video driver that prevents Win7 SP1 from installing. I checked the Device Manager, and sure enough there was a rather old HD graphic driver installed.

I went to Samsung support, but there was no newer driver listed there. I ran the Samsung "Smart Update" utility, and it said that everything was hunky-dory. So I finally went to the Intel driver download site, and got the latest version of the driver. Unfortunately it would not install, complaining about the driver not being "signed for your system", and suggesting that I get the driver directly from the system supplier. Great advice - well, at least it is better than the Microsoft Update garbage, which didn't bother to tell me why it was unhappy - but I had already tried that and couldn't find anything. A lot more digging, and I finally found a Samsung site in the U.S. that had a newer version of the Intel HD Video driver. I installed that, finally some success. Of course, that version of the driver is dated sometime in mid-2010, and the latest version from intel is dated this month, but never mind, something is better than nothing and maybe, hopefully this Windows Update will condescend to install SP1 with this one.

So, back to Windows Update, search for updates, and... WOW! It wants to install SP1! Gee, I feel so honored! I started the download, it thrashed around on the disk drive for 15 minutes or so without giving any status, then suddenly jumped to 9% complete. A lot more thrashing while the status stayed at 9%, then it suddenly jumped to 14%. Then a very long time just thrashing the disk, at least 15 minutes, and it jumped to 24%. Another long period of thrashing, and it jumped to 94%. I see that Microsoft is every bit as good at counting as they are at making computer operating systems... Finally, a good hour after starting the update process, it reports that the download is complete and it is starting to install.

Heaven only knows how long the installation will take. It is still running as I write this. I expect it to be measure in hours; I am just hoping that it does not thrash around for a few hours and then finally inform me that the installation failed, with some bizarre hex code number, and no explanation of what that means. But honestly, I won't be surprised if that is the result.

You're doing a great job, Microsoft. You must be so proud of yourselves. You make me sick.

jw 23/9/2011

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