First of all:
Hi to everyone; been busy, etc. [Alleged to have life beyond SP!]
Hearing all of this noise about Windows Update from people who think it's the be-all/end-all just brings up the main point with regard to just about everything this group stands for, which is the total lack of actual credibility MS really has with regard to fixing *anything*.
Eck: I haven't been an active member on WindowsBBS since something like 2004; they were wussies then and nothing has changed. The sad part is that people go there believing they actually know anything!
We may make noises at each other on msfn, consider it just a lot of "family" squabbles, etc., but all of us are, in theory, on the "same side" with regard to the fundamentals: Just trying to get Windows to work knowing that there are fixes, in various states of officialdom or lack thereof, and we want to use them to fix problems we know about or have heard about, etc.
Here are a few reality points [excuse the bandwidth if you know about any of these already, but I think a summary is in order]:
1) No version of Windows has ever been released without quickly needing fixes. This of course years ago gave rise to the perfectly sensible "Don't use Version 1.0 of anything" phrase, and it just about always applies.
2) It has never been easy to get fixes from MS, and they are always ready to make it even harder. I laud various individuals for having "intestinal fortitude" to get past some of this. Without them, we would be quite frustrated. However, on this forum, we have become empowered to the point that we can anticipate getting some measure of control of the situation.
3) Windows Update can be a cruel joke. Far too many people believe it to be both complete and accurate. Most of the time neither apply. Some problems over the years:
a ) Lost updates that were at one point on WU, but now aren't nor replaced with "better" ones. Fortunately for all of us, we have recourse, primarily from top members right here!
b ) Never-had updates simply because MS policy about what is expected to be in WU itself changes. Is it a place for bugs to be fixed? Or security updates? Both? Neither? It seems that for certain specific sore points all four have applied at some time or other.
c ) Total lack of timeliness: I have maintained an unofficial list of WinXP "should-be"s in terms of stuff I don't understand why these aren't in WU. Some were removed because they became allegedly replaced by other updates, that I suspect in some cases was a misplaced trust with regards to whether the replacement actually accomplished anything positive. Still others just seem to have no reason not to be there and months go by. And in a few cases, apparently after a baffling amount of months, amazingly they eventually get to WU! [But once there do they stay there?] Some of these are fairly recent MS security bulletin subjects. Yet, they don't surface quickly [or ever?].
I believe there were some 9x updates that were promised and either never were delivered, or were delivered after one would long ago given up hope, yet verbiage would have you believe it was "real soon now" that they would get there.
d) Improper distribution of updates: How many updates obviously pertain to more systems than are nominally offered for? What about the ones where you have to do sneaky things with the innards to get them to install where they are needed, unless you just so happen to be running ME? Some of these updates include arrogant verbiage from self-appointed MS policy makers proclaiming the obsolescence of various systems and thus the justification for non-support, etc. Yet, these statements themselves are fatuous and totally wrong! [Note: In some cases, the specifics are fantasy notions that proclaim obsolescence well before any official drop-dead dates, and I am not talking about when such dates eventually were modified. Yes, official support was extended to June 30, 2006. But this was back before there even was a need to extend it, before the old expire dates, etc. These people were just making up their personal notion of obsolescence, etc. Additionally, since the extension to this June, what about the total lack of change of policy on these updates? Clearly they deserve to be rewritten to include proper support, etc., yet how many just didn't get any changes?]
Again, many thanks to all in this forum for getting around much of this, but to continue to allow WU to have anyone's respect is pure fantasy.
And if anyone thinks this is just some overall MS policy to get rid of all things prior to XP, here's a few tidbits to give pause:
1) Indiscriminately, before and during the XP era, MS personnel made much of the KB useless by making the notion of date of article totally worthless. Articles were updated merely to point out that they were changing their name from Qxxxxxx to xxxxxx where xxxxxx is the KB article number. Non-information was used to change the effective date of an article because all that was added was a notice of when an article was reviewed, adding nothing literally except the update of the date/time of the review itself.
2) KB articles mysteriously disappear, including XP-related ones, never to be heard of again. Some KB articles contain dead links to others because the demise of the linked page is news to the maintainers of the referring page!
3) KB articles have contradictory contents. Some examples are the infamous "stonewalling" language many of us are familiar with, where they essentially "dare" you to get an update that does clearly exist as documented there, etc. Yet, in some cases, after all that spiel, a download link is actually provided!
I once saw a KB article for a recently-released security bulletin update that used the stonewalling language! Fortunately, the actual security bulletin itself added a download link to trump the KB article. But some bulletins use language that depends on the KB article, and in some cases the KB article never has the download link, or in some cases, the KB article itself is never posted! [Or perhaps it was removed?]
For those of you familiar with t h e h o t f i x . n e t, it appears there are nearly 300 updates post SP2 for XP, but something like only 60 of them can be counted as ever having been in WU at some point, and usually more like 40 at any point in time. It's true that some of the "extra" 20 come from the claim of having been replaced, but it doesn't seem to hold for all of them. And remember, some took at least 9 months to eventually even be added to WU, so in part it depends on just when you went to WU. It makes it seem like for XP, WU is essentially a "popularity contest" of the most requested recent XP updates, etc.
But in this larger list, we find literally hundreds of things MS has at least made a half-hearted effort to fix, many in the "stone-walled" form in terms of the corresponding KB article. [Users of that site can get them there anyway, etc.] Far too many of them are fixes to things admitted by MS as being broken by the application of SP2.
The reader is advised not to install these fixes unless absolutely necessary, because they haven't been "regression tested" or some other Micro-speak phrase. Yet, the stuff that went through WU has had to be either re-released or replaced at times. Notice how many updates are of the "v2" variety. At certain times, it seemed that WU only provided an update that needed to be replaced less than a week later because the fix, presumably rushed into WU, was actually incorrect and replaced, etc.
The point is that WU is not a "seal of approval" on many of these updates, yet there are individuals that basically pronounce all things not in WU as unusable and all things actually in WU as perfect and flaw-free; obviously reality dictates that both of these notions are wrong.
For the longest time, some XP updates are in internal conflict, i.e., certain updating methods exist that cannot be applied to something like a sore-point duo or trio. i.e., you have to either use WU or manually install after-the-fact, but not according to the normal rules of server-based installs, etc. Yet, in spite of the known problems, these updates just don't get changed. And of course, WU just continues to make them available. Thus, the widespread use of WU means that MS never hears sufficiently about the actual problems with the update interaction, etc.
If XP is a priority, I hate to think of how long a non-priority takes to get implemented. How many months/years does it take for MS to actually bring out a SP? How many months/years more than they claim? And just what about it actually breaks the alternative of the previous SP augmented by available hotfixes regardless of whether "WU-approved" or not?
As of this writing, MS envisions Vista to be out, possibly sometime later this year, or next year, or who knows when? But more importantly, they now, having changed their tune several times, admit they intend to bring out an SP3 for XP, but only *AFTER* they release Vista. Dates implied by this mean that not only are there those hundreds of not-quite-available fixes for post-SP2 XP, but probably there will be many more in the next year or so that would also have to be added on so an SP3 could even be half-way relevant. [Maybe they'll change it to release after Vista SP1!]
All of this means that some people will always remain clueless; this doesn't mean we have to. On the contrary, because of all of the long and hard work by all involved here, we don't have to operate in "wussie" mode like some others, etc.
Please keep up all the good work, as always!