back to article Microsoft takes five months to replace broken patch

Microsoft has issued a replacement for a buggy release of Windows Server Operating System MP, code that underpins efforts to proactively monitor Windows Server. The last version - 6.0.7303.0 – should have been innocuous. But users quickly noticed lots of problems, especially regarding recognition of disk clusters, leading …

  1. gobaskof

    5 months

    5 months to fix a critical update to a core service? That is fast for Microsoft...

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    This is why Windows is no longer viable.

    This was a supposedly mature, well established, fairly stable (presumably), & working product. MS broke it with an update. Under the pre-Windows-10 update methods, you had a chance of recovering the system to a pre-"fixed" state to undo the damage. The new Windows 10 Software As A Service (SAAS) method means you have no such option. You can't recover without doing a full Nuke&Pave back to your last full back up, since a mere user file back up won't recover the broken OS underneath it.

    If the program you *require* to function because of whatever reason becomes crippled by a MS "fix", you have to wait for MS to acknowledge their cock up, accept that it's their fault, agree to write a fix for it, put the resources needed towards writing it, test it, release it, & eventually push it out to you... in this case nearly half a year later.

    If your small business gets their (for example) payroll system crippled because W10's SAAS bricks it, can that business *really* afford to be without the ability to pay any bills for that time while MS pulls it's head out of it's arse? I doubt it. They'll probably go under, have to fire all their employees, & will have *zero* recourse since MS has had their lawyers CYA in the AUP/EULA/TOS you agreed to when you installed the OS or bought the machine with W10 on it. MS 1, You 0.

    This applies to private citizens as well. What if the W10 SAAS cripples some part of the OS that you *have* to have running in order to use the computer? Say a Screen Reader Environment (SRE), the screen magnifier, or... I dunno... the video? If W10 SAAS kills it then you have no way to recover, you're at the mercy of MS to fix their fuster cluck, & you're without the use of your computer until they do.

    Gamers, how would you feel about not being able to game on your Win10 machine because Win10 now can't find your video subsystem? Or the audio? Or thinks your super wide ultra hi def monitor can only manage monochrome text?

    Photographers, what if Win10 suddenly decides that all the image files you want to edit are now classified as "Kill With Extreme Prejudice" & deleted as soon as they're detected? Or if the highest resolution it'll allow is something you can do better than with an Etch-A-Sketch & one palsied hand?

    Audio mixers, do you think you could handle having a perma-muted system for ~6 months while MS slowly tries to fix the fact that the W10 SAAS has disabled your audio subsystem? Or perhaps introduced such a crippling set of hiss & pops that it renders everything into garbage?

    How about you CAD/CAM enthusiasts. Could you manage to manually enter all your CNC instructions into your 3D printer now that Win10's SAAS has decided that your printer no longer exists? Or garbles the data it DOES upload into such crap that it makes "GIGO" look good in comparison?

    How about you sewing/knitting folks. How would you feel if a W10 SAAS update deleted all those stored patterns & sample diagrams you had stored? Could you do them all from memory for the nearly 6 months it would take for MS to fix it?

    What about that country doctor General Practitioner. Could they really survive doing all their HIPA reporting, medical files manipulation, charts, records, & consultations with other specialists in far away places... entirely manually for half a year while MS fixes the W10 SAAS error that crippled their patient records computer?

    There are so many ways for the new Windows 10 SAAS update routine to cripple your computer, ruin your SMB, or otherwise bring your world to a crashing stop, Windows 10 is not a viable OS.

    You can't trust your life/livelihood to an OS that can render your computer into a worthless paper weight via an update you can't refuse nor delay. Oh sure IF you're rich enough to be running an Education or Enterprise edition, but we're talking about all the little fish in this sea that won't be able to avoid the gaping maw of the hungry monstrosity that is MS. =-\

    As a blind user reliant on a SRE, there's no way I could go half a year without a computer to get to various government services. I'd be up a certain creek without a paddle, life vest, boat, or even the ability to tell which way was up.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

      @Shadow Systems "payroll system crippled" - In the US, Slurp might be liable for some damages if their OS "patch" broke the payroll system. US businesses can be sued for both back pay and liquidated damages for any delinquent pay to all affected employees.

      I agree with you that it is intolerable for the OS to make decisions that should be only made by the user. The user installed the applications for a reason and the user should be the one who decides when any are removed. The same with any other files.

      I know a blind user who is devoted Ubuntu user. Also, Vinux (vinuxproject.org) has customized Ubuntu for the blind and partially sighted users.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @a_yank_lurker, RE: Corporate liability.

        I've read the T&C's of the MS W10 agreement. It expressly limits their liability to binding arbitration, & reimbursement of the price paid for the software. If you bought a retail copy that's only $200 for the Pro version or $120 for the Home. If you upgraded for free then it means they owe you *nothing*. And since you agreed to the binding arbitration by installing/using W10, you'll have to take them to court to argue that you're allowed to take them to court. What a <sarcasm>LOVELY</sarcasm> catch 22.

        About the only way the arbitration might get struck down is for something like a HIPA violation. The laws surrounding what may & may not be done with patient medical records means that W10's telemetry violate those laws. MS can't get around them with the T&C's, Federal Law trumps their CYA attempt. So if a doctor has their (say) W7Pro64 system upgraded to W10 & it's proved that W10 violated HIPA, then the doc can just point the finger at MS when the Feds come screaming for someone's head. A hundred thousand patient records get uploaded to an MS server without the Doc knowing/authorizing it? MS will be up shit creek.

        Unfortunately that kind of situation may take a year or more before it happens, if it ever makes the news at all. You can be sure MS will pay the Feds a large wad of cash to keep it quiet, the better not to panic the sheep. =-\

        I know about Vinux. I once decided to support them by purchasing a NetBook from them. They set it up, made it work, then shipped it to me. The moment I opened it up & turned it on the damn thing stopped working. No amount of phone support, no amount of tweaking, nothing got it working again. I was so disgusted & disheartened with them that I sold the machine to a friend for the cost of shipping & a six pack of soda. Vinux may be an option for some, just not for me.

        I've also tried Adriane Knoppix & Sonar Linux. AK kept insisting my audio subsystem would disappear between boots, requiring a series of reboots until it reappeared. SL was a little better in that it accepted the audio system, it just could never remember <MUTE> ... </mute> THE VOLUME CONTROL had been adjusted. *Wincing & banging palms on ears to stop the ringing* They may have gotten better since I last tried to use them, but I'm not exactly holding my breath.

        My next computer is due to arrive from System 76 soon. They've installed Ubuntu & Orca, configured Orca to auto launch on boot, & to not need any manual steps that will require a Sighted Linux Tech to do once it gets to me. I've purchased a three year support contract with them, so if it goes ka blooey then I can pack it up, ship it back, & they get to fix it & send it back *at their expense*. I hope Orca will do the job, I'll keep my fingers crossed, because I'll no longer accept Windows on my machines.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

        good luck with that class action in the USA. The EULA that you agreed to (you did read it all didn't you) specifically prohibits you from filing suit against MS for any losses caused by their software.

        Go on, read the US EULA and then speak to a lawyer.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

          In the UK (it is my understanding that) there is an implicit unwritten clause in contracts which talks about "reasonableness". If that test fails then the T's&C's are meaningless. There is usually a counter-clause saying that if a clause is deemed unenforceable then the rest of the contract should be construed without the offending clause. So what that (presumably) means is that if Microsoft's cap on compensation is struck off as unreasonable, then that part of the contact is not valid.

          One thing about W10 that above commentators are forgetting is that a lot less W10 users than you would imagine actually agreed to the W10 EULA. This is because the upgrade [sic] was installed automatically, without their permission, and there was no obligation to press an "I Agree" button to prevent the whole shebang being reverted to whatever they had before. I would like to know how MS would be able to prove, in a court of law, that a user actually affirmed such an agreement. It will be buried deep within the event log... maybe.

          1. Keith Langmead

            Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

            "One thing about W10 that above commentators are forgetting is that a lot less W10 users than you would imagine actually agreed to the W10 EULA. "

            Yeah I was thinking the same thing regarding Windows 10. Whether it was held up in court is another matter, but I don't see how you can hold someone to updated terms when you forcibly updated the software. The fact that MS decided to install the software, removing the choice from the users, should (but probably doesn't in court unfortunately) make them accountable for any issues arising from that forced upgrade.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

              The fact that MS decided to install the software, removing the choice from the users, should (but probably doesn't in court unfortunately) make them accountable for any issues arising from that forced upgrade.

              If the reports of "spontaneous" updates are accurate (and given the volume of them and other tactics deployed by Microsoft since I have less doubt about that than I used to have), there is no only the issue that users have not agreed to a EULA (provided the right odowngrade your system wasn't in the previous EULA, that is), but we would be dealing with what is commonly known as hacking: accessing and modifying (and crippling) a user's system without their explicit permission.

              In the UK you'd be looking at a violation of the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The fun bit is that this is criminal law, but that's also the problem as it requires UK plods to get off their rear end and actually do some work to get a case into gear. The latter is about as hard as preventing Windows 10 from violating your privacy, but your chances improve if there are more this happens to as it then becomes political. The most evil trick you can pull in that respect is to have such a breach be questioned in the House of Commons as an enquiry just how safe government computers are if they ever are infected by it :). It's a shame I no longer use Windows because I would have had loads of entertainment with that one..

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

                "The most evil trick you can pull in that respect is to have such a breach be questioned in the House of Commons"

                This is probably harder than preventing a Windows 10 infection.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

                  This is probably harder than preventing a Windows 10 infection.

                  Ah, but that is (a) a matter of who you know and (b) knowing how to play that particular game. Hint: always understand that the key driver for any politician is self interest.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

            In the UK (it is my understanding that) there is an implicit unwritten clause in contracts which talks about "reasonableness". If that test fails then the T's&C's are meaningless.

            I think you're talking about the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations of 1999 which indeed happily nuke some of the creative ways in which companies attempt to avoid their responsibility by embedding terms at the end of the contract in 6 point light grey fonts with a white background. Caveat, though: they only nuke the unreasonable parts, not the whole contract.

            Their exact definition of "unfair" is (I quote): A standard term is unfair if it creates a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer, contrary to the requirement of good faith.

            I think you can call it good faith to require that a supplier delivers something that actually works - IMHO a feature lacking from most Microsoft products since MS DOS 3.20 (note: it doesn't have to be USEFUL, though :) ).

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

              "Consumer Contracts Regulations "

              By definition that applies only to consumers, not business or professional users. And, given that the purchaser of a computer with Windows pre-installed doesn't have a direct contract with Microsoft, their come-back would be against the store who sold it.

    2. jtaylor

      Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

      Businesses operate with imperfect tools in imperfect situations every day. The point is to find "good enough" and make money at it.

      I think you raise some good points, but your dire predictions are not yet supported by either reality or common sense. If you propose viable and attractive alternatives to Windows, your opinions would have greater value.

      Meanwhile, I can't recommend that businesses who rely on Quickbooks or Exchange/Outlook stop using Windows. I can't recommend that photographers change to Linux and leave Lightroom and Photoshop and all those plugins.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @jtaylor, RE: Windows viability.

        I'm sorry I didn't make this point clear. Pre-W10 versions of Windows are still acceptable. The customer controlls the software that gets installed (Oh look! My SMB just got Candy Crush installed for free. That's JUST what the place needs!), controls wich updates get applied if any (Oh look, yet another attempt to sneak the GWX widget down our throats & this time it's disguised as a Security update!), can roll back those updates if they break something (from this story), can roll back to a previous point where the OS still worked so they can get stuff done, can expect functionality that was there yesterday to still be there tomorrow (what's that, your copy of Notepad just stopped letting you type the number 9? Too bad, the last W10 forced update removed that bit as a bug & you won't get it back any time soon), & doesn't send all your data back to an MS server (telemetry) for whatever purpose they care to use it for.

        If you're running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 then you still retain control over your own computer. Your data stays your own. But the moment you start to use Windows 10 all that goes out the window (no pun intended).

        You can continue to use the software you've paid for & installed on the older versions of Windows. You paid for them, they're yours, & MS can't stop you. But if MS gets a bug up it's butt about it with W10, they have already shown, can, & will remove that bit of software from their "Approved" list & it will no longer run. Maybe that copy of Adobe CS now can't find any local file, or PS can't save any local file, or MS decides to hold all your cloud-stored files hostage for a rate increase. YOU don't have any say in it, THEY control the software allowed to run on their SAAS OS.

        TL;DR: Windows 7 & 8.x is still an option. Windows 10 is not. You can't trust MS not to cripple your ability to use the machine & we all know how fair & balanced "Binding Arbitration" is for the little folk. =-(

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

        "Meanwhile, I can't recommend"- installing windows 10 SAAS-lite

        That was what was said, not dump Windows. Although that is probably best, where and if you can- while you can.

      3. Vince

        Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

        "I think you raise some good points, but your dire predictions are not yet supported by either reality or common sense. If you propose viable and attractive alternatives to Windows, your opinions would have greater value."

        Actually the reality is that Windows 10 is breaking things on a regular basis. Source: Our Helpdesk, call volumes.

        Windows prior to 10 (exc Enterprise) have control to prevent these issues where businesses can balance risk vs updates. No more.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

      " you have to wait for MS to acknowledge their cock up, accept that it's their fault, agree to write a fix for it, put the resources needed towards writing it, test it, release it, & eventually push it out to you"

      To be fair it appears that with the original patch MS must have accelerated this procedure. Omit "test it".

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

      "you have to wait for MS to acknowledge their cock up, accept that it's their fault, agree to write a fix for it, put the resources needed towards writing it, test it, release it, & eventually push it out to you... in this case nearly half a year later." - when has this ever not been the case? Do you think Patch Tuesday was Microsoft's generosity? It is fixes for problems, mistakes, errors, and the opportunity to ran W10 down everybody's throats.

      "If your small business gets their (for example) payroll system crippled because W10's SAAS bricks it, can that business *really* afford to be without the ability to pay any bills for that time while MS pulls it's head out of it's arse? I doubt it." - I don't know about you, but if I was running a small business with a complicated payroll system, I would dedicate one specific machine to that task. The machine would have no unnecessary Internet access, would run no unnecessary software, and would not be updated. Plus, the data files would be backed up regularly and tested restoring the data on another machine. Anything else is just failing to take core parts of the business seriously. If I was in charge of IT in an SME, I'd be very inclined to set up a sacrificial lamb, a machine to receive updates. Updates that would not be applied to the other machines until the lamb has been tested. Why? Because what sort of IT person would permit unfettered access to unchecked "updates" from companies in another country? Things that go into a machine that a business relies upon should be justified.

      !This applies to private citizens as well. What if the W10 SAAS cripples some part of the OS that you *have* to have running in order to use the computer?" - doesn't need to be SaaS. I'm still running XP (don't waste your breath arguing...) on an old box. It sits behind a NAT and I go online using Firefox and half a dozen plugins preventing pretty much everything from running. Etc etc. Anyway, the other day I had chkdsk perform a periodic check of the machine. It did its magic and somehow trashed the system to the point where it would boot, but no applications would run. Something to do with RPC? I don't know. I did a restore reinstall which luckily fixed the problem, but really Windows is pretty sensitive to having its insides tickled. There needs to be an "oh crap, revert!" option.

      "you're without the use of your computer until they do." - one of the reasons I have not moved beyond XP is my old TV capture dongle (that I use to watch TV) only has an XP driver. Should the machine pack up, I think I'd be very inclined to set up Ubuntu or Mint in a dual-boot when putting XP back. Why? Because later versions of Windows have no compelling reason for me to stay. I'm looking now at what my computer does for me. I use the Pi for programming and fun, but the PC is for internet, watching DVDs, and so on. Linux can do that.

      "Photographers, what if Win10 suddenly decides that all the image files you want to edit are now classified as "Kill With Extreme Prejudice" & deleted as soon as they're detected?" - I'd wonder if that would more likely be a balls-up with the anti-virus software. But, then, ever hear of this thing called backups? If something is important to you, dump it on to a USB harddisc. Dump it onto a DVD-ROM. Whatever. Don't keep just one source for your important information. A nearby lighting strike could toast the computer and evaporate your data faster than you can comprehend what just happened.

      "Or if the highest resolution it'll allow is something you can do better than with an Etch-A-Sketch & one palsied hand?" - chances are your data is still there. Whether or not it will show it to you correctly is a different matter. Example? I have a little e-reader. It actually does make photos look like a distorted Etch-A-Sketch. But that's the display and the way the data was processed. The full colour 14mpix photo is still a full colour 14mpix photo even if I don't see it as that.

      "Audio mixers, do you think you could handle having a perma-muted system for ~6 months" [...] etc etc

      Yes, errant updates can kill your computer. XP's updater once upon a time trashed the system. I recall one of the AV products (Symantic?) released an update that considered a core part of Windows to be a virus. Pretty much anything that touches core parts of the OS could go wrong, with disastrous consequences.

      However, that said, there are a dozen scenarios that are even worse which have no relation to bad updates - storm, fire, flood, disgruntled ex-employees, children... If there is data that is important to you (or your business), then you will take care to make backups that you can get to. I put "will" in bold letters, because the bladder-loosening sinking feeling that comes from realising that all of the photos of your daughter's christening have vanished and will never come back[*], that's the sort of thing that rams home the point of backups and you'll suddenly find yourself taking a lot more care over important data. If you don't, you have nobody to blame but yourself. Same, then, if you are happy to put the behaviour and activity of your OS in the hands of somebody else. At least my XP install has a disc here. It sits on my harddisc. Nobody messes with it. I can wipe it all off and put it back on, or maybe run it in a virtual machine (not tried, I don't think my computer is up to that). Ditto Linux. I have an Ubuntu DVD-ROM. It installs itself (actually pretty rapidly) from the disc. It can update. You can choose not to. Though, for some reason, I'd be inclined to trust that more than Microsoft. Maybe because I think a thousand angry Internet users are more likely to convince the Ubuntu guys to, you know, test stuff before it gets released...

      * - Thankfully that hasn't happened to me. I lost a month of work on a project due to a disc crash back in the mid '90s. In a way it was good as I sort of knew what was required to recreate the work, but it was still a bloody hassle and involved pulling a couple of all-nighters to get caught up, back when I was young enough that such a thing wouldn't whack me out. And, yes, it was the one-shock method to learning the value of backups.

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