The AnswersThatWork Blog

1 August 2016



Windows 7 Blues — Microsoft is back to the bad old days

Once upon a time Windows Updates were so dangerous, particularly for Windows Server operating systems, that the standard practice was to turn OFF Automatic Windows Updates.  There were true horror stories in the early days of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, with entire forums dedicated to solving Windows Updates disaster stories.

It is from those days that the most the critical piece of knowledge required of any Network Administrator is to know that Automatic Windows Updates should be turned OFF on any Windows Server (Win2003/2008/2012).  Any network administrator who fails to abide by this without exception should be sacked, purely and simply, as that network administrator is putting your business in danger (see later).

Microsoft got such bad press in those days that Bill Gates took charge personally of driving through exacting new quality standards for Windows Updates, and it worked, so much so that, eventually, technical helpers and supremos on forums started dropping their standard advice to turn off Automatic Windows Updates for XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8/8.1.

Alas, Bill Gates moved on and stopped being actively involved in the day-to-day running of the company he and Paul Allen built to be the most successful company of all time.

And slowly but surely the quality of the products released by Microsoft started to suffer, culminating in the release of.....Windows 10 !

Consider this :

  1. 1 year after its release, on many Windows 10 PCs you can still, after all the Windows Updates for Windows 10, find yourself waiting for up to 2 minutes for a locked screen saver to sort itself out so that you can put in your password to unlock your networked Windows 10 PC.

  2. In early July 2016, a few weeks ago, Microsoft released an update for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 that was so bad, that on reboot a networked PC would no longer map network drives through group policies. Given the arrogance of Microsoft in making Windows Updates compulsory for Windows 10 many businesses found themselves one morning with their Windows 10 PCs totally unable to access their network server. (Note :  Thankfully, with The Ultimate Troubleshooter you can disable the Windows Update service, WUAUSERV, which then disables Automatic Windows Updates — and on a business network, the network administrator can disable automatic updates through a group policy).

  3. Windows 10, supposedly the best Windows ever, boots more slowly than Windows 8.1.

  4. Windows 10, supposedly the best Windows ever, is measurably slower than Windows 8.1 at copying files to and from a network drive or a USB device like a USB hard drive.  And both are slower at copying than the grand old lady :  Windows 7 !

And this non-exhaustive list of Windows 10 major bugs brings us nicely around to the main thread of this blog : Windows 7 Updates.

Anyone who does not have "Automatic Windows Updates" turned ON, will have noticed that since February 2016 a manual Windows Updates can take anything from 1.5 hours to a staggering 24 hours to build and display the list of available updates for your PC.  From February 2016 to the end of July 2016 — that is 6 months !  6 months during which Microsoft have failed, month after month, to fix the problem.  It is so bad that many forums are now spreading opinions that this is part of a deliberate attempt by Microsoft to move Windows 7 users to Windows 10, particularly after Microsoft's multiple clumsy attempts at forcing users to migrate to Windows 10 starting from almost-automatic upgrades to Windows 10 to that crass popup where attempts by users at declining the Windows 10 update would result in the user installing it anyway !

And it is easy to see why this opinion is gathering momentum.  In June 2016, one year after the introduction of Windows 10, after one year of FREE upgrades to Windows 10 for all Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users, Windows 10 has still not reached 20% of users worldwide.  In fact, using the figures published by NetMarketShare as of the end of June 2016, 55.47% of Windows PC users worldwide still use Windows 7 :

  • Windows 7 49.05% (of all Desktop operating systems, 55% of Windows users)

  • Windows 10 19.14%

  • Windows XP 9.78%

  • Windows 8.1 8.01%

  • Mac OS X 10/11 – 4.93%

  • Windows 8 2.45%

  • Linux – 2.02%

  • Other – 4.63%

Personally, I keep an open mind, for the moment, as to why manual Windows updates for Windows 7 users has been such a nightmare for the last 6 months, as my current thinking is that, despite what it looks like, it is more simply another illustration of the increasing total lack of quality control at Microsoft that is corrupting the delivery of Windows Updates, resulting in Windows 10 PCs that can no longer connect to a network Windows server, and Windows 7 PCs that cannot connect to Microsoft's Windows Updates servers — but I am keeping an open mind !

So, if you are one of those Windows 7 users desperate for a solution to your interminable never-completing manual Windows Updates, here is a solution that works as of 1-August-2016 (caveat : it may not work in September !!) :

  1. Install the  February 2016  Windows Update Agent for Windows 7

  2. Install the  April 2016  Windows Update agent for Windows 7 (32-bit) (64-bit)

  3. Install the  July 2016  Update Rollup for Windows 7

  4. Open  Internet Explorer  and empty its cache
    ("Tools \ Delete Browsing History" menu option).

  5. Stop the  Windows Updates (WUAUSERV)  service on the
    Services  tab of  The Ultimate Troubleshooter.  If you do not
    have TUT, then do it via  "Control Panel \ Administrative Tools \ Services".

  6. Drill down to this folder :  C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution
    and delete everything in it.

  7. Restart the  Windows Updates (WUAUSERV)  service that you
    stopped in (5) above.

  8. Run  Windows Updates.  From our experience Windows Updates
    should now take no more than 10 to 45 minutes to bring you the
    list of available updates.

  9. On your first run install only  .NET updates, Silverlight, Microsoft Office updates,
    IE10/IE11 updates.

  10. On your second run install only and only Windows Updates.

  11. On your last run install Security Updates and any additional Windows Updates.


Good Luck !!!!!!!




—— (TUT) SpaceMan




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