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Windows Operating Systems Software Security

Microsoft Ramps Up "Fix it" Support Tool 144

Posted by kdawson
from the pretty-please dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft has ramped up its new Windows support assistant 'Fix it for me' nearly three months after it quietly released the automatic repair and configuration tool. The upgrade adds a 'Fix it' button to some of the support documents that Microsoft posts to its Knowledge Base. The blog introducing the changes lists some of the Knowledge Base documents that boast the 'Fix it' button, including one that prevents users from connecting a USB storage device — useful in protecting against one of the infection vectors of the 'Downadup' worm. Have ideas for the tool? In a forum on the 'WinVistaClub' Web site, someone who said he was part of the 'Fix it' team at Microsoft encouraged users to send feedback on the feature to the group at fixit4me@microsoft.com."
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Microsoft Ramps Up "Fix it" Support Tool

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  • What happens.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:29PM (#26717223)

    What happens when the "fix it tool" itself breaks?

    • Re:What happens.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by imcclell (138690) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:35PM (#26717337)

      I doubt most people would notice. When people click on something like that and nothing happens, they just assume it can't be fixed, not that the tool itself is broken.

      Think of how many times they've run across a fix button that does nothing in antivirus and antispyware software. People just shrug their shoulders and go on.

      Mind you, not a good attitude to have but people have it anyways.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumRiff (120817)

        And sadly, when People click on something like that, and what's supposed to happen happens, users get used to running applications from websites. This is a very bad thing indeed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Then you just click the "fix it fix it" link.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by garlicbready (846542)
      (blue screen)
      The Fix it Fix it Fix it Fix it tool has failed,
      do you wish to Fix it or Fail?
      • Meta-fix It (Score:1, Informative)

        by weighn (578357)
        There's a meta fix for any broken Fit It tools available here [ubuntu.com].
        • When I install Ubuntu and try to boot into it, I get a blinking cursor and nothing else.

          Is there a Fix It tool for that, or do I have to learn how to compile the kernel or something?

      • by An ominous Cow art (320322) * on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:14PM (#26717935) Journal

        That reminds me of a message we'd occasionally get in the early 90s working with either FoxPro or FoxBase:

        "Error 201 while attempting to report Error 201"

        (I don't know whether 201 was the actual number anymore)

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Here you go [microsoft.com]. Apparently it could be either error 14 or error 182, and it was in Visual FoxPro 7.0.

          • It may still have occurred by the time of VFP 7.0, but I remember it from the DOS days - I'm unsure whether it before or after Microsoft 'merged' with Fox.

            I think the one I recall *was* error 14, though.

    • by Anonymous Cowbell (1456535) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:48PM (#26717527)

      That presupposes that the Fix It tool will work in the first place

      Ever tried to use the Repair option in MS Office? I've used it on dozens of installs, and it has never once repaired a GD thing

      • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:58PM (#26717691)

        Why pick on office.

        I've never once had an install repair utility fix ANY program EVER.

        • Then the problem was most likely unrelated to the integrity of the installation, since that's all Repair fixes.
        • Not my experience (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bearhouse (1034238)

          Way back in the day, when Pournelle was still posting on BIX and writing in Byte, he recommended Norton Windoctor. For a while, (before, like all Norton products, it was ruined by bloat), it automagically fixed Win95/98 and even some XP installations quite well.

          Worth trying if you're trying to fix one of those old installations and don't really want to re-install.

          • Re:Not my experience (Score:5, Informative)

            by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @08:56PM (#26720103) Journal

            Actually, windows 98 had some half way decent fix tools inside it is you got into a jam. I'm surprised that there wasn't something more appropriate availible for the NT line.

            Take regedit for instance, from a command line you could use the /opt switch to remove whitespace and more or less compact the registry resulting in a faster operating system. You could use the /fix switch that repaired file errors and did something with invalid keys that could cause all sorts of issues. You could even use the /restore switch to go to a recent version of the registry. You could also save an active state registry when everything was working fine, store it off the computer, then reload it when necessary. Of course the ERD programs sort of did this automatically but in WinNT systems, you have to do a repair install in order to restore something from it.

            Fdisk also had the ability to back up the boot sector and store it on another drive. The chkdsk and fixboot utilities seem to have these functions but fail to restore more then the first partition leaving you sort of stuck doing data recovery instead of just having the second partitions.

            There are quite a but more useful tools that came with windows 98. Most of the Fix it tools either automated their uses for most of us who didn't want to learn ever function of every file on the computer. Some of them actually replaced the tools with their own that could be run from recovery disks too. I imagine win doctor was similar to that. Something I generally liked was Fix It Utilities from ontrack/ it seems they are avanquest now (or maybe my memory is losing it). I haven't used them since version 5 or something, they are up to 9 now if that gives you an idea of how long ago we are talking.

        • by GF678 (1453005)

          I've never once had an install repair utility fix ANY program EVER.

          I have. Specifically I used Windows XP recovery option to fix some boot files which were corrupted/deleted. Worked just fine.

          See? Now my anecdotal evidence is as useful as yours.

          • Me too. sfc /scannow and chkdsk /f have fixed quite a few problems. If those fail, the XP recovery utility from the CD has worked a couple of times. Though, I'd rather just reimage the box and be done with it.
    • by kjb542 (1411783) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:11PM (#26717903)
      Then you click on the "Fuck It" tool, which surreptitiously installs Linux....
  • But.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by linal (1116371) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#26717263)
    But Jim has already fixed it for me.
  • Seems exploitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:34PM (#26717317)
    This seems rather exploitable, I wonder how long before we have viruses that hijack this application when an infected user tries to use it. They are better off with a good online knowledge base for common problems than some 'fix it for me' tool. Education is the key to solving the most common issues. I remember removing a number of viruses and spyware from this one ladies computer. She would then promptly go back and download the 'games' that gave her the viruses in the first place. Great for income, not so great when the customers accuses of you not fixing a problem the first time around. More times than not I feel like I should be working on the user instead of the PC. I guess all this goes back to the teach a man to fish analogy.
    • Re:Seems exploitable (Score:5, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:07PM (#26717839)

      If the virus can modify the fixit binary then it already has admin access. Why would the author go through another hoop? Just attack the system.

      The attack Im thinking of is spoofing the fixit4me button on a random webpage and hoping the user downloads your malware, but that's a trojan/social attack that works for just about anything (click here to install flash, etc).

      Some kind of intelligent tool should be doable. Most PC problems are pretty basic and automating the fix straight from the KB makes sense for non-techies. I imagine a common scenario for this will be used by people who know a little tech, but are afraid of modifying the registry or installing a patch as opposed to the clueless grandma. This person would probably see the problem in the event viewer, click on the "what does this mean" button and be sent to the KB with the fixit tool sitting there.

      >Education is the key to solving the most common issues.

      Thats true of most problems, but a lot of people will never learn and simply will require hand-holding forever. Automated tools can do a lot of this hand-holding for them. Automated tools can also help those who understand the issue but may not be technical enough to perform their own fix.

      • by omglolbah (731566)

        Or the people like myself who have spent enough of their life fixing registry keys and other buggered things that could be automated had someone just bothered writing the damn script.

        The KB is very useful for a lot of things but damnit, I hate manually editing a pile of registry keys... Give me a .reg already! (At least for the common and simple problems like swapping a bit in a binary key..)

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:10PM (#26717875)

      In addition to the possibility of exploits in this kind of system, I really worry about what it will do with respect to the very user education issue you mention.

      If Microsoft's official site trains people to trust (and click on) an agreeable-looking "Fit it!" icon, it won't be long before other sites use a surprisingly similar-looking "Fit it!" icon to induce people to click on malware (and click through the various warnings that appear--after all, I trust this thing to fix my computer!). There will always be some users who are easily fooled... but Microsoft should not exacerbate the situation by making people comfortable with the idea of launching system-altering utilities directly from the web browser.

      To me this is no better than the IT department asking you for your password. Yes, you should trust the IT department (and they could no doubt determine your password if they really wanted to)... but it creates a bad habit, where users are accustomed to emailing their passwords to whoever asks and seems even slightly legitimate.

    • by Rary (566291) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:48PM (#26718359)

      There's really nothing here to exploit that hasn't always existed.

      All they've added to the KB document is a link to download an MSI file that, when executed, fixes the problem. As long as the web has existed it has been possible to put a link on a webpage saying "download this little utility which will fix all your problems, honest".

      Really, it just makes sense. If you're already browsing Microsoft's knowledge base, and you've found the document that explains your problem, instead of following the step-by-step "fix it" instructions provided in the document, why not just click on a link that does the work for you.

      So, now they're providing instructions for the people who want to do it themselves, and a convenient utility for the people who don't. Sounds reasonable to me.

    • I do a little Windows maintenance for beer money, so what I'm about to write probably doesn't apply to you. Anyway, if I remove viruses or fix some other problem for somebody and then tell them how avoid the problem in the future, often they admit it's their fault. If they do that, I'll fix the same problem without question. If they blame me, I tell them to fix it themselves and never go back there again.
    • That would be the ultimate "Fixed it for you."

  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:38PM (#26717361)
    This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.
    • 5 bucks? That's the best you can do? At least make it worth my while. A free laptop, or a free iPod or a free annual paid-up subscription to Stream or free broadband for a year. Somethin'.

    • by rts008 (812749) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:50PM (#26717549) Journal

      Beat me to it.

      As soon as I saw the headline, I wondered how long it would take for some intrepid joker to hack the site...linking all of the 'Fix It' buttons to 'Wubi.exe'.

        LOL!!! Hilarity then ensues!

      The year of Linux on the Desktop, indeed...by hook or crook!!

      I would have to celebrate this with a drunken ROFLCOPTER while wearing my Groucho Glasses, and making fart noises with my armpit!

      • Actually, in all seriousness, it's possible for us to have this very technology on Linux: apturl [linutop.com].

        Since .deb packages can contain scripts and configuration files and whatnot, it wouldn't be too hard to create .deb packages that fix common problems.

        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          This is just what we need, having the power of downloading and executing arbitrary code with a single click will finally put Linux on par with Internet Explorer!

    • by Noxn (1458105)
      I will give 100 dollars to the guy who does this.
      We should do some kind of campaign or contest for this.

      So this will fix stuff for me? I dont really think this will work to well.

      cmd:fixitforme.exe -get -girlfriend
    • by Jurily (900488)

      This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.

      Sounds good for irony, but realistically, it would suck. Imagine a metric shitload of fresh Ubuntu users searching for drive C:.

      However, it raises an interesting question: do we have good utilities to make migration easier?

      • This seems like a great thing to try to hack. 5 bucks to the first one who gets the "Fix It" button to download and fire up an Ubuntu installer.

        Sounds good for irony, but realistically, it would suck. Imagine a metric shitload of fresh Ubuntu users searching for drive C:.

        However, it raises an interesting question: do we have good utilities to make migration easier?

        Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.
        -Taylor

        • by Jurily (900488)

          Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.

          Does it resize partitions? Most Windows boxes I've seen have one big partition cover the whole drive. Does it copy the home directory over to the new system? How about multiple users? And other files? How much space does it claim? What if the home directory is larger?

          We need some serious thinking to make this work.

          (Side note: Firefox thinks "resize" is a typo.)

          • Well, With WUBI, I hear it's a pretty nice install and they can still dual boot, so if it just installed itself that way and set it as the default, people could at least see it, and then if they paid attention at boot they could pick windows instead. Heh.

            Does it resize partitions? Most Windows boxes I've seen have one big partition cover the whole drive. Does it copy the home directory over to the new system? How about multiple users? And other files? How much space does it claim? What if the home directory is larger?

            We need some serious thinking to make this work.

            (Side note: Firefox thinks "resize" is a typo.)

            Wubi doesn't need it's own partition, and it doesn't change the bootloader. It runs from one folder in the windows partition. It may only support one user, nor sure about that, but aside from that I've heard its basically identical to a clean install. It can be installed in one click too, so it would be great for this kind of thing (although i don't actually suggest we try that, it would make people think linux was just a virus or something).

            But yeah, wubi is neat, I haven't tried it, but the site here expl

            • by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @06:26PM (#26718801)

              It can be installed in one click too, so it would be great for this kind of thing (although i don't actually suggest we try that, it would make people think linux was just a virus or something).

              That's a stupid idea anyway. Linux is about choice. We only take the willing :)

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                I don't think this is about creating lasting Linux users. I think it is more like the Irony of having to resort to fixes like that instead of having the code secure in the first place. The installing linux is where the irony part comes in, it wouldn't be so much as to get Linux users as it would be to show MS the dangers of relying on something like this.

                • by Jurily (900488)

                  it wouldn't be so much as to get Linux users as it would be to show MS the dangers of relying on something like this.

                  Still, it would be a huge PR blow for Linux as a whole. Why not just sacrifice something crappy, like NetBSD?

                  (Yeah, yeah, I know. But the would be users don't. To compensate, we could offer to sell them a toaster [slashdot.org]. Win-win.)

    • That would be the ultimate "Fixed it for you."

      (Accidentally posted it here [slashdot.org].)

  • Install Linux?

    • by morcego (260031)

      Considering that at least 90% of the time the user is the source of the problem, it will probably kill the user.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:42PM (#26717437)

    ultimately they need to add a "Fuck It" button that, when pressed, formats the HD and installs Ubuntu

  • Zen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:45PM (#26717477)

    the 'Fix it' button, including one that prevents users from connecting a USB storage device -- useful in protecting against one of the infection vectors of the 'Downadup' worm.

    Funny, something I just sent a co-worker fits this.

    "Everything, from people to rocks, axiomatically has a basic nature to what it does, what it just tends to do and how. I find life is much simpler and more pleasant when I recognize what that is, and interact on it/he/she/they on it's own terms and in its own way. This G-D net-nanny [or, in TFA's case, "Fix It" disabling functionality] stuff is just another example of what screws up human existence: instead of facilitating things happening, it stands in the way and interferes in obtuse ways."

    The problem isn't people attaching USB storage devices, it's that OS design flaws allow for malicious misuse. Of course, M$'s "Fix It" solution is to kill the messenger, not fix the "yeah I'll do anything you say" OS - and we all know what kind of annoyance, headaches, breakage and new infection vectors will follow as a result.

    • by bjourne (1034822)
      There are lots of work places where they do not want you to bring classified documents home on a USB stick. Some of them even runs Linux!
  • My idea (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A kbase entry with a "fix it" button for when my network card is not working.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      A kbase entry with a "fix it" button for when my network card is not working.

      Ouch. You hit my sweet spot right there.

      I remember all too well the fresh XP installs and my broken driver CD.

      "Hmmm, the network driver is hosed. I know, I'll look it up on Goo... AAARRRRGGGHHH!"

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#26717605)
    none of them even Google on how to fix a problem.(I know why should they when they got me.) I talked to a family friend about issues with her computer. She took it to Best Buy and didn't like the way they sounded ($79 to diagnose the problem and then more to fix. The $79 was to be put towards any fixes that may arise. They gave the creeps.), so I talked to her.

    The problem with her computer was between the chair and the keyboard. Anyway, to shorten the story, I asked her if she's ever Googled for answer to her problems or looked at the manual. Nope.

    Folks like that who would actually benefit from something like that will never come across it because they don't even think of searching the net for a solution; let alone of actually reading the manual and following the trouble shooting guide in the back.

    People like us, tech savy, will never trust a script like that from MS.

    This is doomed to fail.

    • I'll also give them (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @06:15PM (#26718675)

      That their tools can detect some things you might not think to look for. I've used the "Check for solutions online," thing before. Usually it doesn't get anything, meaning no answer found. Sometimes, it gets generic info that I already knew. Like it'll say "Your graphics driver caused the crash," which is evident from the STOP 0xA in nv4_disp.dll. No real fix, but that could be useful to someone less knowledgeable. I happen to know the files for the graphics driver, and what a STOP 0xA error is, most users probably don't.

      However occasionally, it has been real useful. For example I was trying to install a Sound Blaster X-Fi. I'd launch it's installation CD, and it would crash. Had no idea what was going on. I decided "Ok smart guy, go ahead and check." It responded that Quicktime was the problem. Fine, I'll play ball, I uninstall Quicktime. Sure as shit, installer runs fine. Not something I ever would have though to check.

      So while I certainly won't be running an automated fix script, I do applaud them in trying to increase their ability to check system errors. While I know everyone on Slashdot likes to give MS shit about being the source of all problems, that's really not the case. 3rd party software causes plenty of trouble.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        Uninstalling Quicktime ALWAYS fixes something ...

        Whether it's not making your computer run like shit, or whether it's not rehacking itself into the startup sequence even after you manually removed the registry entries ... something will always work better once Quicktime is gone.

        • by Sj0 (472011)

          This.

          I find it ironic that everyone considers Apple the antipode to Microsoft, when I do everything I can to use open source alternatives to Apple's insane software. Microsoft digs their software into the OS a little. Apple refuses to ever let go.

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Sorry, but you are wrong when you say that the problem is between the chair and the keyboard.

      It's probably true for 99% of people, but not in my case.
      I'm a developer.
      I just installed dotNet 3.5 SP1, and it broke entirely my Visual Studio running on Vista, and I can assure you that I'm an advanced user, and I don't install any malware.
      After a few hours of work, I discovered that my problem is some obscure registry permissions, that Vista f**ed badly. I'm currently applying an obscure subinacl command.
      This is

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        I know the .NET drill. I recent was trying to install a .Net SP and found it failed. I had to try to uninstall all old .NET installations (Excpet for the one that is considered an OS component). Since some of the installers were missing, I had to use the special .NET obliterating tool Microsoft makes available. I then re-install All the recent .Nets. Later a .Net 2.0 app complains with that crytpic error meesaage on startup that it could not find .NET 2.0. It turns out something had killed some random .Net

    • by Myopic (18616)

      Good thing most users are neither like you, nor like your family member! Users come all along the spectrum, so it doesn't necessarily mean failure to launch a product which doesn't appeal to the people on the edges of the bell curve.

      I predict failure for another reason: I assume that this feature will simply not work.

    • I think this is definitely the wrong approach to the problem. Everyone wants their computer to work properly but too many users are completely lost when it comes to fixing a problem. Rather than giving them a fix it for me button, better education about how to use the operating system, and a better knowledge-base would be a much better thing for everyone in my opinion.

      If Microsoft wants to really help the masses, I think an online video series on their website that people could stream, essentially a vi
  • by NonUniqueNickname (1459477) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#26717623)
    Can we get a "Don't break this for me" checkbox instead?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Let's hope for "cancel" and "allow" buttons to be replaced with the more accurate :
      "Please, for the love of God, NOOOO!" and "I'm feeling lucky..."

  • Could be useful... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:10PM (#26717901)

    I've always thought it was strange how KB articles can get to have some really complicated actions, yet they can't just give you a script to do what they're telling you to do. That would be really helpful.

    Here's an example of something i saw the other day:

    1. Insert the CD into the CD drive or DVD drive.
          2. Click Start, and then click Run.
          3. In the Open box, type cmd, and then click OK.
          4. At the command prompt, type the following commands, pressing ENTER after each command:

                expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\config.nt_ c:\windows\system32\config.nt
                expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\autoexec.nt_ c:\windows\system32\autoexec.nt
                expand CD-ROM Drive Letter:\i386\command.co_ c:\windows\system32\command.com
                exit
          5. Start or install the program. If the issue is resolved, do not complete the remaining steps. If the issue is not resolved, go to the next step.
          6. Note: The Command.com file is not edited or created in the following process. Because of this, you may have to expand it from your Windows XP CD-ROM.

                Start Notepad.
          7. In Notepad, type the following entries:

                      dos=high, umb
                device=%SYSTEMROOT%\system32\himem.sys
                files=40

          8. On the File menu, click Save As.
          9. In the File Name box, type Config.nt, and then click Save. Close the Config.nt file.
        10. On the File menu, click New.
        11. In the new blank document, type the following entries:

                @echo off
                        lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\mscdexnt.exe
                        lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\redir
                        lh %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\dosx
                        SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 P330 T3

        12. On the File menu, click Save As.
        13. In the File Name box, type Autoexec.nt, and then click Save. Close the Autoexec.nt file.
        14. Start Windows Explorer. Locate the Config.nt file, right-click the Config.nt file, and then click Copy.
        15. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste.
        16. Locate the Autoexec.nt file, right-click the Autoexec.nt file, and then click Copy.
        17. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste.
        18. Locate the Command.com file, right-click the expanded Command.com file, and then click Copy.
        19. Right-click the %SYSTEMROOT%\System32 folder, and then click Paste. Restart your computer.

    If the issue continues to occur, copy the Autoexec.nt and Config.nt files from the Repair folder in Windows to the System folder. To do so, follow these steps:

          1. Click Start, click Run, type c:\windows\repair, and then click OK.
          2. Right-click Autoexec.nt, and then click Copy.
          3. Click Start, click Run, type c:\windows\system32, and then click OK.
          4. Right-click anywhere in that folder, and then click Paste.
          5. Right-click the Autoexec.nt file that you just copied, and then click Properties.
          6. Click to select Read-Only, and then click OK.
          7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 to copy the Config.nt file.

    Note You must enable Read-Only permissions or the files will be removed after you restart Windows.

    They can't just give me a script to run? It's simple for me to do all that, but time consuming and annoying.
    -Taylor

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:18PM (#26718003)

      Exactly. What I always found frustrating is the "You could damage your computer by using regedit" warnings. but then the instructions say to navigate to this key, then this key, then this one, and right-click here, new, and be sure to use DWORD because if you specify any other type it won't work.

      It would be so much easier to just "Save this.reg file and double-click on it." that way it's impossible for the idiot user to screw up. At least closer to impossible anyway.

      Or at least give a way to navigate directly to the subkey, like a "goto line number" function in a text editor. Of course they do have the "Select a file" dialog that allows you to select by clicking and waiting for the folder browser to read all the files and folders, and the subfolders as well to determine if it needs to put a plus sign there, but not paste in something from the clipboard which you already have. so maybe it was the same design team.

    • When Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta came out, I was interested in installing it and looking at it. However, I had to be able to revert to pre-SP1 fast if I needed to. The uninstall procedure (for a beta) involved over twenty different actions, to be performed manually in order, with vague but dire warnings for those who strayed from the path.

      Now, of course, there's a script to uninstall VS 2008 SP1. My colleague who used it said it took about two hours. You see, he needed to install the 64-bi

    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:38PM (#26718261)

      I've always thought it was strange how KB articles can get to have some really complicated actions, yet they can't just give you a script to do what they're telling you to do.

      And then they have the nerve to tell us Linux is complicated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rantingkitten (938138)
      Amazing. This is what it takes to solve many Microsoft-related problems (ones that aren't "solved" by reinstalling something, which isn't a solution), yet thousands of Windows fanboys proudly thump their chests at how usable it is, while making snotty remarks if a Linux user has to so much as glance sideways at an xterm.

      And at least in Linux, a cursory knowledge of any Unix-based system is enough to get around. There are manpages for stuff. There are things that explain what these options or those swi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Facegarden (967477)

        Amazing. This is what it takes to solve many Microsoft-related problems...

        Well, not really. I've never actually had to do anything that complicated, it was just an example of things i wish they would automate, not me trying to say windows sucks. Turns out that the issue I had with that KB article was solved by rebooting (it has to do with windows giving out larger than 16 bit handles to 16 bit programs), which most users would try anyway first, and there was also a "Method 2" to the KB article (not sure why it wasn't method 1...) that was simpler:

        Method 2

        1. Click Start, click Run, type C:\windows\repair, and then click OK.
        2. Right-click the Autoexec.nt file, and then click Copy.
        3. Click Start, click Run, type %windir%\system32, and then click OK.
        4. In the System32 folder, press Ctrl + V to paste the Autoexec.nt file in this folder.

        My point was just that i wish tha

        • I know your point wasn't really about whether Windows sucks or Linux sucks. It just caught my attention because I'd recently been griping about that very thing -- Microsoft KBs that purport to solve problems, but in reality, they have several different articles for any given problem, and each of them are full of arcane, incomprehensible gibberish involving adding unknown values to unknown registry entries, making text files and magically incanting them to insert themselves somewhere, and the like. None of
      • by Tacvek (948259)

        For what it is worth, the set blaster line instructs old DOS soundblaster drivers to use certain settings, which Window's NT's VDM supports. Please keep in mind that this is essential for proper operation of sound in certain 16-bit Windows applications (read Windows 3.X apps).

  • by fluor2 (242824)

    It's just scripted patches with e.g. included modified files, but included within an MSI.

    I don't see why this cannot be deployed as patches/hotfixes instead of just calling it "FIX IT" scripts.

    I find this amusing. My guess is that Microsoft had so many "IT Professionals" reporting that the fixes in KB articles failed due to UAC blocking them, thus this fix it is coming to town, popping up a window asking for administration privileges.


  • you just open up the browser and put in your question. then search between vulnerability reports and archived mailing lists.
    or posting on some forum and wait for your question to be answered.
    wait, that doesn't seem better...
  • including one that prevents users from connecting a USB storage device

    OK, I've read the blog, still can't find the UBS autorun fix. Considering that it is well knows that just turning off Autorun in XP doesn't really work, it very well might be nice to have this fix. Anyone know where the "fix it" link to this is?

  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @06:29PM (#26718833)

    For example, there is no legitimate reason for AutoRun to work on any device other than an optical disk (and even then, the rationale is debatable given the crap Sony pulled with the rootkit). Change the default to make AutoRun only work for optical disks.

    Or that stupid "hide extensions for known file types" which just makes it harder to tell the difference between porn.jpg (harmless pornography) and porn.jpg.exe (malware pretending to be harmless pornography)

    Also, lets disable the stuff in Outlook and Outlook Express (and other mail clients) that allows code to run just by reading an email. Better yet, introduce "show only text, not HTML" options ala SeaMonkey and others and encourage users to use those options. HTML email is only used for SPAM and other nasty stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yanos (633109)
      A bit off topic here, but, about Autorun...
      I never understood why MS is sticking to this way of doing things. I don't really want to go into the whole Mac vs PC thing, but OSX really nailed that I think. It's nice to have something that popups when you put a CDROM in the drive (for the average user anyway). But executing random code from a foreign media is of course terrible. So, in OSX, it's Finder (a bit like explorer) that pop ups, displaying the files on the CD. And since you can determine in advance t
    • Actually, Outlook and Outlook Express already have options to read mail in plain-text. Now, whether those options should be checked by default (they're currently not), is another matter...

      I don't quite recall everything clearly, but I remember a lot of people were unhappy when Windows Mail (the successor to Outlook Express) was removed in Windows 7, because they were no longer able to use their HTML templates. Sure, you don't use HTML email, but that doesn't mean no one should use it.

      I agree with you on the

  • by iminplaya (723125)

    I would rather download a nice little utility [microsoft.com], but Microsoft seems to want to take this direction [microsoft.com]. Now that's progress!

    You may find it easier to follow the steps if you burn down your house first.

  • A lot of windows software (not MS software specifically) have fixit instructions on their web page to take care of problems - a lot of these are lists of things I wouldn't want my mom trying without my standing over her shoulder. "Start by downloading and opening this registry editing tool...."

    Symantec is god of this phenomena, and tried to give the MAC community a "uninstaller" for their antivirus software (don't even get me started) that was something like 119 terminal commands to type. (no, I am not kid

  • I'd like the tool to be able to fix the problem with Microsoft Vista backup. If you have a nonstandard boot loader (such as grub) and multiple partitions, the backup utility in won't detect any devices to back up to... have to rely on third party tools.
  • This is long overdue. Seriously. They need to identify the problems and FIX IT! [hulu.com].

  • FirstAidKit [fedoraproject.org]

    Summary

    Firstaidkit is an automated recovery tool that brings together common recovery processes and applies them to a system. The way that Firstaidkit handles the recovery processes is by means of plugins. The idea being that a plugin will focus on a particular issue in the system, like grub, init scripts or Xserver. Firstaidkit is designed to automatically fix problems while focusing on maintaining user data integrity. In other words, Firstaidkit will try its best to fix your system while

  • Fix It For Me is a stopgap measure. Disabling USB storage devices while Windows is running is a start in the right direction, but I'm looking forward to Fix It 2010 - Ultimate Edition , which sends an E-Mail to a qualified system administrator requesting that Linux be installed on the machine and then promptly performs a HARD shutdown.
  • Microsoft announced that the MSCE exam course can now be completed in less than half an hour!
  • Ctrl + Alt + Linux?

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