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Thursday, 28 January 2016 12:29

Keeping Windows 10 upgrade at bay is a tough task Featured

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Microsoft has been slipping in code with its regular updates to make users accept an upgrade to Windows 10 whether they like it or not, as reported in iTWire on Tuesday.

But preventing this from happening on systems that run Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 is not as simple as turning off automatic updates, the option recommended by Microsoft among the four on offer.

When automatic updates are turned off in Windows 7, there is no way to check updates manually. Hitting the "Check for Updates" button results in an error message popping up: "Windows Update error 80244019."

To resolve this one has to go through a complicated series of manual steps which I would challenge the average Windows user to carry out without screwing up.

Here they are (as taken from this Microsoft help page):

To restart services required by Windows Update

You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

Open Administrative Tools by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Administrative Tools.

Double-click Services. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In the Services window, double-click Background Intelligent Transfer Service.

On the General tab, under Startup type, click Manual, and then click Apply.

Click the Log On tab, and make sure the service is enabled in every hardware profile listed.

Click the General tab, click Start, and then click OK. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In the Services window, double-click Windows Event Log.

On the General tab, next to Startup type, make sure that Automatic is selected.

Next to Service status, check to see if the service is started. If it is not, click Start, and then click OK. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In the Services window, double-click the Windows Update service.

On the General tab, next to Startup type, make sure that Automatic is selected.

Next to Service status, check to see if Started is listed. If it is not, click Start, and then click OK. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In the Services window, double-click Software Licensing.

On the General tab, next to Startup type, make sure that Automatic is selected.

Next to Service status, check to see if Started is listed. If it is not, click Start, and then click OK. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Close the Services window, and try to install Windows updates again.

The instructions appear to be for Windows 8 and 8.1 because they do not match exactly the options in the Services window on Windows 7.

There are two other settings in the Updates section: to check for updates and then wait for user interaction to download and install or to check for updates, download them and then wait for user interaction to install. The former seems to be the safer option.

This is not the first time I have seen Microsoft make users accept its recommendations by making the alternative difficult for the average user to implement. And it probably will not be the last.

The company could make it much easier for users by offering two options in the Updates section: automatic (recommended) and manual. A check box next to each option would make it simple to select. But then users would be somewhat in control of the process and when did you ever hear of Microsoft ceding control to any user?

Apple is every bit as proprietary as Microsoft, probably even more. But Apple has a simple way to turn off automatic security updates, one that does not interfere with the process of getting them in manually.

Photo: Courtesy Microsoft


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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