Windows 9 is now Windows 10

Alexia
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Sat 10 Dec, 2016 15.59

It is interesting to see Nokia (OK I know it's not THE Nokia) switch from Windows to Android though....
cwathen
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Sat 10 Dec, 2016 16.22

Alexia wrote:It is interesting to see Nokia (OK I know it's not THE Nokia) switch from Windows to Android though....
I think it sort of is (in people terms anyway) - the Nokia-branded featurephones part of the business has been spun out and sold to a new business made up of staff that came from Nokia > Microsoft mobile in the first place AIUI, and they are now collaborating with Foxconn to produce a new range of Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets.

A bit of an odd move from MIcrosoft - I appreciate they acquired the business to develop the Lumia line and after writing most of the cost off they will want to see if they can claw anything back, but I would've thought the little Nokia feature phones remain a profitable part of the business - they require very little development and there is still clear demand for them.

Essentially they've kept the most difficult and struggling part of the business (both under MIcrosoft and under Nokia) whilst they've sold off a nice simple part of the business and allowed the purchaser to walk off with the brand name (which must still have some value attached to it) to knock out Android-based devices which are easily and readily accepted by the market and well supported by developers in contrast to the Lumia-branded Windows Mobile devices which they are struggling to create demand for.

Or perhaps they are pinning everything on this new 'superphone' that can run a full version of Windows?
MS are still seen as the band guys due to a lot of historic practices (which Google seem to be following)
I always thought the way Microsoft have been treated is very unfair. The worst thing Microsoft ever did was bundle a web browser and a media player with their operating system and this made them 'anticompetitive and monopolistic' which people are still banging on about after 20 years whilst you have Apple building more of a walled garden and closed platform than MIcrosoft ever did and you have Google seemingly on a quest to buy out the internet - but both are seen as cool friendly companies whilst Microsoft is the enemy. Ultimately, computing would never be what it is without Microsoft.
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Nick Harvey
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Sun 11 Dec, 2016 15.31

cwathen wrote:I always thought the way Microsoft have been treated is very unfair. The worst thing Microsoft ever did was bundle a web browser and a media player with their operating system and this made them 'anticompetitive and monopolistic' which people are still banging on about after 20 years whilst you have Apple building more of a walled garden and closed platform than MIcrosoft ever did and you have Google seemingly on a quest to buy out the internet - but both are seen as cool friendly companies whilst Microsoft is the enemy. Ultimately, computing would never be what it is without Microsoft.
Like!
cwathen
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Thu 08 Mar, 2018 20.55

A somewhat huge bump....

It's finally happened. The enforced updates policy has wreaked havoc with a client I support. They are an SME with 8 locations having 3 counter positions each and run a legacy bizarro-world EPOS system which only works on XP. There is no budget to replace this system. Instead, the way forward that was sold to them 6 years ago (not by me, although I don't think it was a bad solution) was to upgrade everything to WIndows 7, add an additional 'server' machine in every branch which was actually a Windows 7 machine, then use Virtualbox to provide 3 virtualised XP environments (with network settings very locked down) which are connected to from their counter positions using WinFlector (a pretty nifty client/server solution which is similar to Citrix but at a fraction of the cost).

A couple of years ago when the free Windows 10 offer was available they did an upgrade on all of it to WIndows 10 in the interests of 'latest and greatest'. This immediately caused them problems as the lack of control over updates and the requirement for major build updates every 6 months caused havoc with their servers which was mission critical to stay up during business hours.

I have helped them get things working in a relatively settled way, moving them on to 'Current Branch For Business', deferring feature updates for a year and setting active time so that security updates only get installed outside of business hours. I've also dealt with other build updates by booking in time when they are closed to upgrade everything.

But today I got a call advising that the 'server had gone down' in one of their branches during a busy time of the day. Despite everything being set to stop updates whilst they are open, Microsoft has deigned that this doesn't apply to build updates and decided that it was absolutely not going to tolerate this particular server being 1 version behind the current build any longer. The update also triggered Virtualbox's internal hardening 'feature', which thought the host system had been compromised so stopped any of their VM's from loading so even after the update their system did not come back up. This was ultimately easily fixed but some frantic Googling was required first which took more time.

As I was dealing with this first system, I found that 2 of their other servers (and a few of their counter workstations) were also pulling down the update. Then I saw the magic in action. Once the update has downloaded, there is a 30 minute countdown, then it restarts without warning and it updates. No one saw this on the first server as the screen to it isn't usually switched on. You can abort the countdown, just for it to come back a short while later. So I've spent the rest of the day having a connection open to all their servers, and stopping upgrades that attempted to happen, and have now spent my evening performing the upgrade earlier than planned (we had booked time in to do it in April) on the server machines just to get it done and guarantee they won't have this problem going forward. Nice bit of unexpected extra work for me, but this is not a scenario which would've happened before Windows 10.

Before anyone says 'you shouldn't be running a server on a client OS', my client uses no feature at all which needs Windows Server (they don't even use any Windows Pro features, although they do have it). This solution worked fine in Windows 7, so why should they have to invest in a £500 operating system when the £80 alternative is all they need just to get control over updates?

As I've said before, it's not enough just to provide long term support versions with control over updates as an 'Enterprise' feature (particularly since this version is not sold outside of Software Assurance). The IT system of an SME too small to have Software Assurance is no less mission critical than that of a multinational company. Users of all classes need more control over updates than Microsoft is willing to provide, and it is not an acceptable solution to deliver major updates as a new build of the operating system every 6 months (particularly when very little has actually changed about Windows 10 since it launched). It is also particularly unacceptable for the few controls they do provide to be ignored for certain classes of updates - based on everything that was set, this shouldn't have happened.

Trying to treat Windows as if it was some phone/tablet OS in need of constant updates and where such updates can be considered trivial is still for me ruining what is otherwise a pretty decent operating system.
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Ebeneezer Scrooge
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 08.25

Are you able to install WSUS on a machine to trap updates with Win10 and then point the clients to pick up only the approved updates?

Just had a look a man-look* at the WSUS system requirements and I can't see a Windows server requirement for it (we'd been running it for years on an outdated OS) - seems that it'd be worth considering in that sort of environment.

*So could easily have missed the glaringly obvious
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WillPS
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 11.25

cwathen wrote:
Thu 08 Mar, 2018 20.55
There is no budget to replace this system.
And yet they do have the budget to call you out to fix it every time it breaks. Screams of a total false economy.

Whether they like it or not, the solution they have doesn't (and wont) work reliably any more and they should invest in a replacement.
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cwathen
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 12.40

Ebeneezer Scrooge wrote:Are you able to install WSUS on a machine to trap updates with Win10 and then point the clients to pick up only the approved updates?
I knew you could update client operating systems through WSUS and therefore trap updates that way but I thought you needed a Windows Server machine to run it? If not, it sounds like a great solution. Even if so, it may be an idea to convince them to pay for one Windows Server licence and use that to control updates on everything else.

WillPS wrote: And yet they do have the budget to call you out to fix it every time it breaks. Screams of a total false economy.
As with many businesses in this predicament, their existing system was bespoke for the exact needs of their business, it did not come cheap when it was bought and it continues to do everything they need so remains fit for purpose from that perspective. EPOS software always comes with eyewatering price tags. Before they moved off of XP onto the virtualised solution they have now, they did get a quote for a replacement - once the customisations they required were done it came in at 40K + VAT, and a condition of licencing it was entering into a support contract with the supplier which would not have been cheap. The cost of moving to a virtualised platform and keeping the existing system came in at less than the VAT component alone on a new system, and based on the amount of support they need (which usually isn't that much) 40K would pay my invoices for anything up to 15 years. If they're still using it in 2030, then you might have a point.
Whether they like it or not, the solution they have doesn't (and wont) work reliably any more and they should invest in a replacement.
The replacement virtualised platform to keep it running generally is very reliable, all the issues are around being deluged with updates that can't be properly controlled and around delivering updates as new builds of the operating system.

I wouldn't mind so much if there was something tangible to show for being on the 6th build of Windows 10 in less than 3 years, but fundamentally it's not really much different to the version that launched in 2015. Yes it's a bit more mature and there have been a few nice capability upgrades, but really it just feels like it's had a service pack and some minor updates, nothing to justify essentially being forced to reinstall it every 6 months and wonder what will break this time or whether they've decided to deprecate a feature that you use.

As I said though, In this case, the settings in place (which were exposed UI controls, no dubious hacks) should have been sufficient to manage the issue until a convenient time to deal with it but they were ignored because Microsoft deemed this update too necessary to abide by the settings so decided it was just going to do it. That is singularly ridiculous. This is no way to update a desktop operating system used in business, particularly when apart from the way they're updating it it's a pretty good operating system.
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WillPS
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 15.14

But that is the way Microsoft deign fit to manage the standard Windows 10 desktop OS. This was known when Microsoft offered free upgrades, an offer which they didn't have to accept (and clearly wasn't adequately risk assessed if it came as a surprise). The other option was to stay with Windows 7 and accept that eventually that too would be EOL'd.

If the system is going to break whenever Microsoft puts out an upgrade, that isn't an acceptable risk.

£40k doesn't strike me as being a huge sum of money for a business with 8 locations.
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woah
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 17.18

This seems like a fairly bonkers and overly complex solution but I know how these things can be. Not an expert in EPOS solutions but surely XP is still processing card transactions and therefore must have some contact with the internet in some capacity?

As for Windows 10, what you really want is the LTSB version. We use it and it's a really nice clean build without any of the crap like Windows Store etc that you just don't want in a corporate/professional environment generally - plus you have total control over updates. It does need a volume license agreement with Microsoft though.
cwathen
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Fri 09 Mar, 2018 21.37

WillPS" wrote:But that is the way Microsoft deign fit to manage the standard Windows 10 desktop OS. This was known when Microsoft offered free upgrades, an offer which they didn't have to accept (and clearly wasn't adequately risk assessed if it came as a surprise). The other option was to stay with Windows 7 and accept that eventually that too would be EOL'd.

If the system is going to break whenever Microsoft puts out an upgrade, that isn't an acceptable risk.

£40k doesn't strike me as being a huge sum of money for a business with 8 locations.
40K over 8 sites amortised over 10 years probably isn't bad value, but then it's not you or I signing those cheques. This business decided they didn't want to spend £40000+VAT+be tied to a vendor support contract to move away from a system which did what they needed and ultimately only be able to sell the same products to the same customers afterwards. They went for a cheaper solution. Which worked fine. Moving to Windows 10 was advice they got (also not from me) in order to bag the free upgrade. Again, keeping at least the servers on 7 would have mitigated these issues for now, but it still doesn't alter that Windows 7 is almost a decade old and fast approaching EOL. Once that happens, Windows 10 is all there is. And it's forced upgrade policy is unworkable in a mission critical environment.

However, whatever was known about what Microsoft would do, they did not state that their updates would be so disruptive as to ignore settings which they provided to delay updates to a convenient time just because they reckoned this particular update had to be done right now. We knew we had to upgrade to the new build and we had planned it in. We did not plan on Windows taking matters into it's own hands.

I do have some sympathy for why Microsoft went this way - they have a problem with people holding on to Windows XP, they are almost certainly about to have a problem with people holding on to Windows 7, they had a problem in that they made Windows 8 but no one bought it. So now they want Windows 10 to be a platform they can push forward on their terms and not need the users to be on board with. I also get that when 10 was released they envisioned it being a multi platform operating system that would run different devices and different architectures and part of that would include the need for constant revisions without much user input. But that's now clearly flopped too. Windows is and continues to be successful only as a desktop operating system which will make it's big bucks in corporate use on PC's and nothing else. And corporate users needs a stable platform which doesn't change very often.
woah wrote:
Fri 09 Mar, 2018 17.18
This seems like a fairly bonkers and overly complex solution but I know how these things can be. Not an expert in EPOS solutions but surely XP is still processing card transactions and therefore must have some contact with the internet in some capacity?

As for Windows 10, what you really want is the LTSB version. We use it and it's a really nice clean build without any of the crap like Windows Store etc that you just don't want in a corporate/professional environment generally - plus you have total control over updates. It does need a volume license agreement with Microsoft though.
It doesn't have integrated card processing, they use separate PDQ machines for that.

I would love to move them to the LTSB version. Unfortunately as you say there is no access to it unless you are big enough to have volume licensing. If you are an SME then you are stuck with standard Windows 10 Pro including all the bundled crap and with little control over updates. At least with previous versions of Windows there was an 'Ultimate' version so you could at least choose to pay for Enterprise level functionality without having an agreement if you wanted it but with 10 there is no corresponding version.

And this is all surely the point - Microsoft claimed it a necessary move to switch to this new rapid release strategy with frequent updates yet immediately provided an LTSB branch where even the RTM version from 2015 is still supported and this shows WIndows 10 working absolutely fine long term without being constantly updated beyond security updates - but then they shat on everyone using retail SKU's by not letting them have access to it and continue to force people on standard versions to be continually updated.

If big corporations need to control their updates to keep mission critical systems running with confidence, then so do SME's.
Charlie Wells
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Mon 12 Mar, 2018 09.31

The latest (Creative Falls?) update has also been a bit of a pain at my workplace. The previous version updates had given a clear option of choosing a time or at least waiting until you to restart the PC. Whereas this time initially a prompt appeared with the option to postpone or pick a time. However if you ignored this too long it would just a (10 minute?) count down to an automatic restart/install, with only the option to postpone it.

Naturally as this relied on the user physically intervening we've had at least one person whose computer restarted itself during working hours, meaning they were without a PC for about 90 minutes. Overall the Windows 10 OS has been fine, however this forced method of updating is far from ideal for businesses. We've still got two XP machines in operation across our branches which I've been trying to retire for quite some time.
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