Successfully installed Release Candidate 2 of WIndows XP Service Pack 2
on a test machine last night. The morning, I was greeted by a screen
asking me to turn on Automatic Updates, with green and red shields
lifted from McAfee or similar security products. This option not only
downloads but installs patchs as Microsoft distributes them. While this
might be an appropriate setting for a non-professional, it’s important
to me to evaluate the possible dangers to installing, say, an hour
before a major presentation (ask me about Visual Studio Service Pack 5
and my nine GPFs during a DevCon sesssion sometime). Also, you can find
very few patches available from Microsoft that aren’t version 1.0a,
revised or reissued. They just don’t get them right the first time. I’d
prefer to evaluate the danger of being exposed to a flaw, expecially in
products I don’t use, like Outlook Express or Media Player, in
comparison to the possibility of destabilizing a production machine.
So, I passed on the Automatic Updates.
Next stop (“Where do you want to go today?”),
Windows Update. Interestingly, Windows Update came up with a “We’re
Sorry” message and a bar across the top of the page saying “This site
might require the following ActiveX control: ‘Windows Update’ from
‘Microsoft Windows Publisher’. Click here to install….” I’m not sure
how that really differs from the older means of confirming
installation, except I don’t see the “Always trust content from
Microsoft” joke checkbox. Clicking on the bar produces a pop-up menu
with three options: “Install ActiveX Control…:, “What’s the Risk?”
and “Information Bar Help” — the last two options both pop yet another
window with the Microsoft Internet Explorer HTML Help. “What’s the
Risk?” doesn’t explain what the risk is, it explains the variety of
messages the bar may display. It appears that ActiveX controls without
valid digital signatures are blocked. The page does on to ask:
“Do you trust the Web site providing the control?
Don’t install an ActiveX control unless you absolutely trust the Web
site that is giving you the control. Click on Related Topics for
information about how to decide if you can trust a Web site.” OK, I’ll
skip the diatribe on whether I should “absolutely trust” Microsoft and
go on to try to install the control.
Selecting “Install ActiveX Control…” brings up yet another dialog,
titled, “Internet Explorer – Security Warning” and asks “Do you want to
install this software? ” with a “More options” button, “Install,”
“Don’t Install” and another pane across the bottom “This type of file
can harm your computer. Only install software from publishers you
trust.” and a link “How can I decide what software to install?” that
again goes the help file, on a different topic. The “More options”
button expands the form, revealing option buttons to “Always install
software from ‘Microsoft Window Publisher’.” “Never install…” and
“Ask me every time” with the last option selected. Seems like “Always
trust Microsoft” lives on.
Finally, the “Install” button really does install the control. However,
the page doesn’t refresh, and I’m left staring at a message that says
“Windows Update has encountered an error and cannot display the
requested page. Try refreshing the page, clearning yor Internet
Explorer Temporary Internet Files, closing and restarting Internet
Explorer, or trying Windows Update again later.” and then it goes on
with “Self-help options” and “assisted support options.” Jeeez.
Refresh didn’t work. I get the “Checking for Windows Update and then a
message “Get the latest Windows Update software” followed by “We’ve
made improvements to our website. To download the new version of the
software and beding using WIndows Update, please click Install Now.” I
thought I already did that. Then, I get the “Sorry” message again.
Third time through (because I’m noting all of the message here) and it
starts installing successfully. Go figure.
Now we get another page “Welcome” says the message “update your computer” and presents two options:
“Express Install (Recommended): High Priority Updates for Your Computer
… Choose this for the fastest updating. Quickly scan for, download
and install only the critical and security updates your computer needs”
“Custom Install: High Priority and Optiona Updates for Your Computer…
Chose this to scan for optional, critical and securit updates your
computer needs, choose from all the updates on the site and review
updates before downloading.”
I choose the latter, of course.
What do you know! No “high priority updates” to install. Good news at last.
Overall, I thought the “eXPerience” was painful, drawn out, and not
terribly helpful. The issues could be explained without several trips
to the Help file. People who are just trying to install some new
internet toy are either going to gullibly ignore all the warnings you
put up, or they are going to pass on the process that is too
However, the machine is finally patched up to date and I can begin testing. More news as it happens…