Category: Microsoft Windows


If you have Microsoft Security Essentials installed and are still using Windows Vista, you are now facing a huge problem when it comes to scanning and detecting Malware. As of April 11, 2017, support for Windows Vista officially ended, which also means that Microsoft decided that you should no longer be able to use Security Essentials. Fortunately, there is a way to continue using Security Essentials without being nagged with messages telling you that support has ended and that your computer is at risk.

The fix is very easy. Uninstall your current version of Security Essentials and install an earlier version, which would be v4.4.304.0. Finding a copy is very hard since Microsoft no longer offers this version, leaving you with 3rd party sites to choose from, which may be hacked or contain malware. Luckily, the Internet Archive has the Microsoft hosted versions on hand and can be downloaded below.

Microsoft Security Essentials  v4.4.304.0 – 32-bit / 64-bit

Once you’ve installed v4.4.304.0, go to Windows Update in the control panel, check for updates, and if a newer version of Security Essentials is available to download, uncheck it and hide it as installing a version higher than 4.4 will result in disablement and nag messages due to the end of support. Microsoft apparently made this change starting with v4.5 to get people off of Windows XP and also decided to extend it to later versions just to irritate users who refuse to or can’t upgrade to the latest version of Windows.

Reverting back to v4.4.304.0 can also be done with Windows XP as well as Windows 7 for when the time comes. (Unless Microsoft issues some kind of update that will prevent an older version of Security Essentials from installing/running). However, it can’t be done on Windows 8 or higher as Security Essentials (renamed to Windows Defender) is now part of the OS, and uninstalling it is not possible. You can only upgrade “Windows Defender” via Windows Update.

Even though it’s better having some protection then none, installing v4.4.304.0 of Security Essentials should only be done to extend the use of the operating system for a few months after support has ended. Without monthly security updates, your computer will be at risk to new threats. If you must use your computer on the internet, don’t use Internet Explorer, only visit trusted sites and avoid sites that require or use personal and banking info.

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On Windows 10, you have the option to choose Windows Spotlight, a collection of images that will display on the lock screen. However, there’s a flaw with this feature. After selecting the Windows Spotlight option under the Personalization > Lock Screen section of the Settings app, the lock screen from that point on will always display a Windows Spotlight picture upon booting into Windows, that is, should you decide to switch back and use your own picture. When you login to Windows and lock the computer, your selected picture will be displayed like it should. Selecting a different picture will not remove the Windows Spotlight picture upon boot.

There is a way to remove the Windows Spotlight lock screen picture upon boot, but it isn’t as simple as changing a setting. It requires deleting a non-accessible system folder as well as the Windows Spotlight files. There are a few other sites that explain how to do this, but they are for removing a picture that came pre-loaded with Windows 10. Similar to the Spotlight but a slightly different procedure.

WARNING: Use the following at your own risk. I will not be reasonable if this procedure damages your Windows installation.

First, make sure you have your own picture selected for the lock screen, and that the Windows Spotlight option is not selected under Personalization > Lock Screen section of the Settings app.

Next, you need to download a registry file from this site in order to continue. This will add a “Take Ownership” option to the File Explorer’s context menu. This is required as the files and folders that you need to get to are protected and you will be denied access, even if you are logged in as an administrator. (There is also a registry file on that same site that will uninstall the “Take Ownership” option, so you can remove it from the context menu when you’re done).

After you have initialized the registry file, open File Explorer, click on the view tab and make sure the hidden items option is selected. Then navigate to the following folder:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows

Right-click on the SystemData folder and select Take Ownership from the context menu. Select yes when the User Account Control appears. Open the SystemData folder, then open the folder S-1-5-21-<string of numbers> and then the ReadOnly folder. You should now see some folders labeled LockScreen_ with a letter at the end. Open and view each folder until you find the folder with the current Spotlight picture that appears when Windows boots up. (Mine was in LockScreen_O). Move that folder with the Spotlight picture onto your desktop. (Deleting it will not move it to the Recycle Bin, it will be deleted permanently).

With that folder removed, the next step is to delete the contents of the folder used to download and store the Windows Spotlight pictures. If the contents of that folder are not deleted, the LockScreen_ folder containing the Spotlight picture that you just removed will be re-created when you logoff/shutdown the computer and the Spotlight picture will return. To get to the Windows Spotlight files, navigate to the following folder:

C:\Users\<Your Name>\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Asset

Delete all the files in the Asset folder. These files should be re-created if you decide to re-enable Windows Spotlight.

Restart the computer. The lock screen should now display your selected picture and not a Windows Spotlight picture. Once you’ve logged in, you can remove the “Take Ownership” option from the context menu if you don’t need it anymore. You can also delete the LockScreen_<letter> folder off your desktop.

Microsoft needs to fix this issue in a future version of Windows.

 

References
Fixing the Windows 10 Pre-Login Background Screen – the mergy notes
How to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images – TekRevue

As most any Windows 7 or 8.1 user already knows, Microsoft has a program that allows you to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. The program, Get Windows 10 (or GWX) is downloaded and installed on qualifying systems via Windows Update. Once installed, the user has the option to use the Get Windows 10 program to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. The free upgrade, as of the date of this post, is only valid until July 31, 2016.

While many users have taken advantage of the upgrade, I prefer NOT to upgrade my Windows 7 systems. I am currently happy with Windows 7, but Microsoft keeps insisting that I should upgrade to Windows 10.

To make it clear, I have used Windows 10. While it is an improvement over Windows 8, it still can’t top Windows 7. I don’t like the new Start Menu, even though I can use a 3rd party tool like Classic Shell to reinstall a Windows Vista/7 style Start Menu. Windows 10 gives you less features and forces you to use basic featureless app versions of certain programs that originally came with older versions of Windows, some of which are ad supported. Then you have the infamous telemetry in Windows 10 that allows Microsoft to collect app usage and crash data, which can contain your personal information and unsaved document data.

There is probably some other stuff about Windows 10 that I’ve missed, but this post isn’t about what I like or dislike about Windows 10. This post is about the Get Windows 10 app …err, program (I call the full screen programs apps).

Other sites have mentioned that the GWX program acts like a malicious program. I totally agree with them. Once installed, the GWX program is similar to adware. It will display slides and pop-ups about Windows 10 and try to convince you to upgrade, basically a big advertisement about Windows 10. The other malicious thing about GWX is that it will download the Windows 10 setup files and even install Windows 10 without notifying the user. This is a huge “no-no” as the whole point of the User Access Control is to prevent programs from running/installing/doing anything without the user’s permission. Also, a big complaint a few months ago was that the Windows 10 setup files were downloading over metered connections, causing people to exceed their data usage.

Now, with everything I mentioned above, I recently bought two computers with Windows 7 pre-installed so I could avoid Windows 10 for the next 4 years. On both computers, I hid the GWX update (KB3035583) so I wouldn’t have to worry about any surprise installations of Windows 10. To my surprise, Microsoft has apparently patched Windows 7 to unhide that update and install it on a monthly basis, WITHOUT ANY NOTIFICATION! I have uninstalled it 3 times already. My other hidden updates remain on the “hidden” list.

Microsoft does NOT take NO for an answer. They are determined to install Windows 10 on every Windows 7 machine. This forcing of Windows 10 is completely unacceptable and needs to stop. If anyone from Microsoft is reading this, I hope I make myself clear…

PLEASE STOP FORCING WINDOWS 10 ON MY COMPUTER!!! I DON’T WANT IT, EVEN IF IT’S FREE!!!

Update: I eventually gave in decided to upgrade my laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 10 via the free Get Windows 10 offer. The plan was to take advantage of the Windows 10 Pro upgrade (being that I had Windows 7 Professional), then revert back to 7 once activation took place. I wanted to do this in case I wanted or needed to upgrade to Windows 10 in the future. In other words, allowing me to upgrade to Windows 10 (again) for free long after the offer ended. What happened was my overall experience of Windows 10 drastically changed after the upgrade, with programs running faster and 3rd party tools like Classic Shell making it easier to use Windows 10. In fact, the biggest reason for not reverting back to Windows 7 was that a particular issue with my WiFi adapter disappeared after the upgrade, probably due to the Windows 10 driver being newer than the Windows 7 driver, which apparently was no longer being updated by the manufacturer. I’ll hold on to Windows 10 for now, that is, until Microsoft changes or adds something that will tick me off. I still disagree with Microsoft nagging you to upgrade or forcefully upgrading to Windows 10 without the user’s consent. That should have been up to the user, not Microsoft.

When you try to change the Internet/E-mail links on the Start Menu from Internet Explorer and Outlook Express through the Taskbar and Start Menu properties on a Windows XP system, the changes do not take effect.

The problem occurs after installing a recent Windows security update, KB2926765. Normally this update is not available for Windows XP as it was released after support ended, but it will download and install on a Windows XP system that has been patched with the Windows POSReady 2009 hack. The update also affects Windows POSReady 2009 as it is essentially Windows XP.

After installing the KB2926765 update and restarting Windows, the Internet/Email links on the Start Menu will default to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Changing the links through the Taskbar and Start Menu properties does not work. To resolve the problem, open “Add or Remove Programs”, check “Show Updates” and uninstall “Security Update for Windows XP (KB2926765)”. Restart Windows and functionally should be restored to the Start Menu Internet/E-mail selections.

When visiting Microsoft Update on a Windows XP system, you get the following message and error:

The website has encountered a problem and cannot display the page you are trying to view. The options provided below might help you solve the problem. [Error number: 0x80248015]

The error is usually a result of the time & date being set incorrectly. However, since November 18, 2014, the error may also be a result of a defective file, MUWEB.DLL, version 7.6.7600.257. Downloading an older version of the file, version 7.6.7600.256, and copying over the newer version may correct the problem.

Use the links below to download version 7.6.7600.256 of MUWEB.DLL from Microsoft’s website.
MUWEB.CAB
(Windows XP 32-Bit)
MUWEB.CAB (Windows XP Pro SP2 64-Bit)

Extract MUWEB.DLL from the cab file and copy it to the Windows\System32 directory. Confirm file replacement and retry the Microsoft Update website.

Note: This only applies to Microsoft Update. Windows Update appears to be unaffected. The two sites look identical, but Microsoft Update offers additional software. If you have Microsoft Update installed, there is no way to switch back to Windows Update while Microsoft Update fails to work. If Microsoft Update is installed and you try to visit the Windows Update site, you will automatically be redirected to Microsoft Update.

The other day I was having an issue with the Windows XP AutoRun feature. When inserting a disc that utilizes the autorun.inf file, the drive acted like it was going to launch the program on the disc, but never displayed anything on the screen. Discs without the autorun.inf file worked fine displaying the AutoPlay dialog box. (Note: There is a difference between AutoRun and AutoPlay. Scroll down to the end of this post for more details.)

After using Microsoft’s AutoFix program, verifying registry settings and such, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the problem. After restarting and logging into Windows, I immediately inserted my disc. The autorun feature worked fine. But after a few moments, I reinserted the disc and got nothing, just like before. That told me that there was a startup program that was possibly interfering with the AutoRun feature.

Using Sysinternals’ Autoruns program, (which has nothing to do with the AutoRun feature) I disabled one startup entry at a time and restarted the computer until the problem disappeared. Sure enough, I found the conflicting program.

As the title of this post suggests, the problem was a startup program related to PowerDVD.  PDVDDXSVR.EXE was the program blocking the AutoRun program from executing. Although it is still disabled on my computer, PowerDVD DX seems to run fine without it. I’m still not sure what the purpose of PDVDDXSVR.EXE  is other then blocking AutoRun feature.

AutoRun – A program that automatically executes when a disc or other removable media is inserted.
AutoPlay – A dialog box that lists a number of commands based on the content that’s on the removable media.

The new tab screen with no options.

When opening a new tab in Internet Explorer 8, you will see the “What Do You Want To Do Next?” text, but no options for restoring last browsing session, InPrivate browsing, opening closed tabs and accelerators. You may also get the following page error:

Element not found.
tabswelcome.htm
Code: 0
URI: res://ieframe.dll/tabswelcome.htm
Line: 144 – Char: 1

This happens when an entry in the Windows registry points to a different DLL file then the one needed to operate the options in the new tabs window. Instead of pointing to ieframe.dll, it points to a different file, shdocvw.dll.

Warning: The following involves modifying the Windows registry. Incorrect modifications can prevent Windows from working.

  1. If Internet Explorer is open, close it.
  2. Open the Start menu and select Run
  3. In the text box, type regedit and hit enter.
  4. In the left column, navigate to the following folder:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\TypeLib\{EAB22AC0-30C1-11CF-A7EB-0000C05BAE0B}\1.1\zero*\win32
  5. Change the path in the (Default) key to C:\Windows\System32\ieframe.dll
  6. Click OK and close the Registry Editor. Open Internet Explorer and open a new tab. The new tab options should be restored.

*The zero in the path is actually the number 0.  WordPress removes the number 0 for some reason, incorrectly making the path read as 1.1\win32

After uninstalling Windows Media Player 11 and reverting back to the previous version, you may find that the collection of Battery visualizations only has a random selection.

To fix this problem, you will have to re-register the WMP.DLL file located in the WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory.

  1. Click Start and select Run.
  2. In the text box, type or copy/paste the following line:
    Regsvr32 "c:\windows\system32\wmp.dll"
  3. Click OK. A message will appear stating that WMP.DLL was loaded.
  4. Open Windows Media Player and check your Battery visualizations.

You should now have the individual selections for the Battery visualizations.

Windows Live Photo Gallery (included with Windows Live Essentials) is a nice program to organize, touchup, and view your digital photos. When Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 was released, people noticed a change in how Photo Gallery displays slideshows. Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 uses a different type of slideshow viewer to display your pictures, and for some, is quite brothering. First off, the pictures don’t fill the entire screen. Even if you are viewing a full screen picture on a widescreen monitor, there are black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Second, the slideshow always starts off with the “pan and zoom” theme, which becomes quite annoying because if you change the theme, exit the slideshow and run it again, it defaults back to pan and zoom.

After playing around with the Windows Registry, I discovered how to revert back to the old slideshow interface used in previous versions of Windows Live Photo Gallery. The same slideshow interface is also used with the non-Live Photo Gallery’s included with Windows Vista and 7. Reverting back allows better operation of the slideshow interface and gives you a better selection of themes.

Warning: The following involves modifying the Windows registry. Incorrect modifications can prevent Windows from working.

  1. Click Start
  2. In the Start Menu search box, type regedit and hit enter
  3. If the User Account Control dialog appears, click Continue
  4. Navigate to the following folder: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Photo Gallery
  5. On the right side, double click on AutoMoviePlayerSlideshow
  6. In the Base section, change the setting from Hexadecimal to Decimal
  7. Change the Value Data from 1 to 0
  8. Click OK and close the Registry Editor

Open Windows Live Photo Gallery and run a slideshow. The slideshow interface should now be similar to previous versions of Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Photo Gallery.

To undo the changes and switch back to Photo Gallery’s 2011 slideshow viewer, repeat the previous steps, but change the Value Data from 0 back to 1.

An issue while applying a saved theme in the display properties on a Windows XP system may cause the menu items on the menu bar to turn white or display a white border while or after the cursor passes over. This applies only to the Windows XP and Media Center appearance themes.

Comparison of the normal menu bar and the menu bar with the white boxes.

I accidently found a fix for this problem while playing around with the display properties.

  1. Open the display properties. Select and apply your theme.
  2. Click on the appearance tab and change the “windows and buttons” drop down menu to “Windows Classic style.” Click apply.
  3. After the settings take place, change the style back to Windows XP (or Media Center), select your preferred color scheme and click OK. The white boxes behind the menu items will be gone.