Friday, December 20, 2013

Read Only Friday - Windows XP, Windows Update, a fatal combination?

Working Slower?

For those using Windows XP, and attempting to follow earlier guidance and best practices by running Windows Update - life has been moving veeerrryyy slooowwwwwly since September.

Patch updates from Microsoft have caused certain machines running IE 6, 7 and 8 to become slow and unresponsive. Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and has tried twice to resolve it in subsequent Patch Tuesday releases. The Windows Update system consumes a high percentage of CPU in the SVCHOST process (which slows down everything else on the computer).

Windows XP will be retired in April, after it's lifetime was extended due to a Microsoft customer revolt against Windows Vista.

Microsoft is trying again to resolve the issue, according to this article in Windows IT Pro.

As a supporter of non-profit Windows users, this is an unfortunate turn of events. The computers behave so badly that I have reformatted one entirely (in an attempt to clear out any potential Malware) but the only resolution is to turn off Windows Update for the time being.

What can be done?

Normally I am a proponent of patch updates. But if you have to turn off updates just to use your machine... This may be a good use case for application whitelisting. Solutions like Faronics DeepFreeze can be helpful (DeepFreeze will wipe away any changes to a system, including Malware). Be aware that preserving older software in a working state also preserves vulnerabilities that have since been patched. This could turn your computing experience into a game of whack a mole...

Recent research indicates that Malware authors tend to hit older vulnerabilities more frequently than newer ones, so I will still be trying to patch these systems once a month from the web.

See an earlier article on patch management issues here:
http://www.tinkersfolly.net/2013/11/patch-management-our-silent-achilles.html

Update (2/3/2014)

Since December I have been exploring how to run these systems in a stable way. I found that for video playback, SUSE Linux does a great job of playing video files and streaming video. Though I did have to add additional optional codec support, and install Google Chrome to play back Flash videos.

iTunes 11 was slowing down the machines unacceptably, so on the second laptop I installed iTunes 10, and restored an earlier library. I found that iTunes saves a copy of the library file at each upgrade.
Unfortunately iTunes is not available on Linux and Linux based audio players do not seem useful. Though I have not yet experimented with Google's Cloud Payer.


3 comments:

Sangye Ngawang said...

iTunes is both a chore for Apple to maintain for Windows and an opertunity to make it seem that windows is a slow running environment compared to apple. One of the most useful and painful apps around ole itunes. - Sangye

Rich Snow said...

I do think iTunes is coming to the end of its usefulness. If Google Play works out, I might just upload my media files onto their servers.

Rich Snow said...

And here we are - Windows XP has been declared dead... Unless you are in China :-)