Microsoft Fix it got a boost this week with the introduction of an update designed to make it easier for users to find fixes to their issues with Microsoft software.

Fix it is the Redmond company’s online hub offering a comprehensive collection of automated solutions for problems impacting products such as Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Xbox and Zune, Office, Windows Server etc.

Microsoft Fix it has been steadily growing both in terms of usage (the fixes were used an impressive over 156 million times) and as far as the number of fixes is concerned (in excess of 500), an aspect indicative of the initiative’s success.

The software giant has also put in effort to tailor the Fix it Solution Center to users in no less than 35 countries worldwide, providing help in their native language. More »

Occasionally, you might discover a client that isn’t automatically installing updates correctly. Such clients are typically identified during software update audits. To identify the source of the problem, follow these steps:

1. Determine the last time the client was updated. This can be done in two different ways—by checking the client’s registry (the most reliable technique) or, if you use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), by checking the Reports page on the WSUS Web site.

* To check the client’s registry, open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\Auto Update\Results registry key. In each of the Detect, Download, and Install subkeys, examine the LastSuccessTime entry to determine when updates were last detected, downloaded, and installed. More »

Although Microsoft doesn’t normally deliver support for pre-release software, there are exceptions to this rule, and an update designed to resolve issues related to Taskbar functionality in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 is an illustrative example in this regard.

The Redmond company also offers support for pre-RTM products when it comes down to patching Critical security vulnerabilities that would put users at risk from attacks and exploits.

However, the update released in the second half of August 2010 is not intended to patch a security flaw.

Instead “this update addresses an issue in which the thumbnail controls for some applications are not displayed on the taskbar. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system,” Microsoft stated.

According to the little information provided by the software giant, the refresh is capable of enabling “the thumbnail controls of certain applications to be displayed correctly on the taskbar in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2.”

And although the company doesn’t mention Windows 7 SP1 Beta and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta in the Knowledge Base article, the releases on the Microsoft Download Center reveal that early adopters running the public Beta of the first upgrade for the two platforms should also deploy the update.

Windows 7 SP1 Beta was released to testers in the first half of July 2010, and continues to be available for download to the public.

As it released Windows 7 SP1 Beta, Microsoft made it clear that it planned to wrap up and deliver the RTM bits of the service pack in the first half of 2011, most probably in the first quarter of next year, rather than by the end of 2010, as previously speculated.

Following the release of Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800, work on the upgrade continued, with Microsoft having reportedly released a new interim version of the service pack to TAP and OEMs.

The software giant confirmed that Windows 7 SP1 Beta Refresh Build 7601.17077 indeed shipped to a select pool of testers.

Windows 7 Service Pack (SP1) Beta Build 7601.16562.100603-1800 is available for download here.

Here are the download links for KB2259539:

All supported x86-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows 7

All supported x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

All supported IA-64-based versions of Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows 7 brings to the table a new feature designed to enhance user experiences for the integration of third-party devices with the operating system. Device Stage is set up to make it as easy as possible for Windows 7 customers to deal with printers, cameras, phones, music players and other devices and gadgets right from the platform, as a central hub for all the hardware connected to a machine. A new resource developed by the Redmond company and offered as a free download makes it as easy as possible for Microsoft partners to build advanced Device Stage experiences for their products.

“We’re excited to announce that the Device Stage Visual Editor Tool is now available for our partners. This new new tool and accompanying user’s guide make it extremely easy for our partners (device manufacturers) to develop and build custom Device Stage metadata packages for their products that include realistic device icons, eye-catching branding, and tasks tailored to the needs of their customers,” noted Brandon LeBlanc, Windows Communications Manager on the Windows Client Communications Team. More »

Customers that are using Linux and Windows Server in the same environment can also turn to a free resource from Microsoft designed to enhance the performance of the open source operating system when used together with the Redmond company’s hypervisor role. Best Practices for Running Linux on Hyper-V is a whitepaper offered free through the Microsoft Download Center, set up to highlight virtualization benefits associated with Linux on Hyper-V. At the same time, customers with heterogeneous environments can leverage the best practices described in the whitepaper in order to boost the performance of Linux when used as a guest operating system on a Hyper-V host.

“Most data centers use a variety of applications and operating systems. If you use both Linux and Windows operating systems, you can use Hyper-V to take advantage of the benefits of virtualization across your data center,” an excerpt from the whitepaper reads. “Hyper-V, the Microsoft hypervisor-based server virtualization platform, provides virtualization capabilities through the Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system infrastructure. Hyper-V lets you efficiently run multiple operating systems in parallel on a single server and fully capitalize on the power of x64 computing.” More »