When it comes down to bulletproofing systems, users should always opt for the latest releases of the Windows client. Volume eight of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv8) makes this perfectly clear, per the Operating System Trends analysis performed by Microsoft with data gathered from in excess of 500 million computers worldwide. Windows 7 RTM and Vista SP2 are the apex of security for the Redmond company as far as Windows clients are concerned.

Infection rates for both Windows 7 RTM and Vista SP2 are considerably lower than their predecessors, with the 64-bit (x64) flavors of the two platforms superior to the 32-bit (x86) versions. The statistics offered in SIRv8 reflect data collected from over half a billion Windows computers worldwide in the second half of 2009. Since Windows 7 was released on October 22nd, 2009, SIRv8 also includes information on Vista’s successor.

“Windows 7, which was released in 2H09, and Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 have the lowest infection rate of any platform on the chart. The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista SP2 had lower infection rates (1.4 for both) than any other operating system configuration in 2H09, and the 32-bit versions both had infection rates that were less than half of Windows XP with its most up-to-date service pack, SP3,” Microsoft reveals in the report. More »

An online resource from Microsoft is designed to diagnose and repair Windows operating systems, including Windows Vista SP2 and Windows XP SP3. The Microsoft Automated Troubleshooting Services are set up to perform what the Redmond company refers to as common system maintenance tasks. Specifically, the Automated Troubleshooting Services will not only detect a range of maintenance problems, including broken desktop shortcuts, unused icons, disk volume errors, and incorrect system time display, but will also correct them automatically, requiring very little effort on behalf of the end users, beyond running the solution.

Microsoft enumerated some of the issues that the services deal with, including: “problems with desktop shortcuts and icons (shortcuts on the desktop don’t work or are broken; desktop icons are broken or have not been used in 3 months; startup items don’t work or are broken); System maintenance tasks (free up disk space by repairing disk volume errors such as bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files and directory errors; free up disk space by removing error reports and troubleshooting history older than 1 month; set the correct system time and synchronize system clock with the time server) and the following errors: Windows update error 0x80072F8F and the item that this shortcut refers to has been deleted.” More »

Customers that have upgraded their Windows Vista Service Pack 1 computers to Service Pack 2 only to subsequently be plagued by frequent crashes can access a solution from Microsoft. The Redmond company notes that it is well aware of the issue. According to the software giant, some customers that made the jump from Vista SP1 to Vista SP2 have experienced repetitive crashes and have also come across the following stop error message “Stop 0x000000FE BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER”. Microsoft also mentions that the same problems affect customers that upgraded from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 SP2.

“After you upgrade from Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) to Windows Vista SP2 or from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 SP2, your computer crashes frequently and you receive the following stop error message: Stop 0x000000FE (parameter1, parameter2, parameter3, parameter4) BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER,” the company stated.

While an update is not available from Microsoft, nor likely, except with the release of Vista SP3, a hotfix can be grabbed from Microsoft Support. The software giant notes that the hotfix is the same as a resolve designed to take care of another problem impacting Vista and Windows Server 2008. However, in the specific case of Vista SP1 to SP2 upgrades, the issue “usually occurs on computers that have NVIDIA chipsets. More »

A DVD5 ISO image file containing all the security bulletins made available on November 10th, 2009 for all supported Windows platforms, is now up for grabs via the Microsoft Download Center. As is the case every month, the Redmond company is accompanying the security patched it offers through Windows Update, Automatic Updates, and Microsoft Update with standalone downloads as well as with a package of updates. In this regard, the November 2009 Security Release ISO Image has become available for download earlier this week.

There are no less than six security updates packaged into the ISO image, four of which are now served through WU, AU, and MU to Windows users around the world. MS09-063, MS09-064, MS09-065, MS09-066 are all designed to patch security vulnerabilities in Windows server and client platforms, including versions such as Windows Vista SP2 and Windows XP SP3.

“This DVD5 ISO image file contains the security updates for Windows released on Windows Update on November 10th, 2009. The image does not contain security updates for other Microsoft products. This DVD5 ISO image is intended for administrators that need to download multiple individual language versions of each security update and that do not use an automated solution such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). You can use this ISO image to download multiple updates in all languages at the same time,” Microsoft explained. More »

Even before the release of Windows 7 Release Candidate Build 7100 Microsoft announced that it would take extreme measures in order to increase end user protection and amputate the AutoPlay/AutoRun feature of the operating system. Over a months after Windows 7 has been released to manufacturing, Microsoft is applying the same security strategy to previous Windows releases. The Redmond company is making sure that the amputated AutoPlay/AutoRun in Windows 7 will make its way to Windows XP (including SP3), Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista (including SP2), and Windows Server 2008, for security reasons.

In this regard, Microsoft has already made available an update designed to limit the AutoPlay/AutoRun functionality in Windows 7’s precursors. Essentially, following the implementation of the refresh, the AutoPlay/AutoRun will no longer display the “Install or run program” option for USB drives.

“In Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003, AutoRun entries were populated for all devices that had mass storage and had a validly formatted AutoRun.inf file in the root directory. This included CDs, DVDs, USB thumb drives, external hard disks, and any volume that exposed itself as mass storage. This update disables AutoRun entries in AutoPlay, and displays only entries that are populated from CD and DVD drives. More »