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Problems With Latest Windows Patches

A number of Security Fix readers have written in to report problems with their computers after installing the latest round of security updates from Microsoft, which are apparently preventing some users from running certain programs or accessing files on their systems.

Some readers shared their experiences in the comments section of the blog post I put up last week on April's batch of Windows patches. A reader from Forrestville, Md., wrote in this morning to say that each time he right-clicks on the Windows desktop, the computer freezes up. Robert Blackmon, an attorney and poker buddy of mine who lives in Arlington, sent an e-mail today reporting that his home computer and at least one of his work PCs no longer allows him to use the drop-down tool to change the Windows Explorer address, and that both were having trouble opening or saving files in Microsoft Office. Blackmon said he had to perform a system restore on his Windows PC at home to get it back to normal again.

According to an advisory released by Microsoft, the chief culprit appears to be a patch to fix a critical security hole in Windows Explorer. Microsoft says for the most part the glitches result from problems with some Hewlett-Packard software products, including any HP DeskJet printer that includes a card reader, HP scanners, some HP CD-DVD players/burners, and HP cameras.

No doubt Microsoft will issue an update at some point to correct this problem, but for now the company advises users to make certain changes in the Windows registry, which acts as sort of the table of contents for the Windows operating system.

The trouble with this solution is that mucking around with the registry can be a dangerous proposition, because an errant change can prevent a system from even booting correctly (Microsoft's advisory says nothing about these dangers). If you've never modified your Windows registry before and you're experiencing the kinds of problems these readers are having, I would strongly advise you to read (and even print out) Microsoft's instructions on backing up, editing and restoring system registry settings. Actually, this is good advice for all Windows users. In particular, you might consider printing the instructions on how to recover from a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting.

The Windows Explorer patch also can cause an annoying problem for users of Kerio Personal Firewall, which contains a feature that flags applications that try to launch other programs without the user's consent. Microsoft's patch uses a new program to try and validate file extensions before they are launched by Windows Explorer, which means that Kerio users will be prompted to approve just about any program they try to start in Windows.

If you use Kerio and have this problem, the next time Kerio pops up an alert about "VERCLSID.EXE" (the validation program installed by the patch) check "allow" and then check the box in the pop-up that allows Kerio to remember your answer next time.

By Brian Krebs  |  April 17, 2006; 2:33 PM ET
 
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Comments


Re the startup of of XP if the Registry is corrupted: Microsofts Instructions provide this warning which eliminates most of the known world:

Warning Do not use the procedure that is described in this article if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system. The system hive on OEM installations creates passwords and user accounts that did not exist previously. If you use the procedure that is described in this article, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives.

Posted by: Joe | April 17, 2006 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I submitted a complaint to Microsoft about the updates, including a statement that I was not about to go mucking in my registry since I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about such things (I had seen that fix in their Windows Update Newsgroup). The technician that responded sent me a zip file with easy to follow instructions, which took less than a minute to implement, just a few clicks and following a wizard. Apparently, whatever was in that zip file went and made the registry changes. I had seen references to the zip file on the MS newsgroups, but did not realize how easy it would be to use until I got the instructions from MS. I would recommend the zip file approach over messing in the registry, unless someone really knows what they are doing. I don't understand why they haven't yet included this in a revised "patch," but maybe MS needs time to test it. In the meantime, I don't know why they aren't making the availability of this zip file more widely known (obviously even you did not know about it as of press time for today's paper). This has apparently affected thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of XP users.

Posted by: David H. | April 17, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Since I installed the April MS patches I cannot open messages in Outlook Express. OE works and downloads the messages to the inbox, but then I cannot open them. Nor can I open the messages in my folders.

I called MS today and they said they have heard of the problem and will call me back within 3 days with a fix.

Posted by: nmb | April 17, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Since the April patch I am unable to insert pictures or files into any of my MS Office applications, I am unable to open files in any of them using the menu bars, and I cannot save or insert e-mail attachments in MS Outlook.

Posted by: FMJohnson | April 17, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I, too, am having some problems with my MS Office XP programs and files. I tried a system restore and, unfortunately, it could not make any changes to my computer. If I can find the zip file David H. refers to, I may try it. And, yes, I have a HP desktop computer.

Posted by: Janice | April 17, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if it is directly related but I now have three computers that over the last couple of days refused to boot after an MS update. Safe mode works but I am unable to get XP Pro to start normally. I don't have any HP product on my computer nor does the others that have had this problem. At the moment I have two computers that won't work and another that prompted to be activated even though it had been activated successfully weeks earlier.

Posted by: DamianW | April 17, 2006 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I would be happy to make available the zip file I got from the Microsoft technician in response to my submission to MS tech support. However, I do not feel I can post my e-mail address, for fear of being inundated with, literally, thousands of requests. I am not sure if the MS technician would mind if I post his e-mail address, although I suppose I could ask him.
Brian, do you have any suggestions on how to make this happen? Surely you must have some direct contacts at MS whom you could ask about this zip file and how to make it more widely available. What I really want to know is why MS doesn't already have a place on their web site for people to download it. I do not think a consumer like me, the media, or even individual MS technicians, should be the only source of this fix. MS as a corporation created this problem, and they should make it easy for people to fix it. Microsoft's official "technical bulletin" on the update problems invites people to go directly into their registry to make changes, which I think is just plain irresponsible of them.

Posted by: David H. | April 17, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Since I installed the april update windows restarts every time I run it - I get 90 seconds of use, then a restart. Ebaying my windows box and buying a macbook pro - 3rd time I've been burnt by a windows update since July 2005 - no more.

Posted by: Michael Daitzman | April 18, 2006 12:55 AM | Report abuse

David,

Let me ask the Msft folks to see if there is a reason they could not post a link to this registry edit program.

Posted by: Bk | April 18, 2006 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, some PC manufactures don't actually ship Windows but instead ship their adulterated version of Windows and you cannot get rid of the adulterations by re-installing from the recovery disc because they are adulterated. From my experience HP are not too good at customising and I have had problems whereby I could not update drivers because of such unnecessary modifications. So it does not surprise me there are problems but who is at fault is another issue.
It should not happen with good system design but poor design is all too common.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2006 5:39 AM | Report abuse

I had seen references to the zip file on the MS newsgroups, but did not realize how easy it would be to use until I got the instructions from MS. I would recommend the zip file approach over messing in the registry, unless someone really knows what they are doing. I don't understand why they haven't yet included this in a revised "patch," but maybe MS needs time to test it. In the meantime, I don't know why they aren't making the availability of this zip file more widely known (obviously even you did not know about it as of press time for today's paper). This has apparently affected thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of XP users.

Posted by: sky | April 18, 2006 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Since I installed the April MS patches I cannot open messages in Outlook Express. OE works and downloads the messages to the inbox, but then I cannot open them. Nor can I open the messages in my folders.

Posted by: Rizvi | April 18, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

We have had some serious problems with the "new" HP drivers that come automatically when we update WinXP on our lone Windows box (as a research lab, all our other computers are Linux).

In the end, the only thing that worked was to reinstall the original HP driver from a CD - otherwise we get shrunk pages, empty pages, and gobbledy-gook. The problem still persists after two "updates" - so now we specifically look for printer updates and UNSELECT them.

It's things like this that moved us off of Windows in the first place.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 18, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

After I installed the 908531 patch, Explorer froze when I tried to save Office documents using a link to the destination files on my desktop. I had to delete the patch. I have a Dell laptop so I have an "OEM-installed" copy of XP. I'm going to wait for a revised patch rather than try to tinker with the registry. (I did that once and it was a nerve-wracking experience.)

Posted by: Phil in Lakewood | April 18, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

After reading the numerous comments, especially relating to Outlook and Outlook Express, I can only suggest that these users migrate to something less sensitive to our attempts at Microsoft to make the perfect operating system. These folks should look at the Mozilla family of programs, specifically Thunderbird as an Outlook replacement and FireFox as an Internet Explorer replacment. I'm sure this will solve many of our issues. To the geeks, just go to Linux and all your problems will be solved.
Bill

Posted by: Bill Gates | April 18, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Once again, a Microsoft Patch is more of a problem, than a solution.

And you wonder why some people are reluctant to keep their computers updated...

Posted by: John Johnson | April 18, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I use firefox for everything, except to access my Outlook web Access program and ever since I installed the updates, when I try to open a new message or respond to a message, I can't just start writing, it tells me I have to use enter or spacebar to access the space - neither of which work. I have to click on it and if the original email had an image in it, the cursor automatically goes to that point - not a huge issue but a major inconvenience when you are sending many emails each day. I use an HP machine - I wonder if that is part of the problem and if this zip file will help me.

Posted by: Sailor | April 18, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Since the updates Java scripting in IE has stopped working on both my computers, a laptop and desktop.

Posted by: J H | April 18, 2006 7:43 PM | Report abuse

It's not a huge issue, but since the patch I've noticed that Flash files are acting differently. Now it seems that when I go to click on something in a flash movie in Internet Explorer, the first click selects the overall movie, and then I have to click again to interact with the items in the flash movie.

Posted by: Mike S | April 19, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I had trouble with the system hanging when i used the "Save As" option in any MS Office program. I didn't realize that it was related to the security patch!

However, digging around in user newsgroups at Microsoft.com did yield this solution:

A user offered this solution:

*We had similar problems in our organization and found a Registry Key that
fixed it.
You can try the same thing - can't hurt - Windows 2000 and XP
Save the following text using Notepad with the name fix.reg

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\SCAPI]
"Flags"=dword:00100c02

Double-click the file to update the Registry then test to see if it worked.
*************************************

I did this and it worked perfectly well. You have to reboot before the changes take effect.

I found the article at:

http://www.microsoft.com/office/community/en-us/default.mspx?dg=microsoft.public.office.misc&tid=36f4756f-83f5-414a-8ab4-14e3bfa9500e&cat=en-us-office&lang=en&cr=US&sloc=en-us&m=1&p=1

Posted by: Celia B | April 19, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Since I deleted the offending update, KB911567, my Outlook Express works fine. Of course, it lacks the security update that Microsoft says is "critical."

Perhaps they will offer a revised version soon.

Posted by: nmb | April 20, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Since loading that latest Window Security updates, I have not been able to have Internet explorer autofill http:// in the IE address bar. I also been have trouble doing a save as in Microsoft Office products (software hangs with hour glass). When I remove the windows security updates the problem goes away but some how the updates keep loading themselves automatically.

Posted by: Wheeler | April 24, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

will the real bill please stand up!;-)hey its pretty simple.update.update.update.i do it weekly.and reinstall outlook express or ie6 if you have problems.you can do it after updates again if corrupt.dont have to reinstall whole system.keep several browsers and users helps alot!!!microsoft is doin a hell of a greatt job lately with all the updates,thanks gyes at microsoft...theres hope for ya yet!;-)

Posted by: akacheshire | April 25, 2006 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I was attempting to restart my windows xp media ctr and got stuck in an endless loop of rebooting, getting to the windows splash screen and then rebooting again. attempts to start in safe mode failed, last known good configuration failed and after a lengthy conversation with HP about the issue and them walking me through the recovery console in a supposed non-destructive retore, i have now lost all my data and have a "clean" factory install. thanks microsoft - all that important data was just taking up room anyway. boneheads. - this just reinforces my dislike of all things M$.

Posted by: ArthurDent | April 26, 2006 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I came home to see that my computer running XP Pro had done a rebot after applying a windows update. Now my computer is stuck on the "loading your personal settings" screen. The solution is to roll back my settings to Monday before the patch, then turn off automatic updates

Posted by: Christopher | April 27, 2006 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Alpha ZIP is the latest in ZIP file technology, bringing ease of use, integration with Windows and comprehensive new features together into one powerful and intuitive application. Alpha ZIP offers you the easiest way of working with compressed formats -whether you want to open ZIP files or extract compressed folders, this compression tool has exactly what you're looking for.

http://www.yaodownload.com/utilites/file-compression/alphazip/

Posted by: alan | May 8, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I know a lot of people having problems with outlook express. I started getting duplicate emails; lost emails, sometimes outlook wouldn't even open, but I think I got a solution. My friend had the same problems but fixed them with something called scan DBX. I tried it and it pretty much brought my outlook back to life. Take a look at http://www.scandbx.com/ , its so simple, it even gave me real descriptions of the error messages - it told me what the error actually was, how to fix it, and even fixed it itself. Looks like its still on promotion too for like half off, its 38 bucks and so worth it. Try it out, for my friend and I it was definitely worth it.

Posted by: Picadily | September 12, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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