[UPDATED 15 Oct 11: SIMPLEST] How to get MS updates with Fx

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[UPDATED 15 Oct 11: SIMPLEST] How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:25 am

UPDATE: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=114&p=31753#p31753
Much shorter and simpler description, and addresses some changes in MS's URLs and format of the Bulletin page.
**********************************

For the non-paranoid, there is not much benefit to this, except that you never, ever have to open IE again. For the paranoid, it keeps MS ActiveX scanning tool out of your machine as you decide what to download, and saves resources and disk space.

Non-paranoid:

1) Set Automatic Updates to "notify me but don't automatically download or install them". (Control Panel > Automatic Updates).

2) When notified of updates, expand the descriptions, decide which ones you want, and jot down or save the "KB" numbers (six digits, currently in the 900,000 range. Should go over a million updates soon!)

3) Cancel the Auto Update dialog box.

4) In Fx, go to http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/A ... earch.aspx. Note that you do *not* have to allow MS JavaScript to do these steps.

5) Fill in the Advanced Search boxes. For example, in my case:

Product Families: Windows XP
Download Categories: Windows Security and Updates
Release Date: Last 30 Days
Sort Results By: Date Released
Results per page: 20 > Go.

YMMV. If you have MS Office, (I don't), you'll probably need to look there etc.

The updates appear earliest to most recent, which is stupid. You can temporarily allow Microsoft.com and then click the sort arrow to get the most recent first.

If you want to force secure download, insert an "s" in the URL after http, then reload the page.

6) Choose the updates that are on your list, then download.

NOTE: The first time you do this, you will be prompted to download and install the "Windows Genuine Advantage Verification Tool". This runs once, and (I imagine) checks the serial # of your copy of Windows to make sure it is licensed. I thought I might have to do this every month, but it seems that having done it once, Windows knows this machine is authorized. I just did a test d/l now and wasn't prompted for the WGAV.

Note that this is *NOT* the same as the "Windows Genuine Advantage NOTIFICATION Tool", a piece of spyware that MS installed on a number of machines using Automatic Update on unaware users (that's one reason I don't use fully-automatic update), which phones home to MS every day, in case the copy of Windows that you had legitimately on Saturday suddenly becomes illegitimate on Sunday. (e. g., they start getting 5000 update requests with that serial number.) If you have this, it can be deleted.

After you have d/l the updates, to your desktop or whatever, just double-click as you would to install any other software. You can then delete the installers or save a backup to CD or Flash drive or something, in case your system ever crashes and you have to reformat. (in fact, that's a pretty good reason to save a copy.)

************************************
Uber-Paranoid:

Disable Automatic Updates completely. This saves you resources and bandwidth, and keeps MS's nose out of your box. :-)

It is so rare for MS to issue a significant patch in between monthly cycles that it makes headlines in the tech world. By definition, most people here probably would read or hear about such out-of-band patches and know that they should get them. Otherwise, every Patch Tuesday, just do steps (4) through (6) above. Sort most recent first, see which ones apply to your setup, and get them.

This also saves hundreds of MB of disk space of log files, etc. saved in C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and other places.
Last edited by Tom T. on Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: edited topic title to call attention to simpler, faster method
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by therube » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:02 am

OK, so no "trickery" here, you are simply manually downloading updates.

I thought you had a method to use (the automated) Windows Update directly from a Mozilla browser (& with no extension trickery either).

PS: If you are bothered by that "Validation" requirement, you can download the "tool" & run it sandboxed. It will still return a valid result (assuming your XP is valid) which you plug in to the web page to allow the download. (And of course, if you had the direct URL to the download, you can bypass "Validation" & the web page itself.)

PPS: MS must have just updated it's WGA again cause they just tried to foist it on me (through Automatic Updates). I graciously declined.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:32 am

No, no trickery. AU uses ActiveX and there is no way around it AFAIK, no matter which browser you use. I just figured that MS has us so brainwashed that many users didn't even know that you could dl them manually and search for them manually, avoiding the MS scan.

Cool tip on running WGAV sandboxed. As mentioned, it hasn't bothered me in ages.

PPS: MS must have just updated it's WGA again cause they just tried to foist it on me (through Automatic Updates). I graciously declined.

Hmm, I tried it just before posting, and to my surprise, wasn't prompted to validate. Are you sure it wasn't the notification tool, which they will foist on you every chance you get, unless you permanently mark it, "Don't ever show this piece of crap to me again, you knuckleheads?"

"
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Alan Baxter » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:51 pm

It was the notification tool that Automatic Updates kindly offered to download and install for me this morning. I graciously declined and selected "please don't bother asking again", again. I already know my installation is properly licensed, and I don't want to be inconvenienced by a possible false positive. It's been quite a while since I've seen that pushed to me.

Gee, have I complained about software reporting false positives before? :) I can tell my AV and anti-malware are working properly when they never report anything.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by therube » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:22 pm

WGA, WGN, whatever, whichever. I don't want it - solely on principle, so I never accept those updates.

Over time, MS has made changes (with WGA/WGN) & when they do, even if you had "permanently" marked it "Don't show again", with the change made, you will once again be offered to download WGA/WGN (as I was just yesterday through Automatic Updates).


EDIT:

"Microsoft to Kill Pirated Windows XP Professional Via WGA update"
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsof ... 7775.shtml

"...Microsoft will start hunting down and “killing” pirated copies of Windows XP Professional, the flavor of the operating system labeled by the company as most popular with pirates. The software giant has cooked and will release an update to Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications designed to sniff out and flag as non-genuine unlicensed or otherwise hacked copies of XP..."
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:33 am

Alan Baxter wrote:It was the notification tool that Automatic Updates kindly offered to download and install for me this morning.

therube wrote:even if you had "permanently" marked it "Don't show again", with the change made, you will once again be offered to download WGA/WGN (as I was just yesterday through Automatic Updates).


I had mentioned in the original post that I had AU permanently disabled, and if anyone wanted to discuss why, it should be a different thread. You guys have just demonstrated why. Thanks. (fscary article, therube)

For all those suckers who have AU "on" ('automatic"), pwned!

I have a box with XP Pro. Wonder if it will demand to install WGAN before I get the April updates. Thank Karma I have a box with XP Home, which they're not targeting. April Patch Tuesday will be interesting -- and a challenge to this dummy to figure out a work-around (aka "hack") to get the updates without WGAN. Thanks again, guys.
Last edited by Tom T. on Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: clarify AU full status
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:13 am

I know this has been a while and by saying this I am automatically accepting the attached insult from this statement:

For all those suckers who have AU "on" ('automatic"), pwned!


But what is the big deal with Automatic Update? You choose what you want and not pick the ones you don't want and hide them and no biggie. Am I missing something here? Why is the user a pawn?

The WGA is only installed once in a blue moon for certain "new" addition software they offer as a service release and you can install those if you really want directly off the website without the WGA.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:05 pm

GµårÐïåñ wrote:I know this has been a while and by saying this I am automatically accepting the attached insult from this statement:

For all those suckers who have AU "on" ('automatic"), pwned!


But what is the big deal with Automatic Update? You choose what you want and not pick the ones you don't want and hide them and no biggie. Am I missing something here? Why is the user a pawn?

The WGA is only installed once in a blue moon for certain "new" addition software they offer as a service release and you can install those if you really want directly off the website without the WGA.

There are three levels of AU enabled:

D/l, but let me choose when (If?) to install
Notify me, but don't d/l or install
Automatic

It's been so long since I used "Automatic" that I don't even remember perfectly, but I suppose my impression was that "Automatic" d/l and installed invisibly (or at least, without any user action) *all* updates that MS, in its infinite wisdom or malice, thought you "should" have, regardless of whether you need them; regardless of whether for your benefit or theirs. E. g., the Notification tool snuck on to a lot of machines that way, including of a friend of mine. It seems "uninstallable" from Add/Remove or other channels, so we just deleted it from system32 and that was the end of that. (didn't bother with the corresponding Reg entries, etc. Problem was solved -- no phoning home every day.) IIRC, you can click the little shield icon and view the process at any time, but I doubt most users do -- that's why they have it on full Automatic: so they don't have to do anything.

IIRC, MS once issued an update that turned AU back to Automatic without user knowledge. They caught a lot of flack for that.

Anyway, that's why the other choices are safer. Best, IMHO, is "Notify". You get to see the list and choose which you want and which you don't. Sorry for the insult - it was intended at MS, not at the user. I. e., MS's behavior makes you a sucker if you trust them with full AutoUpdate, even though most users aren't aware of that fact.

therube wrote:"Microsoft to Kill Pirated Windows XP Professional Via WGA update"
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsof ... 7775.shtml

"...Microsoft will start hunting down and “killing” pirated copies of Windows XP Professional, the flavor of the operating system labeled by the company as most popular with pirates. The software giant has cooked and will release an update to Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications designed to sniff out and flag as non-genuine unlicensed or otherwise hacked copies of XP..."

Just updated my XP Home box without any trouble. Haven't yet dragged the XP Pro out of the closet, but will in the next day or two. Will let you know what happens. If your XP is Pro, let us know what was your experience (pun: supposedly, name XP = eXPerience, according to rumor).
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:28 pm

Well automatic install ONLY invisibly installs CRITICAL security patches ONLY. Nothing that is recommended or optional, you still have to do those yourself. If they did push anything and everything invisibly then yeah I wouldn't like it either but they don't. In fact, WGA installation REQUIRE that you accept the terms before they are done, so no matter how they are installed or pushed, it will always prompt you to accept before it continues, at which time you can simply say nope and be done with that. Agreed though that generally having anything automatically installed is a bad move unless you know what it is, so notify would be the all around best choice. :D
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Good news! No problem with declining WGAN!

Post by Tom T. » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:45 am

therube wrote:WGA, WGN, whatever, whichever. I don't want it - solely on principle, so I never accept those updates.

Over time, MS has made changes (with WGA/WGN) & when they do, even if you had "permanently" marked it "Don't show again", with the change made, you will once again be offered to download WGA/WGN (as I was just yesterday through Automatic Updates).

EDIT:

"Microsoft to Kill Pirated Windows XP Professional Via WGA update"
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsof ... 7775.shtml

"...Microsoft will start hunting down and “killing” pirated copies of Windows XP Professional, the flavor of the operating system labeled by the company as most popular with pirates. The software giant has cooked and will release an update to Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications designed to sniff out and flag as non-genuine unlicensed or otherwise hacked copies of XP..."

I just updated my XP Pro box. The "Notification Tool" was offered, and, of course, declined. After getting the desired updates and rebooting, AU, which was set to notify only, told me "Updates are ready". D'oh, I just got them. I clicked. It was the Notification junk again. Told it "no", then disabled AU again.

The good news is that the needed updates were available without having to accept the WGA Notification tool. If you set AU to "automatic install", sure, you'll get it. Good reason not to set it that way. Cheers.
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Windows Verification Tool

Post by ??? » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:33 am

For people who are still creeped out by the idea of the Verification Tool and what it might do to their computers, here's a way to get the verification info needed to download and to remove residual tool entries from your machine:

Use an installation monitor when running the Verification Tool (Total Uninstall worked well for me).
Copy down and save the number the tool generates for you to plug into the MS website.
Remove the entries the Verification Tool made to your machine using the uninstall function of the program you used to monitor the tool as it ran.
Whenever you need to download and MS tells you you need to use the verification tool, simply plug in the number you copied down et voilà -- download away.

When i did this, after running the tool but before removing the changes it made to my machine, MS repeatedly remembered my machine was ok (as Tom T. noted in the first post for this thread). After removing the changes, MS no longer remembered my machine as ok and popped up the you-need-the-verification-tool message again. i plugged in the number the tool had generated when it ran and was able to download.
_________________________________________________________________
Thanks to everyone who posted here already, the info was definitely helpful!
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:30 pm

That number will no longer work and fail if you make any substantial changes to your machines hardware or configuration. I just wanted to make sure you don't have a false sense of accomplish and get disappointed in the future. The hash is derived from a combination of system, hard drive, and primary device serial numbers, several networking elements and finally the serial information for the product you are using. This will fail simply if you change a hard drive, as benign as that sounds, or change you network card and you now have a new MAC address. Just giving you a heads up.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:11 am

@ ??? and "GµårÐïåñ: I keep a copy of the *verification* tool, "GenuineCheck.exe", whose tooltip or Properties title is "Genuine Windows Validation", on a USB stick. When requested by MS, I just plug in the Flash drive, double-click the above .exe, and get the new validation number. Paste into box > no problem.

All that this tool is doing, AFAIK, is verifying that you have a validly-licensed copy of Windows. Yes, I do get a different number each time, so I'm not aware of any privacy leaks.

There is a confusion, deliberate on MS's part IMHO, with the "Windows Genuine Advantage *Notification*" tool. This creepy thing *will* install if you allow Automatic Updates to run on full automatic, and *will* be offered if you check for updates manually using either the Fx method, or using IE/MS Update's "Custom" method. It phones home *every day* to reassure MS that the validly-licensed copy of Windows that you had yesterday, and the day before yesterday, is still validly licensed today, and will be tomorrow, etc. Terrible waste of your bandwidth, and yes, that's the kind of thing that makes people wonder what other information is being sent. *This* can and should be refused, and is part of the danger of using full Automatic Updates, IMHO. YMMV.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by GµårÐïåñ » Thu Dec 10, 2009 6:09 pm

Tom, there is no privacy leak with the verification tool and what you are doing is an excellent approach. As you can see, the number changes over time, this is due to the hash that is generated using your computer's hardware and software configuration at the time. It leaves nothing behind, it transmits nothing and unless you are using the plugin for Fx or the ActiveX for IE to do this, it won't even leave anything on your machine. Now I just install it and don't care, it is not that much of an intrusion into my daily life to care. When I care that this is a problem, I just install a volume license copy which is almost never validated for the reason that it is often used in corporate environment and they can't expect the end-users to do it every time it pops up. Just saying.
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Re: How to get MS updates with Fx

Post by Tom T. » Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:52 am

GµårÐïåñ, thank you. I was just trying to emphasize that "Validation" and "Notification" are two completely different tools, with different purposes and means. The former is legitimate; the latter is highly questionable and unnecessary. Thanks.
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