When Viruses Seem More Reliable than Windows

While researching a Windows update for potential problems, I stumbled upon a forum post that I was unusually amused by. This wasn’t a typical case of internet savagery or the ravings of an inebriated internet troll. This was the kind of prose that belies deeper misunderstandings than what is first seen.

The backstory: A forum user posts a quick question asking how he can fix a certain update’s inability to install. Not an uncommon issue. Many Windows updates hang on installation and need some cajoling. Another forum user offers a quick link to a possible workaround. And then the fun begins. A third user kicks the door down, stomps into the thread and sets his coffee cup on the CAPS LOCK key. What follows is some notable misunderstandings of the basic capacities of operating systems and computer science in general. I’ll let you discover the post in its full glory if you so choose, but here are a few of the highlights.

As usual Microsoft has DONE nothng to provide a CANNOT FAIL fix for this error. […] When is MS going wise up and start writing ALL update in NO FAIL MACHINE CODE. If a Virus can overrule Microsoft then Microsoft can surly write an UPDATE THAT CANNOT BE STOPPED OR FAIL the same way viruses are written. […]

Certainly, Microsoft has some issues with their update system and smoothly recovering from failed updates is a bit of a pain, especially for someone who is just a casual computer user. Furthermore, I do not mean to completely marginalize the frustration that anyone, particularly this user, has felt concerning a Microsoft product. However, what strikes me is the misunderstanding that 1) Viruses cannot fail to install (and are more reliable than a major operating system) and 2) That it’s possible to make a “no fail system” of any kind, especially for one of the largest collections of code on the planet.

Perhaps it’s just a failure of the computer industry to communicate how things really are. Perhaps it’s the problem of so much emphasis being placed on user friendliness that when something inevitably goes awry, people are shocked at the complexity involved to recover from the error. Or perhaps it’s truly an oversight on the part of the vendor who hasn’t performed the necessary actions to make their software stretch the possibilities and make the difficult seem easy.

Before I veer off into too much speculation and philosophizing, let’s make a simple goal for ourselves as technology workers: Educate someone near you in the topic of computers. They don’t have to be taught subnetting, object oriented programming or ITIL. Just let them know a bit more about computers and their operation. Teach them safe browsing. Talk to them about complexities using basic analogies. Show them how to not be intimidated by their PC, but make them understand its limitations. Leave them better than when you found them.

Together we can lessen the abuse of caps lock on the internet and, more importantly, lessen someone’s frustration with the ubiquitous personal computer.


  1. ufo50

    August 25, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Microsoft actually has officially addressed this issue, You may become unable to install updates from Windows Update, due to inconsistencies in file data or registry data. By installing the System Update Readiness Tool, you can resolve these inconsistencies and you will be able to install updates from Windows Update. After the System Update Readiness Tool is installed, install updates again from Windows Update.
    here is the Link.
    Have A great Day Peoples!


    • Wesley David

      August 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      I’ve just been reading about the System Update Readiness Tool in the last few weeks. Never dealt with it before. It appears to be something that is offered only if a user has problems with Windows Updates… ?

      Then again, I’ve had more than my share of Windows Update problems and still never seen or used it. *sigh* Yet another poorly understood Microsoft tool. =)


      • ufo50

        August 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

        The Microsoft Readiness Tool will work in 99 percent of the cases. There is no real support for XP though :-(

        But I repair systems all the time, victims of Spy-Ware that break up dates. That’s usually the case, the actual reason the Updates no longer function. But the Windows Update readiness Tool is about the best fix out there to date for Vista, 2008, and Windows 7. Have a good one – Robert Wright


  2. Adam

    August 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    There actually is such a thing as NO FAIL MACHINE CODE, the only problem is that it costs a few trillion dollars per developer.

    It reminds me of people who say “they have the ability to make a [car,TV,iPod] that lasts forever, it’s just planned obsolescence!” True, they probably can, but at what cost? And would anyone really want an iPod that lasts forever? I’m pretty sure I’ll want to upgrade to the 200 GB model at some point, and so will enough people that I won’t be able to sell my indestructible iPod for much. Certainly not enough to cover the extra cost of making it.


    • Wesley David

      August 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      It’s the “they put men on the moon” argument. Sure, we put men on the moon and pushed ahead human technology by leaps and bounds doing it, but at an enormous national cost and risk to lives. To get a virtually foolproof system in any industry is possible, but not worth it in the long run.

      Having said that, there do seem to be some vendors who are more okay with their products’ short life spans than others. =)


  3. Packrat

    August 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Tried that once. Found that a bigger baseball bat was required for some people.


    • Wesley David

      August 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm


      That’s not a bat. That’s a LART. Big difference. =)


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