Windows optimize

How do I... stop Windows XP from nagging me about updates?

Riggy001 decided not to apply Windows XP SP3, but the operating system continued to nag him about it. After much wrangling, Riggy001 was given a procedure that removed that yellow nagging shield in the system tray.

Microsoft's Patch Tuesdays (the second Tuesday of every month) are an important part of every user's regular Windows operating system maintenance. In fact, regular fixes, patches, and updates should be part of every user's regular routine, no matter which operating system they use.

But sometimes Windows XP gets stuck in update mode. It will continue to show the flashing yellow shield in the System Tray suggesting you need to download and install important security patches. Windows may even display a chat bubble reminding you there is a system patch available. This may appear even after you have already applied all the patches -- Windows just doesn't recognize its current status.

Or, as in the case of TechRepublic member Riggy001, Windows may be telling you that SP3 is available, even though you have decided you don't want to apply it right now or in the near future. This is the dilemma Riggy001 described in a TechRepublic Discussion Thread. To relieve this annoyance, Riggy001 called Microsoft support and finagled a procedure to reset the Windows update management system.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Resetting Windows

  1. Click Start | Control Panel and then double-click Administrative Tools.
  2. Click on Services to open the dialog box (Figure A).

Figure A

Services dialog box

  1. From the list of services, right-click and then click Stop for the following services:

  • Automatic Updates
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  • Cryptographic Services

  1. Next click Start | My Computer.
  2. Double-click the drive where XP is installed, usually C:\.
  3. Double-click Windows.
  4. Right-click on the file folder SoftwareDistribution and rename it SoftwareDistribution.old.
  5. Next double-click on the System32 file folder.
  6. Right-click on the folder Catroot2 and rename it Catroot2.old.
  7. Right-click on the folder SoftwareDistribution and rename it SoftwareDistribution.old.
  8. Close C:\Windows\System32 explorer window.
  9. Now, go back to the Services folder, right-click and then start the following services:

  • Automatic Updates
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (unless it was originally set to manual and you never had to stop the service in the beginning)
  • Cryptographic Services

  1. Close the Services Window and go to the Administrative Tools window (which should still be open).
  2. Click the Back Button on your toolbar to get back to the Control Panel.
  3. Double-click Automatic Updates (Figure B).

Figure B

Automatic Updates

  1. Select "Notify Me but Don't Automatically Download or Install Them" radio button and then click the OK button.
  2. Close the Control Panel and resume computing.

One annoyance gone

This procedure forces Windows to reset the files that track what updates you have installed. This means that the automatic update will stop nagging you to update even though you already have. For Riggy001, this procedure means Windows will stop trying to download and install SP3.

One word of warning though, in general Windows updates are important not only for your security and peace of mind but also for the security of everyone else. I highly recommend that you apply the patches as soon as you can. Our Windows Patch Tuesday feature will keep you informed of just what each patch contains.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

61 comments
maddisu
maddisu

It doesn't work. I followed the instruction very well and windows stopped nagging me for a while but after a day or two, it came back again! I had to literally uncheck and close every single patch my windows didn't have when I was prompted to download.

jos
jos

As long as Microsoft is not smart enough to make an OS with the button: "don't disturb, I am working." why not stop Windows? (Linux never disturbed me.)

hbartlett
hbartlett

Automatic Updates Turned Off I was told by an IT professional to turn off automatic updates because it slows down the network and ties up resources on the clients. In doing so, it speeds up the client's performance. However, when automatic updates are turned off then the clients don't get updated unless we manually do them. If the updates do not get applied then the windows defender will not work. If windows defender is not working, spyware attacks the computers. Any advice?

richstephens_57
richstephens_57

THE EASYEST WAY TO STOP THE UP DATES IS TO GO START, RUN, TYPE IN MSCONFIG, THERE YOU WILL SEE THE TABS CLICK ON THE SERVICE TAB GO TO AUTOMATIC UPDATES UNCHECK IT AND UNCHECK THE SECURITY CENTER. CLICK APPLY AND RESTART.. THAT IS THE FASTEST AND EASYEST WAY.. (WARNING) DO NOT UNCHECK ANYTHING ELSE IN THERE IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING...

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

What a long around the problem. Its simpler to select the "download the updates for me, but let me decide when to install them" option under Widows Updates in the Security Center. When the updates are downloaded and you are asked to install them simply untick all those updates that you dont want and click install. You are then given the option of being reminded about those updates that you have just unticked - tick the box in this dialog and you will neber be reminded about them again. btw the update shield in your icon tray will disappear.

wca-27
wca-27

Hi...This is wonderful information regarding SP3, but could someone tell me how do I eliminate Outlook Express from constantly asking me to compact message files? Sometimes I will get as many as 20 requests or so in a row! Most of the time the requester pops up about every 90 seconds, but then sometimes the interval is much greater. It is really frustratine! Thanks...Bill Allen

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Unsure [as I didn't read the posts] but did anyone suggest the service pack blocker? still good for 6+ months. Another option is to disable automatic updates and install them on your own. Now, MS is expected to support XP until 2014 with hot fixes. Between now and then, no further service pack is expected. At last check, there is something like 120MB of updates since SP2 [and growing]. SP2 will also not be supported by early 2010. So by 2010, you'll need to decide if you want to go to SP3 or Vista [or "Windows 7"]. If you stick with SP3, you will have to reinstall every update since SP3's release. I have installed SP3 on maybe 2 dozen systems without a glitch. Make sure your system drivers are up to date. Ditto to the BIOS. Do a clean boot before installing SP3.

jan
jan

there is a simplerer way: 1. Stop the Automatic Updates service. To do this, follow these steps: a. Click Start, click Run, type cmd, and then click OK. b. At the command prompt, type the following commands, and then press ENTER after each command: net stop wuauserv regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll net start wuauserv exit

Chipv
Chipv

It is better if You just ignore certain updates, that way you won't be bothered by the ones you don't want, but, will still get notified of new updates/patches especially the security and criticals! Try this.. right click updates icon Tick off Custom Install (advanced)and click Install Uncheck the updates you do not want installed and click close You will be prompted with a "Hide Updates" Window Put a Tick next to Don't notify me about these updates again and click OK You can get the Updates back by clicking the link at the bottom of Automatic updates."offer updates again that i have previously hidden" A restore updates window will pop up. Click on yes to restore hidden updates. Then the next time Automatic Updates checks in, it will offer it again.

mlvc
mlvc

I installed SP3 and it crashed my computer. I uninstalled, reviewed the possible problems associated with the update, and installed again. Same thing happened. I removed the update and will NOT be installing it again.

howardjohn
howardjohn

This is fine.....BUT how do I stop Msoft sending me emails about updates..I have all the ones I need but cannot get unsubscribed !! Thoy

chavarinderion50872
chavarinderion50872

Classic, I did this some years ago. I even removed the NAGGING update feature (all of it) With Windows you have no control. Cheers

MarkRand
MarkRand

I just spent a weekend undoing the consequences of an XP SP3/Net 3.0 "upgrade" to my new Thinkpad T61 which had been running XP SP2 without problems. After the SP3 upgrade, I lost the CD/DVD drive, and MS support, in attempting to remedy the problem, managed to edit the registry so that the computer would not start and the HDD was so corrupted it had to be reformatted. I have now reloaded SP2 and the computer works perfectly. I have turned off the update feature. With repeated statements MS is going to terminate its support of XP (as well as statements that it will not support, except on a fee basis, prior software programs such as MS Office 2002), is there a real necessity to update and risk potential problems that one might suspect are being left unresolved on the theory the user will have to upgrade to Vista anyway? I am beginning to come to the view that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but I am still curious whether there is some real necessity to upgrade. I also read your article on Itunes 8 upgrades, and it too, seems to offer nothing but increased problems.

The DOBC
The DOBC

Let me guess. This guy probably gets paid to work on your systems. So if you get infected with something like Conflicker.c (which can't install if you are updated) he gets to charge you to fix it! Hey I want a contract working for you guys! I have this wonderful bridge for sale...

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

You may be approaching the limits of the Outlook Express files. As a House Call Technician for our computer club, I have seen many installations, where the Deleted items folder had 5,700 items. The Sent items folder had over 6,000. Once these meaningless files were removed, the nagging stopped.

Xwindowsjunkie
Xwindowsjunkie

That has been my experience also. The automated "download only what's needed" live install version is too freaking buggy and unreliable. What's worse is that some of the fixes not covered by the process get offered up as required updates. dotNet 1.1 service pack 1 seems to get clobbered continually by this and also does not get installed properly if dot Net 3.0 or 3.5 is already installed.

2rs
2rs

Boy, do I feel dumb - thanks for pointing out that all I gotta do is read the details in those pesky textboxes.....

RPip
RPip

Thanks for the clear procedure! The key is to uncheck the updates to install and then click 'Close'. If you just cancel, Windows will not realize you're serious about not installing it, and will try again later. As my favorite instructor used to say, "Ask me how I know!"

JCitizen
JCitizen

masses. I'm not a good enough communicator to do this work.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

Not only there a lot of rolled up fixes, but a few functional enhancements.

Xwindowsjunkie
Xwindowsjunkie

To install SP3 the system must be SP1 or better and the WGA crap must be recently updated or SP3 will not install properly. Had this same problem until I found the right sequence. Go to Windows update to run the "priority" or "security" updates only. There will be 2. One is usually the Malware removal and the other is the WGA aggravator. Let them both run to completion and then run the SP3 install. I hate it also but I've found that SP3 does protect against some specific malware issues we've run into at work. Otherwise at home I run Debian Linux.

bls
bls

If I do your process of stopping the nagging. Will my WSUS server still push updates to my clients? Another question in my WSUS all of my clients are at 99% is that because they have not installed the last of their updates?

The DOBC
The DOBC

Why in the H**L did you give them your e-mail address? It isn't required to register, and it only benefits their marketing department. Good luck getting off their list!

mail2
mail2

I had XP Auto Update set to Download but Don't Install. Several weeks ago, I found that SP3 had been downloaded and the gold shield was asking me to pick a time to install it. I searched all over for some way to get rid of the SP3 download with no success including rebooting, going to Windows update, etc. Finally I gave up and elected to proceed with the install. On the first screen that I believe asked me to accept the license terms, there was a clickable sentence saying something to the effect of Don't Remind Me About This Again. I clicked that and SP3 went away and I have not as yet been prompted by an SP3 download. I have been prompted for other Windows Update downloads. I also set Auto Update to notify only so I did not get into the situation again.

asger
asger

I cant see any reason why not just do it! Update... Microsoft has probably good reasons for advising you to update... Asger

msre48
msre48

I have updates turned off at home (I'm not installing anything unless specifically needed..if it ain't broke...). Personally, I don't have the expertise or time to troubleshoot weird problems, and experience tells me that sooner or later, new software introduces new problems. Windows Live Update runs on work computers (IT policy). All but one of our XP systems successfully installed sp3. On the one, a message was generated indicating the updates were not installed successfully, but they were not displayed in the Update History part of the Web site. In researching the problem, I ran across quite a few MS KB's with solutions to sp3 install problems. To solve my problem I had to reregister wups32.dll (per MS KB article 943144).

terry.ashmore
terry.ashmore

I have steadfastly refused to install SP3 as reading between the lines all that MS are wanting is to comletely control your computor. I carried out your instructions to stop the nagging but the sheild was still there as expected,I clicked it and a list of about 15 updates was listed including the dreaded SP3 I removed the tick from the list, pressed OK and immediately the window was cleard except for SP3 that again had the tick in a the box. MS is refuseing to give any more up dates until I accept SP3 this is trying force everyone in to downloading SP3 this should ring warning bells that SP3 is for thhe benefit of MS and not you or I.

TG2
TG2

Lets face it.. if it were just you, and your computer, say the power cord coming into the PC and you were in a void.. you would probably not need to upgrade. In a "void" the only type of upgrades you would need are for classic "bugs" in the software. Bugs being those problems in programming that have had some flaw in logic, or "do these three things at once, and you crash the pc" ... those types of upgrades are fewer and further between. Much of that is because the code gets vetted better today in more situations ... so much so you might make the argument that something like a rev2 should be enough for well designed apps/os's. But its because we don't live in a void, and because we do allow other things to get at our computers, that we have to upgrade code, to protect our machines from things that come into them externally to us or our electrical power. (not that we are really good at being the great protectors either - USB below) Have a USB port? You can become infected, you can have every ounce of memory scanned, potentially revealing passwords which are in memory read and saved on a USB drive just from simply plugging one in.. Have a floppy? the USB dongle is now the floppy of the past.. stick one in, get an infection. Many security assessment companies report in penetration testing they find their easiest access into systems by spreading usb devices around and letting people just "find them" .. curious they put them into their PC's and BOOM ... they've been duped into running an application, because no one likes to really open "my computer" and then right click the funny thumb drive, and then choose open.. no no.. we want that thing to be seen automatically, we want it to have the same rights as a CDRom disk that we stick in.. and it auto launches things of its choosing.. Network the PC? good god man THEN you REALLY don't know how much attack surface you've presented to the would be "cracker" out there to come and take over.. just for the fact that maybe you're more well off, and have that latest quad core super computing box that they could use for their bidding.. Are there ways to mitigate the necessity? perhaps to lessen the risks? Firewalls, Antivirus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-bogeyman programs.. They have their purpose ... they negate some of the issues that seem to need patching weekly ... but unfortunately, putting a band-aide over a 50 foot gaping sink hole in the middle of your PC called RPC which goes as deep as your OS ... well... that's really why we patch ... for its the next big "oops" that potentially gets us.. how safe do you want *your* data to be? You could just use a USB stick yourself, or get one of those boot CD's (there are some for windows as well - BartPE) and use the system in a pseudo void.. but then you're having to do extra work, and most of us hate doing that.. O:-)

sbutler
sbutler

From upgrading 300+ PCs to XP SP3, from various home and business clients (ie. not in a single managed corporate environment) I recommend the following: - Make sure the PC is free of malicous software. - Remove any non-Microsoft anti malicous software applications. - Use MS update to install SP3 or - If you're installing the redist of SP3, go to MS update first and get as far as the download/install prompt for XP3. The point of this is to install the Genuinine Microsoft and any other mandatory patches Basically Microsoft seems to assume your PC is ready to install SP3, where many aren't Getting to this understanding has caused me some frustrations of my own

JCitizen
JCitizen

It was my .Net 2.0 updates that got clobbered for me. I always check the updates manually but I still got hammered all summer long. I suppose that is what I deserve for not trying them in the lab first. Fortunately it's my own LAN and no one else's.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I put up with all of MS's crap but I still like to see people circumvent it, just for the satisfaction of knowing Redmond can't get in everyones shorts!

t.beckner
t.beckner

WSUS has all of the update details for every client machine. You can review those machines to see if they are missing an update using the WSUS reports. And yes it would affect WSUS updates, because WSUS uses the same process which is just redirected to the WSUS server.

Chipv
Chipv

Check my Reply Below. "Better way to stop the nags - Pictorial" I show you how to do it.

mho
mho

You can't see any reason to not just do it? You bet Microsoft has good reasons for advising you to update. Call me paranoid, but I've been in computers since 1973 and have seen it happen time and again. What might those reasons be? How about making sure you HAVE to ditch XP in a year or so and move to Vista. I stopped accepting updates (including SP3) as soon as Microsoft announced that they were 'obsoleting' XP. Since they can't sell much Vista and won't give it away, the last option is to MAKE you use it by engineering XP to go away. Anyone who touts the glory of Vista has never used a fast, efficient desktop OS. Sort of like the 'true Blue' folks during IBM's mainframe stranglehold; if it came from IBM it HAD to be the best! Now, substitute Microsoft for IBM. I now have a dual-boot machine with XP SP2 and Ubuntu Linux, which is now a dream to install and run, unlike other older Linux distros (disastros?). As soon as XP stops working, its goodbye to Windows for me. I can get 3-4 times the bang for my buck running Ubuntu than Vista on my laptop. Next stop after that when my laptop gives up? A Macintosh, which is, after all, what Windows was trying to be.

johns
johns

My system updated to SP3 automatically and now one of my very important, non-Microsoft certified programs simply shuts down with a message about DEP (Data Execution Protection) whenever I try to print something from that software. The program worked perfectly prior to the update and still works on any XP machine that has not been updated to XP3. Removing the offending program is NOT an option.

C.Ann.C
C.Ann.C

mainly because after the download and it started installing, I got an error window saying it couldn't install the update because of not enough allocated space on my system - or maybe it was my hard-drive space. I'm currently using 20gig of hard drive space so I figured the SP3 update wanted more than I had, I then had to cancel the entire download and loading process which had to take quite some time in doing, then restart the computer. I then got another window, after the reboot, from Microsoft saying my system encountered the "blue screen" (which it never did), but to go to the Microsoft website to get info on the fix. I didn't need to do that. All that happened was that the install cancellation reverted my system back to the way it was before the download/loading and the restart must've cleared it up. I then put a comment on Microsoft's website after the fix-info to tell them what happened and that I'd never install the SP3 again on my system. Since then (this was about a month ago), I hadn't seen the SP3 come up yet, but other updates were seen, which I let install. I used this "fix" to stop the auto-updates just in case the SP3 comes up again. Until I can switch my other hard drive (I also have a 40gig drive installed but use it as a file capacity saver, but I want to switch my 20gig drive system for the 40gig for more space - maybe then I can use the SP3 update) I'll have to contend with this "fix" for now. I'm just a little skeptical about switching over to the other drive, hence I'll lose the entire XP system from the 20 to the 40 plus other programs installed. I have to get over my skepticism somehow before I do that.

jilee
jilee

I have recently updated 500 machines, with no glaring side effects. These machines have a wide variety of applications loaded on them. I don't get the issue.

wagriff
wagriff

Switch to Linux! Hell yes !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

This is not an valid or reasonable option for a great many folks. Oh, if one is just a simple home user who does little besides surfing the Net, exchanging chat and emails with friends, etc. Switching to Linux is a possibility. Maybe. However I know a significant number of folks who've tried a number of Linux distributions and who have given up on it out of frustration. Such users being of the type of person who just want to USE their computer and a few apps and who have no interest at all in becoming computer geeks or learning much about an OS ... any OS. In the working world ... a switchover from Windows to Linux can be MUCH more daunting, problematical, and expensive. For instance, where I work we use quite a number of applications ... MUST use them due to the nature of the business we engage in ... for which there are no Linux equivalents. And the developers of the apps have no intention, in the foreseeable future, of developing such. For the apps we use where a Linux equivalent exists, the fact is that for the most part they are no better, and mostly they're not quite as good as, the Windows apps they'd replace (although they do often have the benefit of being either lower in initial purchase price or free). So why the heck would we spend the rather enormous costs in manpower, re-training time, etc it'd take for us to do a company wide switch? Egad, even if we made the switch we'd still have to be purchasing/licensing apps made solely for the Windows platforms and then attempt to run them under Wine or some equivalent. Not to mention that some won't run at all, or reliably and with acceptable speed, under Wine. We know, we have experimented. To top it off, we do business with thousands of customers (businesses) who are using Windows themselves. Exchange documents with them that were created by Windows apps, many of them employing and using macros, scripts, VBA, etc internal to the documents. And, due to the nature of the work we do, a great many of our employees need to work on a daily basis on systems belonging to our customers ... nearly all of which are Windows systems. Installing specialized apps, scripting, writing batch files, doing reconfigs, tweaking network connections, etc. Of the hundreds of projects I've worked on in just the past few years (each project being a different customer organization) I haven't seem more than a handful of non-Windows machines. And those were relegated to specialized usage only, and not the normal platform used by the majority of the customers' employees for daily business. Switching to Linux may sound like a reasonable action and a valid alternative. But as of right NOW ... its not really an option for the majority of folks in the larger business or government communities. Notice, I'm not engaging in any discourse as to which OS is a better one. I don't slam either OS. But I must deal with realities.

bls
bls

We have been running the WSUS for about 2 months and have had no problems with it slowing down the network or client. We download it to a server, test it then push it to the clients. Nothing is directly to the client off the Internet.

JCitizen
JCitizen

wanted to test the updates in the lab. We just pushed them later. Have you been running it automatically? If so does it slow the network/client unit down?

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Fine if you have the systems you mention, but mine are purpose built systems (white boxes - by me)with Intel CPUs.

JCitizen
JCitizen

builds that did the same thing because they had AMD CPUs. Some of them were even marked "patched" on the startup post for the processor! However not everyone had AMD processors and still got hard drive corruption from SP3. A different fix was in order for everyone of them.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

I am a House Call technician for our computer club. I have successfully installed SP3 on at least 50 computers. Yes, I have run into these problems and easily fixed same: 1. If you have an Compaq or HP desktop computer that also has an AMD processor. Turn off Automatic updates. If this is too late, and your computer has gone bananas, restart in Safe mode by repeatedly pressing F8 key on start up. Go to the Control Panel and double-click Add or Remove Programs. Select Service Pack and Remove. The computer will be restored to the prior condition. Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/6m6y9s A former Microsoft Manager offers a free fix for this problem, see: http://tinyurl.com/5vukb7 Please be aware, there is free unlimited installation and compatibility support is available for Windows XP, but only for Service Pack 3 (SP3). This support for SP3 is valid until April 14, 2009. I see no conspiracy here, just a dumb mistake by HP by not placing the correct product on their computers. 2. Symantec user should ?...should switch off the "SymProtect" feature before trying to install XP SP3 http://tinyurl.com/5kqw5w Still no conspiracy, just Symantec!

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

Funny you should mention that word. Recently installed SP3 and their WGA tool - got the watermark on my desktop (I have a valid certificate and cd key) and SP3 shot the hell out of my machine. Removed SP3 (watermark remained) and went to do a restore - guess what - every one of my restore points had been removed. However using repair/chldsk /f fixed that b***dy watermark. (unfortunately I needed SP3 for a particluar fix, so i'm ledt with the frequent BSODs.) Next new machine will definitely have Linux (probably Ubuntu) on it

JCitizen
JCitizen

suspected of at least sloppy updates just to get people to want to give up and buy Vista. I've suspected this for a while, but probably closer to the truth, Redmond execs probaby saw the consumer complaints as a godsend to motivate XP users to the new machines. I will have to get Vista eventually, I haven't an option, but I am also personally migrating to FOSS solutions, and hope I can wean my clients off of MS forever.

shadows14
shadows14

If you choose your updates when installing manually a check box appears asking something like "Do not remind me of unwanted updates" check the box, no problems.

TG2
TG2

You need to add the application to the DEP list/remove from there etc.. Right click "My Computer" Left Click Properties Go to Advanced -> Performance -> Data Execution Prevention Turn on DEP for all EXCEPT .... and add the program to the exception. It could also be something with the printer driver/spooler if it only happens from print jobs. also you can look to see if that application has any updates, or support for this issue.

JCitizen
JCitizen

but please use paragraphs once and a while; some of us are getting to be old farts that can't see well enough to read as well as we would like! =)

sbutler
sbutler

I was all full of flame at first, but I did put a bit of effort into writing a NICE reply to the guy. But... "in attempting to remedy the problem, managed to edit the registry so that the computer would not start and the HDD was so corrupted it had to be reformatted." ... as Jamie (from Mythbusters) would say "thar's your problem"... I'd go as fast as to say theres a couple of oximorons in his statement (will some extra moron perhaps?)

mirossmac2
mirossmac2

I have copied your reply and will send it verbatim to my geek son-in-law, who is nagware in human form on the subject of Linux and what he calls Windoze.

AnswerMan
AnswerMan

Well then ... perhaps it's time for us to sue Microsoft for unfair business practices, creating a monopoly, driving out competition, and replacing it with inferior products? Oh wait... they've already tried that. All it did was make a bunch of attorney's on both sides..... RICH beyond wildest dreams. It did nothing to curtail their business practices. They tried to threaten to cut support for XP... it didn't work. So then SP3 was introduced.... and (imagine that) people are now having problems with stuff that was NEVER a problem up through SP2??? Business as usual at Redmond ... Gates or no Gates... doesn't seem to matter. Draw your own conclusions.

Meesha
Meesha

You just made the case for heterogeneous environments over proprietary ones such as Windows. The nature of your needs and issues are exactly why one vendor does not adhere to standards. And this is done so they can captivate and hold hostage a good segment of the market as they provide their stakeholders a sizeable chunk of the $$$$ pie. For many years we've all been striving to remove the single source vendor need but an organization such as Microsoft has ensured that this would be a monumental task for a good portion of businesses, yours is the case in point. We've converted to Linux/Unix and where we "must" have a MS based product we virtualize in the short term while developing the alternative for the long term. The costs savings from MS licensing alone pays for our strategies. I'm not a "UX" nut but I don't need nor want a vendor to hold me/my business hostage just so they can justify their existence. If MS would cooperate (play nicely) with other technologies - and there are some signs that MS has begun to do so - then they would be acceptable as an option to be considered. Until then, I and many others like myself, will do what it takes to keep our organizations as technology fit and flexible as possible, with or without the Microsofts of the world.