WServerNews: The last good personal OS?

Editor’s Corner

Welcome to Issue #1251 of WServerNews! Go to to find the latest issues of our newsletter; older issues dating back to 1997 can be found in our archive. Please tell all your colleagues and friends about WServerNews and tell them they can receive it each week in their inbox by subscribing here. Enjoy this week’s newsletter and send us your feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered, thanks!

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor


In this week’s newsletter

This week in WServerNews your Editor shares on his thinking about the past, present and future of personal computing operating systems. Or personal OS as I like to call them. You can also make a three-letter acronym from this, but since I’ve always tried to keep this a G-rated newsletter I’ll avoid doing that — though it does reflect my current feelings about much of what’s been happening with computers, both desktops and laptops, over the last few years.

The bottom line for me and many other businesses I talk to is this: Windows is getting worse and there are no good alternatives. So we’re stuck. What do we do?

Let me unpack this…

Windows 10

Many business users I know tell me that Windows 7 was the last good desktop operating system. A few old-timers still remember Windows XP even more fondly, but they’re mostly a dying breed nowadays.

So let’s talk for a moment about Windows 7. Why do some businesses, mostly smaller ones, still hang on to it? And why do large number of consumer users still use it? First, it works. It just works most of the time. Occasionally something breaks after an update is installed, but Microsoft took pains in the past to fix such problems in a reasonable amount of time depending on their urgency.

Second, Windows 7 has been extensively documented in how to use it and how to deal with problems when they arise. Myself and several close colleagues even wrote the book on how to administer Windows 7 in the enterprise. There’s also lots of free and third-party tutorials and stuff out there that still comes in handy if you still have Windows 7 kicking around your office or basement; some of it is good and some of it not so good.

Then there’s the budgetary constraints both individuals and corporations feel in many countries since the 2008 financial crises, its effects are still being felt in many ways. So buying new PCs with Windows 10 for your home or business isn’t always financially viable, especially if it means you’ll also need to upgrade a lot of other software your users have installed on their computers.

But in the end let’s face it, Windows 7 is on the way out and we can’t rely on it for too much longer except as a low-cost emergency alternative when something goes wrong with the current platform Windows 10.

So what most of us are left with then is Windows 10 and as an IT professional I’m pretty much resigned to that. When working with networks and computers and software is your job, you just get on and deal with things that happen even if you don’t like them. Like the proliferating number of Windows 10 versions and lifecycle. Like the frequent problems involving patching Windows 10 and servicing its servicing stack. Like the question of whether being a Windows Insider actually has any value. Like the Pet Peeves my colleague Brien Posey here at TechGenix shares about.

If you’re in IT and you’re “professional” then you expect difficulties and learn procedures, collect tools and develop processes to handle them. And as a sysadmin if I don’t like Windows 10 then I can try to find another employer, or maybe another career. But otherwise you and I need to bite the bullet and just make things work somehow at our present position of employment, or keep our own small business running if we have one, or keep all of our customers happy if we’re consultants and such.

End users however, even very smart ones, often feel different about Windows 10, and I don’t know whether Microsoft is listening to them or not. This came across strongly to me this last week when I browsed one of my favorite science blogs called BackReAction. Sabine Hossenfelder, also known as Bee, is a theoretical physicist working at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies. She’s working on physics beyond the Standard Model, the physics that tries to understand how the fundamental particles and forces of the universe all work together. During my own university days I was planning on becoming an Astrophysicist myself, and through this things like black holes also drew my own interest towards quantum theory and particle physics.

But that’s an aside. What got me going was this post by Sabine on her blog:

Windows Black Screen Nightmare (BackReAction)

In her post she tells how she’s been a happy Windows user for 20 years until suddenly something broke in the middle of a job she was running on her machine. The culprit is likely an update her Windows 10 machine recently installed.

It’s instructive to read some of the comments she received from the (mostly) smart readers of her blog. One commenter recommended installing his GitHub utility that prevents Windows 10 from automatically updating by killing the Windows Update service every 10 seconds:

Another recommended installing the LTSC version of Windows 10 which is easier to support but requires IT licensing. Still others recommended moving to Linux or MacOS which I’ll talk about in a minute.

But why does Windows 10 keep breaking when new updates for the platform are released? Perhaps this amusing video by someone who claims to have been a former Senior Software Developer in Test (SDET) at Microsoft can offer some insight for us into this question:

Or maybe he’s just a disgruntled former employee, I don’t know. All I know is that from all reports things just seem to be getting worse in this department.

And if users are concerned about Windows 10 giving them less control over their updates, backups, UI and other elements compared to Windows 7, then how are they going to feel when desktop Windows moves to the cloud?


Which brings us back to the thing sitting on my desk, or under my desk, or on my lap at Starbucks. Should businesses start ditching their Windows PCs and laptops and buy MacBook Pros instead? And install VMware Fusion on them so they can have a virtual instance of Windows running when they need access to a version of Microsoft Office or some other Windows program? I can’t stand the butterfly-switch keyboard on these machines, and John Gruber seems to feel the same way:

Some Good Old-Fashioned Speed Bumps for the MacBook Pro Lineup, and a Tweak to the Butterfly Key Mechanism (Daring Fireball)

And I’m not willing to pay the ridiculously high price for a machine that has less power than my Windows 10 laptop even though I end up wrestling with problems caused by updating them. (Thank goodness for System Restore!)

So Macs are a no go for most enterprises because of lack of large-scale ease of manageability, and for many established small businesses because of excessive cost to purchase and maintain.


Then what about Linux? Being in Europe, many of Sabine’s commenters recommended moving to Linux as quickly as possible and saying goodbye to Windows 10 and all things Microsoft. That’s not easy here in North America, there’s a culture thing happening over there in Europe with regard to Microsoft vs Linux. Or maybe it’s just two empires clashing.

The problem with Linux is what happened when I made this comment in last week’s newsletter:

Have any of our readers tried out Manjaro yet? Manjaro characterizes itself as “a professionally made Linux based operating system that is a suitable replacement for Windows or MacOS” and “Multiple Desktop Environments are available through our Official and Community editions.” I was told by a colleague last week that Manjaro is the easiest way for getting your feet wet with Linux:

Let me know if you’ve tried Manjaro and what you think of it.

What happens when I write something like this is that I usually get responses along the following lines of this one who’s sender requested that I withhold his name for reasons you can guess:

Regarding the WServerNews Monday Sept 23 2019 section on “and speaking of Linux …” and the question “Have any of our readers tried out Manjaro yet?

I have tried it, twice. I had 2 Manjaro XFCE virtual machines, and both within weeks of each other had issues. One vm decided it didn’t want to update itself anymore. The other vm one day decided it no longer wished to boot. With no idea on how to fix either, both vms were deleted. Also note that rolling releases have a nasty habit of eventually self destructing in one way or another.

For another opinion on Manjaro, try watching some of the YouTube videos created by a fellow called Matthew Moore. He was really into Manjaro, and he details the issues he had with Manjaro which frustrated him to no end.

Regarding your statement “I was told by a colleague last week that Manjaro is the easiest way for getting your feet wet with Linux:”.

To that my reply is: what a load of rubbish! A much better distro is Linux Mint with the XFCE desktop. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and there is scads of information available. Think of Linux Mint as being Ubuntu done properly. I gave up Windows almost 3 years ago for Linux Mint XFCE and couldn’t be happier. To borrow a line from Apple – it just works. Note that I’ve “kicked the tires” on a variety of other distros and desktops and found myself always coming back to Linux Mint XFCE. I’ve no regrets with this distro and desktop.

Regarding what this individual says, I agree basically with the content but I don’t agree with the tone. IT professionals can’t be fanatics, they need to be professional because the business you work for needs you to be like that. If a different distro of Linux is better than simple statements of reasons with evidence will suffice. So while I usually don’t publish feedback where the sender wants his name withheld, I felt I should publish this one here just to illustrate why Linux has always been something on the edge of my interest even though it’s a powerful and well-designed platform. At heart I’m a professional not a hobbyist or hacker or revolutionary or even a geek. IT exists not for itself but to do other things like keep businesses running and make Auntie Margaret’s cell phone work out in the boonies. IT isn’t like astrophysics or particle physics, you’re not exploring the fundamental elements of the world; you’re engineering solutions to real problems and making things work to everyone’s benefit.

So where does that leave us as businesses who still rely upon our users being able to get their work done on desktop and laptop computers? I don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Windows in the next couple of years. What do you think’s going to happen? What are you using now with Windows 10, and what are your immediate plans for the future? Send me your stories, thoughts and comments: [email protected]

And as for me, I’m already resigned to keep using Windows 10 for our business despite the confused release cycle, frequent problems with updates, lack of good documentation, poor support, and so on. It’s just part of our job. Because the future is forward. But always keep the past around just in case, and for good luck. Like why we still have two Windows 7 PCs running in our offices here. And a piece of the cloud.


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Tip of the Week

>> Got any IT pro tips you’d like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft SCCM Backup and Recovery Guide

Justin Chalfant’s Configuration Manager Blog has a video guide that shows how to perform a backup and restore of a Configuration Manager site:


Admin Toolbox

> Got any admin tools or software you’d like to recommend to our readers? Email us at [email protected]

Free self study guide for learning SQL Server fundamentals. Concepts and definitions provided in this white paper will form the solid foundation of your future DBA expertise.

CrackMapExec is a swiss army knife for pentesting networks:

Processhacker is a free, powerful, multi-purpose tool that helps you monitor system resources, debug software and detect malware:

Infosec_Reference is an Information Security Reference That Doesn’t Suck:


Factoid – IT by (not for) seniors

We didn’t get any responses to last week’s factoid so let’s just move on to this week’s:

Fact: Millions of Americans are still working past the age of 65


Question: Are you over 65 and still working in IT in some fashion? Or are you expecting to be? Why or why not? And yes, I know you’re out there somewhere, probably driving around your yard in your lawn mower…lol

Email your answer to [email protected]


Conference calendar

<Sponsored events should go here as their own separate section with header regardless of what region they are in.>

>> Got an IT conference or event happening that you’d like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

Other Microsoft conferences

Microsoft Licensing Boot Camps

  • Oct 15-16 in Dallas, Texas
  • Dec 9-10 in Seattle, Washington

Infosec conferences

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 3 in New York City

SecTor – Oct 9-10 in Ontario, Canada

Global Cyber Summit – Oct 13-16 in Miami Beach, Florida

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 17 in Scottsdale, Arizona

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 7 in Boston, Massachusetts

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 21 in Houston, Texas

Cyber Security Summit – Dec 5 in Los Angeles, California

Other conferences

VMworld – Nov 4-7 in Barcelona, Spain

Midwest Management Summit – Nov 11-13 in New Orleans, Louisiana

European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference – Dec 2-5 in Prague, Czech Republic

SharePoint Fest – Dec 9-13 in Chicago, Illinois


Podcast Corner

Episode 143 – Adoption Change Management for Microsoft 365 with David Callaghan (Microsoft Cloud IT Pro Podcast)

New Azure Price Reductions, Features, Goodies, and More News (Microsoft Cloud Show)

Mobile Device Management in 2019 with Jeremy Moskowitz (RunAsRadio)

Multiple keys in Power BI (Knee Deep in Tech)


New on

Exchange Server log files growth and inadequate disk space allocation

When it comes to Exchange, if you build it, it will grow. Exchange Server log file growth can fill up your drive and leave you with an empty feeling.

What are the potential disadvantages of SSL/TLS?

There’s wide consensus on the benefits of SSL/TLS. However, not as much attention has been given to SSL/TLS disadvantages.

Exploring native software inventory logging in Windows Server

Windows Server has built-software inventory logging that can be very useful. Here’s how to use this little-known feature.

Passwordless authentication: Safer, better, and about time

Passwordless authentication has quickly become one of the primary means by which users access their laptops, phones, and tablets because of its simplicity.

Automated Incident Response in Office 365 ATP simplifies cybersecurity

Microsoft has pumped up Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection with a new feature, Automated Incident Response. Here’s what you need to know.


Fun videos from Flixxy

Fabio Wibmer’s Bike Adventure in Austria

Freestyle street trials and pro mountain bike rider Fabio Wibmer’s amazing stunts in the city of Vienna and the Austrian countryside:

Carl Sagan Interviewed by Charlie Rose 1996

‘We live in a world filled with Science and Technology where hardly anyone knows of Science and Technology.’

Shopping Mall Dance Flash Mob In Moscow

Slender Russian beauties dance to a fiery song by Rihanna!

Pets Asking For Affection

A funny compilation of vidoe clips, showing pets asking for affection.


More articles of interest

Best of VMworld 2019 U.S. Award winners

The Best of VMworld 2019 U.S. Awards recognize the most innovative new products in the server virtualization, cloud and end-user computing markets. A panel of expert judges evaluated 70 nominated products on display at VMworld 2019 U.S. and named winners in six categories.

Follow Citrix VDI best practices for a successful deployment

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is a complicated product with a lot of different facets. Dig into these best practices to ensure a smooth deployment and management.

Office 365 vs. third-party products

Get serious about protecting your organization from ransomware and phishing attacks by taking a closer look at the leading Office 365 security offerings.

Examine the role of VMware in the HCI market

VMware carved out a leading position for itself in the HCI market. But HCI’s evolution to encompass new areas, such as public cloud, keeps VMware on its toes.


Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

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