Today is Patch Tuesday. May's patches consist of 10 updates that correct 32 unique security issues across Microsoft Windows operating systems and some other Microsoft software.
What Do These Security Updates Do?
These patches from Microsoft update several individual files involved in making Windows and other Microsoft software work.
Do I Need These Security Updates?
You need these updates if you're running any currently supported, 32-bit or 64-bit, Windows operating system: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, plus Windows server versions and Windows RT.
Security updates are also being pushed for Microsoft Publisher, Word, Visio, Communicator, and Lync. The free Microsoft Word Viewer and Windows Essentials applications are also being updated to fix security-related issues.
A few of this month's updates fix problems so serious that if left unpatched, it's possible that someone could gain access to your computer in very specific situations. These issues are given a Critical severity rating.
Most of the fixes this month aren't quite as serious but are security issues that should be corrected nonetheless. Some of these were given a severity rating of Important while others were categorized as Moderate.
Are There Any Non-Security Updates This Month?
Yes, including several non-security fixes for Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 7, and current Windows Server versions. A Root Certificates update is also being pushed out, as well as several .NET Framework 4.5 updates.
Also, as usual, Microsoft is pushing this month's update to the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.
There may also be non-security updates included this month for Microsoft software other than Windows. See the Non-Security Updates link below for details.
Patch Tuesday Problems
This blog post has become Grand Central Station for Patch Tuesday problems each month. While updates from Microsoft rarely result in widespread problems with Windows itself, they do frequently cause specific issues with software or drivers provided by other companies.
Please see How To Prevent Windows Updates From Crashing Your PC for a number of preventative measures you should take before applying these updates, including disabling fully automatic updates.
If your computer freezes during the installation of an update, see How To Recover From a Frozen Windows Update Installation for help.
If the updates installed but you're now experiencing a problem, see How To Fix Problems Caused by Windows Updates for advice on how to undo the damage.
See Windows Updates & Patch Tuesday FAQ for answers to other common questions, including "Does Microsoft test these updates before they push them out?" and "Why hasn't Microsoft fixed the problem that their update caused on my computer?!"
Automatically install: via Windows Update.
Details from Microsoft: Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for May 2013.
Non-Security Updates: New Non-Security Content for 2013.
Next Patch Tuesday: will be June 11, 2013.
A Note on the Comments Below:
I update this blog post for each Patch Tuesday by Microsoft so some of the comments left may be for previous Patch Tuesdays. You can tell which Patch Tuesday a comment is referring to by looking at the notation at the end of the comment. For example, comments addressing Patch Tuesday May 2013 will end with [PT: May 2013].
Mozilla released Firefox v21 today, the latest version of their Firefox browser.
The major improvements in Firefox v21 over v20 involve an update to the Social API (which you can read about here), enhancements to the Do Not Track (DNT) feature, and a new feature called The Firefox Health Report, which you can learn more about in Mozilla's blog post about it here.
You can download Firefox v21 here, or just watch for the update notification next time you're using the browser.
In addition to the new features I already mentioned there were a large number o bug fixes, all of which you can read on their Firefox v20.0 Bug Fixes page. A much easier-to-digest highlight of the new features and major fixes can be found here.
I've been blogging frequently about the upcoming major update to Windows 8. Here's what we know so far:
- It's called Windows 8.1 (Windows Blue was just Microsoft's internal codename).
- It will be free to existing Windows 8 users.
- It will be available as a "public preview" starting on June 26, 2013.
- It will be available [as a full product] by the 2013 holiday season.
- It will bring back the Start menu.
- It will allow you to boot directly to the Desktop.
I'd also guess that the Windows 8.1 update for existing Windows 8 users will be available via the Windows Store on or soon after the time Microsoft is rumored to release it to manufacturers which, according to several sources, should be in August of this year.
You can read all the details in Mary Jo Foley's piece linked below. I highly recommend you follow her if you're interested in keeping up with this topic.
Microsoft Confirms Blue to be Free for Existing Windows 8 Users [Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet]
Windows Keeps Getting Better [Blogging Windows]
Any of you Windows 8 users excited for this update?
NVIDIA has released GeForce drivers version 320.00 beta. This update boosts performance in several games, across nearly all of NVIDIA's popular GPUs in use today, as well as fixes several issues.
Important: This NVIDIA driver is a beta release, meaning it has not been tested in-the-wild by NVIDIA, nor certified by Microsoft. I recommend that you wait for the final, WHQL release of this driver before installing it unless it fixes a serious issue you've been having or you're very interested in a new feature and are willing to take the risks of using a driver that might still have some issues. The latest WHQL certified NVIDIA GeForce driver for Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP was v314.22, which you can still download here.
Here are some of the new features, changes, and fixes available in v320.00 over previous releases:
- This is the "Game Ready" driver for Dead Island: Riptide, Start Trek, and Neverwinter.
- Increases performance in Dirt: Showdown, StarCraft II, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, and several more games.
- Adds or updates SLI profiles for Alien Fear, Neverwinter, GRID 2, Resident Evil 6, and many more.
- Fixes a number of issues with Windows 7 and Windows Vista, as well as a few in Windows 8.
- NVIDIA PhysX is at v9.12.1031 and HD Audio is at v18.104.22.168 in this release.
For complete information on v320.00, see NVIDIA's Version 320.00 Release Notes for Windows 8/7/Vista here (desktop) and here (notebook), or the Version 320.00 Release Notes for Windows XP here. All links are to PDF files.
The following two downloads are for Desktop GPUs ONLY. These are the NVIDIA drivers you need if you have a video card with an NVIDIA ION/ION LE or GeForce GPU installed in your desktop computer.
These two downloads are for Notebook GPUs ONLY. These are the NVIDIA drivers you need if your laptop, netbook, notebook, or tablet is powered by an NVIDIA ION/ION LE or GeForce GPU.
Tip: Not sure if you should download the 32-bit or 64-bit driver? See Am I Running a 32-bit or 64-bit Version of Windows? for help. If you need even more assistance, head over to the GeForce Drivers page and click on the big green AUTO-DETCT YOUR GPU button.
Windows XP Drivers: NVIDIA supports Windows XP less and less with each new GPU and driver release. However, they do support many GPUs on Windows XP with their newest v320.00 drivers. You can download the 32-bit driver here or the 64-bit driver here. These drivers are only designed for desktop GPUs but you may have luck getting them to work on your notebook PC. If not, check with your notebook maker for better drivers or with NVIDIA for an older release.
Note: If you're using a relatively recent version of NVIDIA's GeForce drivers, just right-click on the NVIDIA icon in the system tray and choose Check for updates.... You can download and install the driver automatically from there. If you want to be prompted for beta driver updates, be sure to check the appropriate box in the Preferences tab.
Tip: If you're looking for an up-to-date resource on new drivers, see my Windows 7 Drivers and Windows 8 Drivers pages. I keep those pages updated with information and links to new drivers available from NVIDIA and other major hardware makers.
Realtek high definition (HD) audio drivers version R2.71 is now available, adding some unspecified "driver customizations" and supporting a number of new Realtek chips.
Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the R2.71 driver are available.
Tip: Not sure if you should download the 64-bit or 32-bit driver? See Am I Running a 32-bit or 64-bit Version of Windows? for help.
Note: As is typical with Realtek audio driver updates, there are no listed feature additions or fixes. This update was only released to improve compatibility with newer hardware that contains the Realtek audio chipset. Because you're likely not to gain much by updating, I don't recommend you install the R2.71 update unless you were asked to do so by your hardware manufacturer's technical support or you're trying to solve an issue with your Realtek-based sound card/chipset and reinstalling the drivers is a wise troubleshooting step.
More Information About R2.71:
This Realtek HD audio driver supports the following chipsets in Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista:
ALC882, ALC883, ALC885, ALC886, ALC887, ALC888, ALC889, ALC892, ALC899, ALC861VD, ALC900, ALC660, ALC662, ALC663, ALC665, ALC668, ALC670, ALC671, ALC672, ALC676, ALC680, ALC221, ALC231, ALC233, ALC260, ALC262, ALC267, ALC268, ALC269, ALC270, ALC272, ALC273, ALC275, ALC276, ALC280, ALC282, ALC283, ALC284, ALC286, ALC290, ALC292, and ALC383.
These chipsets are supported in Windows XP and Windows 2000:
ALC880, ALC882, ALC883, ALC885, ALC886, ALC887, ALC888, ALC889, ALC892, ALC899, ALC861VC, ALC861VD, ALC900, ALC660, ALC662, ALC663, ALC665, ALC668, ALC670, ALC671, ALC672, ALC676, ALC680, ALC221, ALC231, ALC233, ALC260, ALC262, ALC267,ALC268, ALC269, ALC270, ALC272, ALC273, ALC275, ALC276, ALC280, ALC282, ALC283, ALC284, ALC286, ALC290, ALC292, and ALC383.
Version 13.4 of the AMD/ATI video card driver suite is now available. Version 13.4 adds support for a few new GPUs, improves performance in several popular games, and fixes a few issues.
Here are more details on some of the fixes and improvements in version 13.4:
- Adds support for AMD Radeon HD7790 & 7990 GPUs.
- Improves performance with several games when using HD 7000 series GPUs.
- Fixes issues a number of issues across supported Windows operating systems.
- Updates the AMD display driver to v12.104.
- Updates the Catalyst Control Center to v2013.0328.2217.38225.
You can see all the details on this new release, including the full list of fixes, plus a full list of compatible AMD/ATI GPUs, in the Catalyst 13.4 Release Notes.
Here are the links to download AMD Radeon graphics drivers v13.4 for Radeon (and Mobility Radeon) HD 7000, HD 6000, and HD 5000 series GPUs:
Radeon HD 4000, HD 3000, HD 2000, and HD AGP series drivers require a different set of drivers, tend to be released less often, and are usually focused on problem fixing instead of feature adding. Here are download links to v13.1, the latest release that supports those products:
Other downloads, like AMD chipset drivers, AMD OverDrive, beta downloads, and more, can be found here.
If you encounter problems after installing v13.4 and you're confident that it's a bug with the new driver, let AMD know by filling out their issue reporting form. If you're using one of their legacy products (HD 4000, 3000, 2000, or older), use this form instead.
Tip: Not sure if you should download the 32-bit or 64-bit driver? See Am I Running a 32-bit or 64-bit Version of Windows? for help. If you're not even sure what GPU you have, you can choose to download and install AMD Driver Autodetect which will identify your operating system and video card, and then provide you with the correct driver.
Important: Toshiba, Sony VAIO, and Panasonic notebooks with integrated AMD/ATI graphics are not supported by any driver from AMD. Please use the video drivers provided by your computer manufacturer in place of these drivers provided by AMD.
Tip: See my Windows 7 Drivers and Windows 8 Drivers pages for information about popular new drivers in those versions of Windows. I keep those resources regularly updated with releases not only from AMD, but also from other major hardware makers.
Note on Comments: The comments below are carried through updated blog posts when new Radeon drivers are released so some may apply to older versions of these drivers. I'll add a note at the end of each comment, reflecting the driver version it was left for.
Windows XP was a hugely successful operating system and is still used by millions of people all over the world. Unfortunately, it's been in use for over 12 years, has been succeeded by three Microsoft operating systems (first Windows Vista, then Windows 7, and then Windows 8), and is approaching its "retirement" of sorts.
When I talk of the "retirement" of Windows XP, I mean the end of support for the product from Microsoft. The self-service Microsoft Support site will still be available for Windows XP (probably forever) but there will be no more free, or paid, support for the product.
In other words, no more security-based updates on Patch Tuesday, no more bug fixes, no more service packs. You're certainly welcome to continue to use Windows XP as long as you'd like but you'll probably find that newer software will be less and less likely to work properly. As many software makers have already done over the past several years, most or all will stop making sure that their product works with Windows XP.
See Microsoft's 365 Days Remaining Until XP End Of Support. The Countdown Begins article from last week for all the technical details.
When Does Windows XP Support End?
Support (security patches, bug fixes, etc.) will end on April 8, 2014. Until then, Windows XP will will still be supported in Microsoft's monthly patches.
What Are My Options?
The easiest option is to do nothing. However, as I mentioned above, you run the risk of a less useable computer as time goes on. You also run the risk of being open to Windows security vulnerabilities that are discovered in the future.
The other option, assuming your computer hardware meets minimum requirements, is to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Windows 7 or Windows 8 makes the most sense.
I'll be reminding you again here in my blog, and via social networks, as the support-end date approaches.
I blogged a few weeks back about Windows "Blue", a major update to Windows 8. Since then, several bits of information have come out clarifying (or confusing, depending on how you look at it) this new Windows update strategy.
I'll save us both some time and send you to the source. Here are two really detailed pieces from Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) with both facts and rumors, about
Windows Blue Windows 8.1:
Microsoft's Windows Blue looks to be named Windows 8.1 [Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet]
What Microsoft's Blue is and isn't [Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet]
UPDATE: Mary Jo has another piece out today (April 16th), titled Microsoft's Windows 8 Plan B(lue): Bring back the Start button, boot to desktop. While not certain by any means, more than one source is saying that it's possible that this coming update to Windows 8 may allow straight-to-desktop boot and bring back the Start button, settling two of the loudest criticisms of Windows 8.
Is a Windows 8 that gets regular enhancements a more attractive Windows 8 to you?
Version 22.214.171.1247 of Intel's Chipset Device Software is now available. This update corrects branding for several devices.
Intel's INF updates are not drivers in the most technical sense, but are instead updates to important files that tell Windows how to use Intel integrated hardware. However, I usually still refer to them as drivers.
Note: If you're not experiencing any issues with your hardware then this update probably isn't necessary, though I've rarely seen Intel chipset driver updates cause any problems.
- Intel 3 Series Chipsets
- Intel 4 Series Chipsets
- Intel 5 Series Chipsets
- Intel 6 Series Express Chipsets
- Intel 7 Series Express Chipset
- 2nd Generation Intel Core Chipsets
- 3rd Generation Intel Core Chipsets
- 4th Generation Intel Core Chipsets
- Intel 800 Series Chipsets
- Intel 900 Series Chipsets
- Intel Xeon 3400 Series Chipsets
- Intel Xeon 5500/3500 Series Chipsets
- Intel Server/Workstation Chipset
- Lynx Point Chipset
- Lynx Point LP
Important: If your Intel chipset isn't listed above, or you're not sure what motherboard you have (or if it's even an Intel motherboard or one with an Intel chipset), you can always perform any Intel related updates using their automatic Intel Driver Update Utility.
Sunday, March 31st, is World Backup Day, the day we technology folks remind you how important it is to backup your data. Considering my particular expertise, I tend to do this much more often than once per year, but I'll take this annual excuse to do it yet again!
Here's the message to remember:
Your Data is More Valuable Than Your Device!
Hardware is cheap and getting cheaper. You know what's expensive or even priceless? That term paper you spent three weeks writing, the $3,000 USD in music and movies you have on your hard drive, the digital video of your little boy or girl's first step, etc.
You can get a new computer or phone, but try replacing those important files: You can't!
So what do you do? How do you make sure you never lose the bits and bytes important to you?
I'm a very huge of fan of online backup services. I think using a cloud backup service (what they're sometimes called) is the most easy, economical, and effective way of keeping your important data safe.
See my 26 Online Backup Services Reviewed, which I've just updated today, for a ranked list, complete with prices. Some plans allow an unlimited amount of storage, some limit you to so many GBs or TBs, some support multiple simultaneous computers, some are even free for a just a little storage.
No matter what your needs, I've done all the research to help you make the right decision.
Aside from the list of reviews I linked to above, here are some more online backup resources you might find helpful:
- CrashPlan+ Review (my favorite service)
- Unlimited Online Backup Plans
- Price Comparison for Unlimited Plans
- Free Online Backup Plans
- Free Mac Backup Software
- WordPress Backup Tools
- How to Backup an iPad to iCloud
- Backing Up Your PHP Database
- How to Easily Backup Your Facebook Data
Image © World Backup Day