Microsoft is Not My Friend Today

I am working with Dell to create a starting computer image for laptops I buy from them that will have all our computers set up the way we want them to be right out of the factory.  This will save an hour or so of work for me on each computer.

This works really well EXCEPT for Microsoft's heavy-handed intervention.   As part of the setup process before I create the default image, I switch the windows default browser to Chrome and the default app for opening pdf files to Adobe Reader.  No matter what we do, when the new computer boots up with this image, windows switches the default browser and PDF app to Microsoft Edge (apparently via 'sysprep".)  I might be able to live with this for the browser, but Edge is defective in opening PDF files, specifically it does not allow pdf's with form fields to be saved in a way that retains the form entry.  My users will never be able to figure out how to reset this themselves so now I have to figure out how to write batch files so I can override the Microsoft override after it runs.  Less intrusive but still irritating is the fact that Microsoft also adds back all their sales spam I deleted, including their "get office" and "try skype" apps.

As an aside, it is really sort of funny nowadays to put Chrome or Firefox on a new Microsoft computer.   If you try to make these other browsers the default, you get this message that says something like "wouldn't you like to try Edge, it is way better than our old browser that we tried for years and years to make you use and then abandoned."  I am paraphrasing of course, but that is the gist.


  1. John O.:

    There is a reason why I loath Windows 10, it's the fact that Microsoft is deliberately controlling your user experience so that you have limited choices that they approve of. Then they nag like crazy if it is not running like they suggest. They're out of touch from the customer and it sucks.

  2. ErikTheRed:

    Unfortunately, the only decent way that I know of to deal with these issues (without using third-party tools) is through Active Directory Group Policy settings. You can use Azure AD if you don't want to own your own servers. You can tame the Windows 10 mess, but it's a pain.

  3. EDM:

    Azure AD would work in your mostly remote environment, but it is an additional cost per user per month on top of everything else. I would give you some of that control you seek, but another thing to pay for and manage. It is always a battle in IT on where to find the balance on automation vs just sucking it up and doing it manually. Good luck. Being a windows sysadmin is no fun in my eyes, even though I do it almost every day.

  4. EDM:

    Thinking more about this, if you are still trying to write the batch file, try searching the web for this "sysprep resets default browser for new users". It should help.

    Personally I would run this file every time the machine boots, since I suspect in the near future an automatic update will install Edge 2.0 or whatever and reset the default applications again.

    Good luck.

  5. Aggie -:

    Considering how Apple and Google also 'manage' your experience by severely limiting your options to their conveniences, are you certain that you're the one who's out of touch? :) I've so far resisted the attraction of using the cloud to house everything I use and hold dear. Hard drives, baby. It's the dirt people's way.

  6. Mason:

    Microsoft is getting ahead of the "do it our way" game with Win10.

  7. John O.:

    I'm most frustrated that my version of Windows 10 decided to unactivate itself one day. So now I have to deal with it nagging me to reactivate it but it won't let me, so I have to reinstall it again for the third time since I built this thing.

  8. jdgalt:

    Come on over to the Ubuntu Linux side of the force.

  9. marque2:

    I found one drive to be the best of the cloud storage devices. You can install the app on all your android and apple phones and automatically download pics into a file system that is thw only one that works well natively on windows.

    The one thing MS does well, I think.

  10. Jaedo Drax:

    Brand new out of the box flagship product came with windows 10 installed on it... to complete setup, I had to download an update, that took more than 9 hours to do, followed by several more hours of removing all of the bloatware, and other windows crap that is installed by default.

  11. CapnRusty:

    Buy a few copies of Windows 7 while you still can.

  12. Matthew Slyfield:

    Microsoft was never your friend and they never wanted to be. M$ is your crack dealer.

  13. StillAnOptimist:

    Have you tried to use some version of Linux -? (!) ... easy to customize, copy, install ... (unless you are tied in to specific software that is Microsoft Centric/demands specific version of Windows) ... (Just thought I'd throw that in) (I use Linux for pretty much everything and PC's work faster, better and easier to manage)

  14. StillAnOptimist:

    Oh - did not see this before I posted (I am ubuntu all the way)

  15. Ward Chartier:

    A number of companies are moving customers away from buying products. Instead, we buy sales and marketing policies, which, as Mr. Meyer details from time to time, are an impediment to customers.

  16. Christopher Udy:

    +1 on using AD Group Policies - it's taken almost 2 years to get Win10 suitable enough for my corporate network to where I'm allowing my vendor to ship Win10 preinstalled...

  17. ErikTheRed:

    Azure AD for a small company is something like $120 a month. Obnoxious, but not the end of the world.

  18. ErikTheRed:

    My theory is that Windows 10 is Microsoft's passive-aggressive way of saying they want to be out of the desktop operating system business.

  19. BobSykes:

    Older folks will remember how early versions of Windows successfully sabotaged Word Perfect and other non-MS programs by not letting them print or do other basic functions. I think Word Perfect, then the leading DOS word processor, no longer, complained publically and threatened to sue.

  20. BobSykes:

    SThe factory won’t install it. Probably an item in their contract with MS.

  21. Aggie -:

    Precisely! Rent seeking at a whole 'nuther level. Instead of buying the software as a product when you select & buy the hardware, you are buying the right of access to use it, for a short period of time, on your hardware. Which means they own the right to configure it to their preferences, instead of yours. They have instantly transformed a one time purchase to an annual fee, retaining full ownership rights. It is but a simple step to assert a landlord's right to access his asset at any time, maybe this will be the next development. Nice, no?

  22. Joe Blizzard:

    Dell should be able to fix that for you with a local group policy that sets default file associations. They should also be able to turn off the "consumer experience" crap that serves up ads and games. It's all available in the tool they're using to create the deployment image. Make them earn their pay.

  23. John O.:

    Its the exact path Microsoft is taking, they view their operating system as a service now. I am fairly confident in the future that they'll have a major update to Windows where it becomes a yearly subscription to all users.

  24. Rick C:

    On the activation screen there's a phone number you can call. You have to type in a 30-or-so-character key, and it'll recite back another long key, and then you have to tell it you haven't installed this copy of Windows on any other computers, and that'll usually reactivate. A lot less hassle.

  25. marque2:

    So what is better? You write your own OSes?

  26. marque2:

    The reason I loath 8/8.1/10 is that Microsoft had created the most simple and easy to understand operating system in Windows 7 - then they went around and mucked it up. I am a software professional and have much less control over windows 10 than Windows 7, just because MS changed so much and tried to automate so much. But yeah, now you get free Ads from Microsoft, and they have implemented a Microsoft App store, so Microsoft can get a piece of the take on all software sold.

  27. marque2:

    They basically looked at the Google play store, and Apple App store, and said, hey, why can't we skim 30% off of all software sales. So they implemented an App store as well as periodic advertisements to catch up. What annoys me is if you have the product installed, MS will still advertise it to you. Office 360 - yes I have it, stop with the ads.

  28. Matthew Slyfield:

    Maybe Linux.

    Even if Windows was the best OS out there, that still wouldn't make MS your friend.

  29. Lonnie:

    you might consider a Linux distro like Ubuntu with Libreoffice, the learning curve is negligible and it has chrome and adobe reader, firefox and with WINE (WIndows Emulator) can run any software you might need

  30. JTW:

    uh, no. Horrible user interface, horrible hardware support, extremely expensive support people, unstable. Nice if you want to spend 6 hours out of your 8 hour work day trying to get your applications to run (or the machine itself).

  31. JTW:

    uh, no. Windows never did that, nor did WordPerfect corporation. And yes, I used those early versions of Windows and WordPerfect.

  32. JTW:

    in other words, no different from what other companies have been doing for a long time.
    Yes, looking at you there, Adobe.

  33. JTW:

    no, the factory doesn't want to support unstable crap like Linux.

  34. jim jones:

    Use the Enterprise version

  35. msft:

    Wordperfects history is often incorrectly reported. The program essentially didn't make the transition from Windows to DOS, partly due to business reasons (the corporation was sold right around that time and the new owners were more interested in monetization than investment) and partly due to technical ones (decision to rewrite instead of port to Windows and maintain both versions in the market in parallel).

  36. marque2:

    Linux is still pretty clunky - even compared to Windows 10. It has improved.over the years - I still wouldn't set up Grandma's computer with it. And Microsoft is my friend in that it.produces a product I want to use. Though I am.still complain.

  37. Aggie -:

    In a sense, but in a bigger sense, no. Microsoft is an operating system. Without it, Adobe won't work, nor will any other software package. This is not like Sirius saying you have to pay their annual subscription to hear the music, it's like Ford saying pay us an annual fee and we'll let you drive.

  38. Aunty Fah-Fah:

    I've been retired four years, and I still can't being myself to open the blinds.

  39. StillAnOptimist:

    You must be talking about Windows programs ... sure - With Linux, it is just a breeze ...(terrific interfaces, you can choose whatever interface you want - even one that "looks" like windows ... and one that "looks" like a MAC - and multiple desktops - all sorts of goodies to get work done)

  40. StillAnOptimist:

    You would be surprised at how easy to install and use many Linux distros are - Ubuntu for one ... I have taken multiple windows machines that people got tired of (because they got too slow) and wiped off windows, installed linux and they keep on chugging ...

  41. StillAnOptimist:

    I am beginning to wonder if you work for Microsoft OR perhaps a vendor dependent on microsoft support - Linux is extraordinarily stable AND easy to use - in fact, I am terrified of using Windows because not only it is slow, but am afraid it will do things without my permission and demand I do something I do not want -

  42. JTW:

    I'm starting to wonder if you are a vendor of Linux tech support, you are such a fanboy you must have a financial interest...

    Linux is unstable, hard to use, no interoperability between applications, it performs poorly on most hardware (especially the graphical shells are horrible).
    And you spend several hours editing config files by hand to use a single application, often every time you need to use it.

    I've all that from personal experience with several Linux distributions over several years. I'd NEVER recommend it as a desktop operating system for anyone for any reason.
    For headless servers it's fine, but that's an entirely different market.

  43. Stan Erickson:

    I've been using Linux (Ubuntu) for a while now on all machines but one, an old Win7 machine to do a few things. I hardly ever have to use it. Ubuntu is very much better than it was years ago.

  44. Stan Erickson:

    I don't understand what you are talking about. I use Ubuntu 12 hours a day on multiple machines. The only instability I know about is one in LibreOffice. LibreOffice recovers very nicely and I rarely lose anything.

  45. Stan Erickson:

    To be honest, during the first month or so with Linux it takes some time for learning, but after you have done that, it is very simple to use and easier than Windows.

  46. Stan Erickson:

    Linux is really easy to download and self-install. Since it is free, just put it on a machine or two and play with it. You might find you go back to Windows less and less as time goes on.

  47. The_Big_W:

    An even smaller hassle is using an OS that won't deactivate itself unless you have a special 30 character key.....

  48. The_Big_W:

    Then if you recommend Linux for headless servers, you must be using OS X for your personal machine because it can integrate very will with those headless linux servers....

  49. marque2:

    They arent hard to install. They are hard to use and administer for ordinary people. Like probably mentioned above - not the best for non engineers unless it is hidden - like in Android.

  50. Fred_Z:

    Yeah, well, Google is still my default search engine, but even so Google regularly asks me to make Google my default search engine.

    Big surprise, idiot socialists do idiot things.