back to article Microsoft patches Freetard-by-design bug

Microsoft has cast itself as one of the Good Guys in the battle over intellectual property, unlike those scofflaws over at Google. Which makes one recent Windows bugfix more than a little ironic: it patches a bug that makes Windows 7 the file-sharing gift that never stops giving. Support advisory number 981,112 confirms that …


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  1. Pat 3


    So your PC wouldn't automatically go to sleep while files were shared even if you stopped sharing them. But you can still manually tell it to do so. And it does stop sharing the files. So, yep, not really that interesting.

  2. Tom 35

    More likely...

    No one uses Windows Media Player.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      you are obviously on another planet, Windows Media Player is one of the best features built in to windows, a couple of quick codec installs and it iwll play anything you want, its libary design is quick clean and efficient, yes yes im sure there are other programs out there that can do a similar job but windows media player is an out of the box player that works for most everyday tasks.

      As to the article, its not "forever" if i watch a movie on my other PC coming from my media centre you would expect the media centre to turn off once its finished(wake on lan is a god send!) the issue is it doesnt, restart the computer and let it go to sleep will work, its only if you have just streamed something that it has issues.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Nope. Same planet.

        > you are obviously on another planet

        Nope. Just the planet where asking Windows or Mac users to futz with anything at all is probably a losing proposition.

        A player that completely automates the ugly details or comes fully equipped to begin with is far more useful and usable.

      2. Eddie Johnson


        WMP is an absolute failure as a video player. Pretty much everything I open it can't find a codec for. Click the More Information and you'd expect some sort of hint as to what it can't find, (maybe even a 4cc code to search for) but no, you get a generic error page telling you absofuckinglutely nothing. I finally realized its because they have zero interest in supporting anything besides their borked wma/wmv formats.

        1. Rob

          I'm gonna give you a...

          ... a Fail cause your expecting WMP to find codecs itself, that's the one thing it is crap at. Bypass all that and just install a codec pack with every common codec known to man and WMP will quite happily play anything you want reliably (well it has done in my experience).

          1. CD001

            And to be fair...

            To be fair to the much maligned WMP... version 11 under Win7 is actually quite good. I've not had to install a codec pack yet and it just pops up without any additional cruft, it's a bit like playing a video in a window without actually having a player there (well, that's how I run it anyway because that's how I prefer it).

            ... besides, WMP works a treat for streaming my library to my PS3 (and therefore my large TV and home theatre system) - and that's an older version of WMP running under WinXP (my old PC was retired to become a Media Centre).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The windows way

            Just download some .exe from the intertubes and ... "happily" doesn't come into it, now does it.

            I'm gonna give you a secfail, Rob.

  3. Sergie Kaponitovicz
    Jobs Halo

    Re: My other computer is a Mac, I'll have you know.

    "My other computer is a Mac, I'll have you know".

    Ditto ....... X4.

    I use W7 on my sole Windows box (as it's the closest to OSX yet), and it's still crap. e.g. hover the mouse over an option — and before you know it the fucking option launches — before I have even had the chance to see what my choices might have been!

    Now, let the El Reg Fanboi antibodies loose in the soup of plasma-rich anti Apple Mac vitriol (most of whom seem to be staffers) telling me I am wrong to claim that W7 still does not come close to OS X (10.4, 10.5 or 10.6).

    BTW: Whatever happened to Freakey?

    1. James O'Brien


      "e.g. hover the mouse over an option — and before you know it the fucking option launches — before I have even had the chance to see what my choices might have been!"

      . . .Try not clicking the mouse or take the anti-palsy medication? Seriously patience bro patience.

      As for OSX (yeah going to get labled a fanboi here oh well) that pile of shit isnt worth the plastic its printed on.

      *nix isnt worth the freetards that swear by it.

      Every OS has its good parts and bad parts. I would rather have the options for software (IE: Windows) then only having a few for the same task.

      As for Phreaky wish I knew. I miss his rants.

    2. frymaster

      er, what?

      "hover the mouse over an option — and before you know it the fucking option launches — before I have even had the chance to see what my choices might have been"

      can you rephrase that, preferably with more specifics? I have absolutely no idea what you might be meaning. By which I don't mean, "it could be one of several things" or "he's probably meaning x but let's be pedantic", i literally have no clue what you might be referring to

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Title required

        IIRC for some programs in Vista/7 MS included a "helpful" option to allow things to be activated by just leaving the mouse pointer over them.

        Problem is that when you're starting to learn the new system, you can easily activate something while you're still reading the popup/menu to find whatever it was that you were actually doing.

        It's one of the accessibility options in the control panel and for some reason a few manufacturers have it switched on as part of their default configuration.

        I can see how it might be useful if for example you had arthritis and the action of clicking a mouse button was painful, but conversely it's a bit of a pain elsewhere if you're just someone trying to read what their options are.

        It's not actually MS at fault here, but they get perceived as being the problem because they push the branding so hard.

        They can't have it both ways - the one hand saying "Buy a machine with Windows because it's standard across all of them" and then, when an OEM does something to bork the installation, saying "It's not us guv.".

  4. Joeykins
    Gates Halo

    Not a general release hotfix

    Presumably this is an issue that's been fixed in the upcoming Win7 SP1 that, like many non-security fixes for Windows, hasn't been deemed important enough to go through all of the testing required to get it on to WinUpdate. I have a number of manual only install fixes for WinXP/2003 and Exchange 2003 that I've deemed critical but that MS consider optional.

    I agree that it's amusing that sharing media completely prevents the system from entering sleep/hibernate; presumably it's a bad implementation of an "if this file is being streamed right now then don't switch off" check.

    But yeah, I had a QFE vs GDR versioning issue a while ago which I've now gotten my head around! A good summary is here:

  5. Anonymous Coward

    @Pat 3

    You're missing the point. It's still a bug that needs fixing. Would it be more interesting if the bug was "after I use Word my machine won't sleep, but it does before I start Word?" The point is, you don't share files, it sleeps. You then start sharing files, and sleeping is disabled - seems a reasonable thing to have happen. You then stop sharing files, but the sleep ability doesn't come back - that's a bug.

    Regardless, WMP is still a bloated, overweight piece of app-crap I'd quite happily see the back of.

  6. The Original Steve


    Am I missing some obvious humour here? Or is it just a minor power saving bug?

  7. Sooty

    i wondered why

    after a while, for no obvious reason, my pc's all stopped going to sleep properly.

    it wasn't anything big enough to actually make me go out of my way and look for a fix though.

  8. David Simpson 1

    Andrew says freetard in his sleep....

    So sharing my WMP library over MY network to other computers I own makes me a freetard ?

    I think you need a new buzz word sir ......


      Andrew says freetard in his sleep....

      > So sharing my WMP library over MY network to other computers

      > I own makes me a freetard ?


      > I think you need a new buzz word sir ......

      I would like to second that motion!

      Freetard indeed.

  9. Stevie


    Not sure I agree with the humour potential of a computer that won't hibernate properly. The few Linux fans I know that have struggled with the same issue on laptops don't think it's *that* funny.

    Also not clear on "the gift that keeps on giving" bit. No doubt this is the humour, but only Linux power-admins can get the joke. Since I only have such experience with George, DME, VME, OS-1100, OS-2200, SVR4, Solaris 9 and Solaris 10 I have no chance.

    Oh well.

    1. Doug Glass

      You Don't Say?

      Windows and Linux share a common problem? Well I just be frakked running!

    2. MrT

      "the gift that keeps on giving"

      Possible film reference - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Chevy Chase's character receives a subscription to the 'Jello of the Month' Club as his Christmas bonus (instead of a cash), and Randy Quaid reassures him with those words.

      There'll be others, but not where my mind travels...

      1. Kubla Cant

        "the gift that keeps on giving"

        Apparently originated in 1926 in ads for phonographs by the Victor Talking Machine Company.

      2. Marvin the Martian
        Paris Hilton

        It holds for many things indeed

        STDs come to mind.

      3. Stevie


        Nonono dear chap, I don't understand the phrase in the context of the article. I know what it means in the real world, where it likely came from (not the movies, but Christmas Vacation *is* one of my guilty pleasures - I indulge in it every Xmas Eve to help me maintain perspective after several hours of Playmobil "some assembly required" post-Santa setup).

        You see, from what I gather it seems that the computer in question simply won't hibernate (though I think the author means sleep in this case which is different in Windows-7-speek). Why that should imply that it provides the wily datasnoop with access to the now unshared file resources isn't at all clear.

        "The gift that doesn't give much of anything ever again until you let it" would seem more accurate.

        PS My favourite bit is the Blinded Neighbours part. And the Bang & Olufsen Death By Icicle Debacle. And the Saucer Sled Fiasco. And pretty much the rest of the movie.

        1. MrT

          And I agree

          the datasnoop thing is unclear - it's not as if WMC suddenly opens up any more ports in or out just because it's still running on a PC that's now hibernating. If the home network is behind a typical router, there's no more access from nefarious third-parties than when the PC was awake and sharing files with WMC.

          Now if the PC started to overheat because the core was still chugging away but had hibernated 'ancilliary' things like the cooling fans, causing damage to components,discolouring the nice white plastic unibody case and becoming a potential fire risk, then there'd be a story. Sounds a bit specific, eh? It's what happened with my series-1 13" MacBook that I used to just open and close without powering off... Some things like that tend to colour a user's impression of the build quality, maybe the same colour as the brown-black near melted Apple case. At least my WinXP MCE thru to Win7 laptop has never nearly burnt the house down, even with this 'issue'...

        2. MrT
          Thumb Up

          And the one liners...

          like after fetching the massive Griswald Family Christmas Tree home - Neighbour "Where are you going to stick that?"; Clark "Bend over and I'll show you", "You've got a lot of nerve speaking to me like that!", "I wasn't speaking to you" - at which point neighbour's wife/partner get's more uppity... etc :-D

          I thought it linked nicely with the whole freetard theme though, plus expectations of something wonderful and useful that turns out to be less so.

          On the whole, WMC is fine - this issue about failing to sleep seems to affect casual users more, those who might use it as an app along with the general panoply of other apps on a general-use PC or laptop (as I do), rather than users who have set up specific media centres using WMC as a PVR. I don't need that function so the laptop gets powered off at and of session, not just closed. It could be argued that general-use PCs should just stick to running WMP, not WMC, but it is nicer to use, and the remote works well, and hooking the laptop up to the big 1080p TV looks impressive. OTOH, some dedicated PVRs use enough power when 'asleep' judging by the reviews hereabouts - you get what you pay for, I suppose.

          "It's a quality item - if you don't mind me askin', how much did that set you back?" and so on ;-)

  10. Brian


    Your article makes it sound like sharing functionality isn't disabled when you disable it. The hotfix is to address the computer not going to sleep anymore after disabling Media Sharing. I don't see anything odd or humourous about the hotfix.

    Usually people don't just go looking for hotfixes unless they are encountering a problem. In the case of Media Sharing via Windows Media Player, it isn't a highly used feature. But people that do use it, don't tend to turn it off.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ..."freetard" has officially become overused to the point of worthlessness. It is now up there with “open.” WMP’s media sharing feature being linked to “freetard?” I’m hoping this is just a case of whomever wrote the title not really knowing which file/media sharing feature was being talked about. (I.E. not piracy.)

    Either way, can I nominate it for execution? Like m**e, the four letter word for mobile telephones that shall never be spoken? I recommend “openistas” for FLOSS supporters and “cheapskates” for those who simply want to download crap for free. Those who pirate because there is no alternate method to obtain the media in question are a significant minority, but do exist. For them I recommend something that means “enjoys the esoteric.”

    1. Doug Glass

      Why Not ...

      ... just do away with the dumbass little words and use the proper term. Whatever that might be.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Why do you need stupid names?

        Because then you would loose the little things that become memes and hold a community of readers together. Reporting nothing but dry facts has been shown again and again to lead to the failure of any news organisation. Not a failure as in "failure to meet journalistic standards," but failure as in "nobody will read this."

        From a sheer business perspective, if you are reporting news you have three choices: create a community around memes and in-jokes. (The Register.) Amuse readers with humour. (The Daily Show.) Sensationalism. (Fox News.)

        Now, every organisation takes their particular track a little to far at times. Fox news has forgotten what news is, and has turned it entirely into sensationalised entertainment. The Daily Show never really promised to deliver news, be became a news source anyways. They realised that, and so do struggle to provide a balance between factual information and outright mirth.

        El Reg, like many a nerd news site has survived largely on in-jokes. People read El Reg because of the tech news, but they keep coming back because of the community they’ve built around the site. Ars Technica is no different; perhaps a little lighter on the in jokes, but that is only because the forums are lightly moderated and the community memes take root there. (Faster moving forums allow for a much closer knit commenter community.)

        Either way, the goal is the same: draw new readers in, and keep existing readers returning. You can’t be everything to everyone, and thus there will always be a % that are turned off by your particular style. Still, I think that overall El Reg has managed to find a style that appeals to a very broad segment of geeks. The mere existence of internet memes at all is the proof in the pudding. Nerds like in jokes; just look at how long the jargon file has been around.

        Given all of this, I still prefer El Reg’s approach, though in this case the Freetard thing has been done to death. It has been overused and misused to the point that, like the word “open,” it has absolutely no meaning.

        There are plenty of El Reg memes that I have no problem with, and even enjoy. Paris, Boffins, Rise Of The Machines, the institutional fascination with coming up with new ways to describe DARPA…these are okay and good. Even fights about which memes are memes and which shouldn’t be memes may in fact be a meme around here. (Millhouse is not a meme is a meme?)

        So in short…

        …soon it will be Friday. I demand Playmobil about Paris and a certain m**b flinging clotheshorse. They should be stumbling out of the pub whilst arguing about Microsoft versus Linux versus Apple when they encounter the mad DARPA boffins’ Rise Of The Machines play.

        amanfromMars will be handing out tinfoil hats to commenttards wearing “I, for one…” t-shirts who are demanding to know the IT angle. They will downvote you for disagreeing with them while holding their FAIL placards and getting their coats.

        The entire thing will be filmed by an Orwellian supergovernment on CCTV while in the background an argument rages about contractors versus in house IT staffs. Everyone will be killed by grammar pedants who spat coffee out their nose, ruining their keyboards, whilst reading the Bastard Operator From Hell. They will then start whinging about how terrible their mobile carriers are and how bad the state of broadband is.

        The pedants will be killed by sharks with frikking laser beams attached to their frikking heads.

        Nowhere (or everywhere?) will a Freetard be found, because not even the badgers are actually sure what the meaning of it is anymore.

        Joke alert lest you take this post too seriously…

        1. peter 5 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Scrub the joke icon

          @AC 7th July 2010 05:41 GMT

          Spot on. That post should be issued as orientation to every wannabe commentard.

        2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Why do you need stupid names?

          Well, I find down the pub people who are not regular readers are very clear what a freetard is. It's self explanatory. Nice try, though ;-)

          1. Anonymous Coward

            @Andrew O

            So the people down the pub use "Freetard" to mean "anyone who disagrees with us?" If they are indeed "quite clear on the definition" then they are either heavily inebriated such that multiple conflicting definitions make perfect sense to apply to the same word, or just plain mad.

            Applying “freetard” to those individuals who want to obtain software/music/other media for free makes perfect sense. Applying it to the open source community is substantially more questionable. Applying it to people who are doing nothing more illegal or “free’ than streaming a video from their Windows 7 computer to their xBox is flat out WTF.

            Pint, because perhaps writing before drinking is better than the other way ‘round.

  12. DrXym


    People share files with WMP to get them from one device to another such as to an XBox 360 or some other DLNA device. How is that being a "freetard". What does that label even mean anyway?

  13. Martin Lyne


    Not often you see a news article broadcast the fact it's old.. and the fact it's already proven that nobody cares.

    Fact of the matter is, you install Win 7 -> share -> unshare -> try to hibernate pc -> it fails -> you blame it on Microsoft software

    How does this have anything to do with copyright? If I wan't to share some files to another computer I own, you just try and stop me. Just. Try.

  14. Ron 10

    And you install it how?

    And how do you apply the fix? I try to unzip (double clicking to let MS do it or 7-zip) and it wants a password. WTF?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Ron 10

      Once you filled out the request form, you would have received an email (you know, the one that had the link in it that you used to actually get the hotfix in the first place).

      That email has the password in it. Just copy-paste. Easy as pie.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious humour potential?


    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Obvious humour potential?


    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I'm with AC

      The humour is completely lost on me. Microsoft fixes minor power saving bug. People affected were happy. Noone else cared. Interesting as a line item if you were affected.

  16. DaveTheRave


    Well thanks for that insightful news story.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe becuase... was a late night and early morning, but am I missing something here?

    When you stop sharing files, a bug stops the machine going into sleep mode?

    And thats news / funny?

    1. Gareth.


      I'm anything but a fan of Microsoft and their products, but even I'm struggling to see the humour here. It just makes the author of the article look like an "anti-fanboy" (if such a thing exists).

      1. OffBeatMammal


        sounds like Andrew had one more story to reach his quota so let his Microsoft bashing out for a play.

        How he equates sharing media files on your home network to being a freetard I'm not quite sure... wow so I have an archive on one machine (eg our Media Center) that I choose to view on another (PC in the kids room) ... that makes me a freetard why exactly?

        And this is either a bug with WMP or the shell not resetting the Power policy flag when you stop sharing ... hardly Earth shattering.

        He could perhaps have had a dig at iTunes accounts being hijacks or Facebook discovering that their security wasn't all that ... but bashing Microsoft is easier...

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: +1

          And here you are commenting about it. Must be a slow day in the office... :)

  18. karl 15

    My files

    Since when does file sharing make you a freetard!

  19. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    My WMP on XP always pauses the hibernate action.

    ...because of something about being unable to resume playing media from the stopping point.

    My usual response is to close WMP. Does that do it here?

    I use VLC more. Have a problem with "radio" recordings from the Freeview TV service and Grundig USB-stick-based set top box, am planning to try smplayer sometime. Grundig video recordings also don't show time as they play in VLC, similar recordings from a Nikkai receiver (which plays but doesn't record "radio" ) do show time.

  20. Michael 28

    Anyone done this?

    Type "lol limewire " into google and hit "i feel lucky" .... don't do it in chrome, cos it spoils it .

    1. Lionel Baden
      Thumb Up

      wait i missed that

      Fukken LOL

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Anyone done this?

      Where's the Snake?

  21. Stevie


    Recently given an iPod, so recently started using iTunes, largely booted about by fans as knocking all others into cocked hat etc etc etc on my Windows 7 lappy.

    Well, like everything else I've tried by Apple for myself, with the notable exception of the iPod, the facts don't come close to the hype.

    It plays music as well as the WMP does. BFD. That's what it is supposed to do. Naturally it doesn't display with the Windows standard title bar, button arrays or what have you. That would be too...well I'm not sure what, but whatever it is, Apple had a good reason for doing it I'm sure.

    It is the sync conduit for the iPod. This alone keeps it on my system. Though it can't interface in any useful way with the pictures or movies taken on the iPod. For that I have to alter the setup and use Windows filehandling to address the device. If I weren't such an Apple noob I'd be saying "fail" about now, but I'm sure I've missed the point. All those fans can't be wrong.

    Installing iTunes also silently installs a handful of "helper" services that run on startup automatically whether or not the logged-on user gives a fsck about iTunes. This product is great whereas Norton NIS, which at least has a valid excuse for the same behaviour, is Satan made manifest for doing exactly the same thing? Why in Jobs name can't these services be started when iTunes is launched, which is the only time they are needed? No man can answer, at least, not with a straight face. More 'better" design in action.

    It won't even attempt to load up the cover art (not deadly, but best for identifying what's what on the small iPod screen) without an iTunes account. For the art I have to supply a valid credit card number? No doubt this is part of the "better" apple user experience. Not sure how *that* works, but what the hey. Didn't need to do any of that on WMP though, it just got on with it.

    Once the wretched thing has a user iTunes iStore account associated with it it'll make the attempt, but about 25% of the cover art for my collection can't be found, and some of the stuff that *is* found is just plain wrong. WMP found the same items correctly with no problem. So I end up using the WMP art files to give iTunes a bleeding clue. Again, not sure how this is a fundamentally better user experience, but that nice Mr Jobs says it is and you can't deny facts like that. I'm not sure what iTunes finds so repugnant about live album cover art (found none of them to date) and no longer care.

    But the unwanted circulars have started arriving in my inbox just fine, thank you. I unchecked boxes like mad during the install process but must've missed one somewhere.

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