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Computer Browser Service
Posted: Posted June 30th, 2017 by Moonray

On Wednesday the vast majority of our machines were unable to login. We managed to track this down to being because various services were not starting (some were pretty important ones like Workstation). Once we found that we basically just followed the dependencies until we found which which specific service wasn't running that was causing the rest not to start and it turned out to be the "Computer Browser" service.

This service however would not start because it claims a file is missing. So we ran various commands and shit (like sfc /scannow) and nothing was able to fix it.

After a bit of digging we realised the problem was we had a group policy pushing out a registry edit to remove Workstation's dependency on SMB1 running (which we have disabled for security reasons) and this registry edit was also telling Workstation to still depend upon the Computer Browser service.

So we amended the GP to remove Browser from the registry edit, but unfortunately the damage was done and we had to go around every damned computer in the school and edit the registry ourselves. Any PCs that hadn't yet gone bad were saved but we had no idea which were and were not affected without going to them.

So at the end of the story we got everything working again, but it was a pain in the ass having to spend a day and a half going around every PC (and I feel like we've still missed numerous laptops that staff have).

After doing some research it seems that Microsoft has been phasing out the Computer Browser service for quite some time and we're wondering if a recent Windows Update finally killed the service off for good/ my guess is they probably removed this dependency for Workstation a while back but our GP just put it straight back in there. I feel this situation was probably fairly unique, so I can't blame Microsoft for it, as if we hadn't had that old reg edit we'd probably have been fine :(

I just had to get that off my chest, these past few months have been awful at work. Everything that can go wrong just keeps going wrong >.<

There are 9 Replies

I wanted to ask, Moonray, do you guys have any Windows 10 systems in your environment?

With the Creator's Update I am hearing all kind of strange issues with computers going sideways.Might I also ask, are you guys using a WSUS server to filter out some updates?

In the queue we're getting alot of things going wrong during the Creator's update also. I had a client have to reload Windows because alot of the Windows Apps decide they hate life and didn't want to run.

Edited July 1st, 2017 by Forte Lambardi

We haven't moved to Windows 10 yet as we're concerned that most of our staff would have issues adjusting to some of the differences and we're not sure there's enough benefits to outweigh that. Eventually we'll do it just because Win7 will become too old. There were also issues with on win10 and that's an essential piece of software to the operation of the school, not sure if those are resolved yet but it prevented us from even considering upgrading for a while.

We do have a WSUS server. We let mostly everything through but if we hear about any bad updates (or encounter them ourselves) we filter them out.

Posted July 1st, 2017 by Moonray

Also for reference. Our staff complained endlessly when Microsoft replaced the word "File" with the orb icon in Office 2007. It was a blessing when Offuce 2010 undid that! But then they moaned at tge new "flat" design.

So that's why We're hesitant to upgrade to win10 until we have to :)

Posted July 1st, 2017 by Moonray

I would get with the times. Legacy hardware is discontinued for a reason. Windows 10 is much more stable than Windows 7 (at least, in my experience), and the upgrade will be the LAST OS upgrade you will ever have to make for the rest of your life (yay, one OS software model!). I approve of this.

It's been two years since MS ended mainstream support for it. Extended support will end in another 2.5 years. You really shouldn't wait until the security updates end before switching over, you need to look into upgrading NOW. Find replacement software and new workflows. Get used to the new system because it's going to be for life.

Posted July 1st, 2017 by mariomguy

I would get with the times. Legacy hardware is discontinued for a reason. Windows 10 is much more stable than Windows 7 (at least, in my experience), and the upgrade will be the LAST OS upgrade you will ever have to make for the rest of your life (yay, one OS software model!).

It's not that simple unfortunately. As he just said, Moonray has to deal with users being able to use the systems. On top of that, they have critical software that has to be used for production. These things are very common.

Posted July 1st, 2017 by Forte Lambardi

What Forte said.

Posted July 1st, 2017 by Moonray

And in the very next paragraph I also said you need to look into replacing software with new processes and workflows that are compatible in order to make the switch because support for the old, inferior OS is waning. It would be more worth-your-while to find solutions for an upgrade and get it done than to wait a few more years and wind up with further stability issues. After the upgrade, Windows 10 is going to be the last Windows ever made. It's a persistent upgrade.

Also, Windows 10 has Code Writer :P

Posted July 1st, 2017 by mariomguy isn't something we can just replace, it's essential to the running of the school and swapping to a different software package would be a monumental task (and then we'd have to get all the staff trained to use it). This is the real world, not a perfect world. isn't legacy software, it's just not reliable enough on Win10 yet. When it is, we'll probably make the swap.

There's also a lot of concerning stuff when it comes to education/enterprise use of Win10 from things not being as controllable as they are in Win7 to there just being oddities about it.

Not to mention it seems to be very unreliable every time there's a major update. Not something we can just risk with roughly 500 devices to maintain.

You're thinking about this from a different perspective to what we have to at work. Trust me, we have done our research, and there are plenty of good reasons why we're choosing to delay upgrading for as long as possible.

Edited July 1st, 2017 by Moonray

Fuck Windows 10. When extended support for 7 ends in 2020, I'm probably just going to switch to Linux on my current desktop.

Posted July 2nd, 2017 by nullfather
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