Tuesday, September 27, 2016

IE only patches for Windows 7?

Today while creating a new image I waited until Windows 7 was completely updated (sans-IE11) before installing IE11.
To my surprise, three patches were still required by the IE11 installer:

1) Platform update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (2670838)

From Microsoft:
This update improves the range and performance of the following graphics and imaging components:
Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP)
Windows Animation Manager (WAM)
XPS Document API
H.264 Video Decoder
JPEG XR codec

2) "0x00000050" Stop error after you install update 2670838 on a computer that is running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (2834140)

3) An update for the Segoe UI symbol font in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2... (2729094)

From Microsoft:
This update adds support for emoji characters and some control glyphs that are included in Windows 8 and in Windows Server 2012.

Given that update 2 is a fix for a problem in update 1, we basically have two different updates that appear to be necessary only if you upgrade IE. The only part of Windows 7 that would care about new graphics in Segoe UI symbol font would be IE, I guess. I'd love to know of any third-party apps on Windows 7 that take advantage of the new graphics on Segoe UI symbol font provided by that update.

The first update, 2670838, seems to have a storied history, judging by Google results. It was first required as a prerequisite of IE10 (Win7 shipped with IE8), and people had tons of trouble with it. Apparently it was related to hybrid graphics, thus the fix in 2834140.
The new graphics features introduced in 2670838 were first required to support IE. However apparently Oculus Rift requires it now as well. Looking at the list of updates that 2670838 replaced, it seems like a graphics intensive application like Oculus Rift would need it:

2484033 An update that improves the print performance of XPS documents in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2 is available
2505438 Slow performance in applications that use the DirectWrite API on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2
2511250 You cannot print a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) or level 3 Cascading Style Sheet (CSS3) file in Internet Explorer 9
2522422 Cannot print from Internet Explorer 9 using some Canon printers
2488113 An application that uses Direct2D or Direct3D may crash in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2
2741355 You cannot start Windows Movie Maker 2012 when a graphics card that only supports DirectX 9 is installed on a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer

However a number of these "replaced" updates seem like their applicability would extend far beyond IE or graphics intensive apps. My guess is that these "replaced" updates are still coming through Windows Update even without IE11, but that the superseding update 2670838 contains additional functionality that was considered optional by Microsoft, apparently these items which are referenced in the update but not in the replacement updates:

Windows Animation Manager (WAM)
H.264 Video Decoder
JPEG XR codec
..and maybe additional improvements to other related components?

It's hard to say without going back through and attempting to install the "replaced" updates on an otherwise fully updated image of Win7 (minus IE11).

It is likely that MS is not pushing 2670838 outside of IE11 due to the problems that require 2834140. It is entirely possible that 2670838 could bork someone's system before they have a chance to patch it with 2834140. You'd think MS would find a way around this, like an integrated installer for both? Anyway that's my best guess why this update, which seems useful far beyond IE, would not be required by MS otherwise.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Flag Tweaks to Speed Up Google Chrome

Flag Tweaks to Speed Up Google Chrome (at least as of version 53).

If you haven't installed an ad blocker start there. :)

Go to chrome://flags

"Experimental canvas features"
"Fast tab/window close"
"Experimental QUIC protocol"
"Simple Cache for HTTP"
"Enable the "stale-while-revalidate" cache directive"
"Enable loading IPC optimization for small resources"
"Override software rendering list"
"Accelerated 2D canvas"
"GPU rasterization"

"Number of raster threads" to 4