Things about Windows I learned the hard way

by Marcus Gröber

This page is intended as a growing collection of PC-related things that took me a while to figure out, in the hope of making them easier to Google in the future...

Why does my Windows 8 PC turn itself on at the same time every day?

[15-Dec-2012] After upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 a few weeks ago, I found that my PC would power up from Hibernation at 12:53pm (precisely) every day. Eventually it turned out that a Scheduled Task called mcupdate_scheduled ("Check for Media Center updates") had the flag "Wake the computer to run this task". This is the issue described in this KB article from Microsoft - unfortunately this type of article is only easy to find if you know the magic keyword "mcupdate_scheduled" already...

Interestingly, Media Center and the mcupdate.exe executable had been removed in the upgrade to Windows 8, so the task had become useless anyway and failed with error 0x80070002. Disabling the task fixed the power-up problem. It should be noted that the "Wake the computer to run this task" setting overrides the global option "Sleep" > "Allow wake timers" under "Advanced power plan settings" for the current plan.

Update: There seem to be other "system maintenance" jobs that can also make a Windows 8 PC power itself up for things like installing updates. I am still trying to collect a more complete list here...

How to avoid drive-by downloads of the toolbar with each update of the Java runtime (JRE)

[15-Aug-2012] Oracle still continues the questionable practice of bundling the toolbar with each security update of the JRE, even going so far as requiring the user to opt-out of the installation of the potentially unwanted additional piece of software.

To avoid this, do not download the "standard" ("Online") version of the JRE, but instead go here and install the "Windows x86 Offline" installer - once you installed this version for the first time, future downloads will also exclude the toolbar. This is probably a particularly good idea if you are installing JRE for someone else who may not want to be nagged each time there is a new security patch.

Update [17-Oct-2014]: While the above "trick" no longer seems to work, Oracle have now added an option to the very bottom of their Java control panel's "Advanced" tab named "Suppress sponsor offerings when installing or updating Java". Check this, and you should be done - very useful if you are setting up a PC for someone else. See How-To Geek for more details.

In the German version, the option is called "Sponsorenangebote während der Installation oder Aktualisierung von Java unterdrücken".

Useful utilities

Here are some utilities that helped me out of a bind at least once...

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