Choosing a browser for CRM 2011

Anyone using CRM 2011 on-premises or Online can upgrade to Update Rollup 12 and get all the cross-browser goodness we waited for so long to get. Any new CRM Online organisation you start will have this already “baked in”. That means you can start using:

  • Firefox on Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8
  • Chrome on  Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8
  • Safari on Mac OSX 10.7 / 10.8
  • IE 8, 9 or 10

But! This comes at a small price – the deprecation of IE7. IE7 is no longer a supported browser for CRM 2011 going forward with the minor exception of IE7 on XP for CRM On-Premises only, and even that will be taken away at the Orion release (by which time support for XP will be at an end so I guess MS feel it is OK to start ignoring this not-insubstantial userbase at that point).

Why upgrade if I am happy with IE7?

Internet Explorer 8 is four years old today. If IE7 is what you are using four years after it was superceded, it’s time to upgrade and get a much smoother experience since the JavaScript engine in IE has improved dramatically over the last few versions, to compete well alongside Chrome which had fast JavaScript performance as one of the key reasons to switch when it first came out (better partitioning of security between sites / tabs in separate threads was another, and still is, but if your primary use of IE would be for CRM only, using another browser alongside for your ‘net surfing, then this is not a big deal really).

IPad seems to be missing from the list

iPad support at the moment is only for CRM Online, only for the “COLA” entities (Contact, Opportunity, Lead, Account), intended for using iPad for a sales lead to deal platform only at the stage. Other entities are rendered in the read-only forms, or you can use Mobile Express (as always) for editing.

Control supported browser list

You can also decide which browser environments you want your users to use, and warn them if they try to connect to CRM with something else – see this MSDN article on how to Control which browsers your organisation supports for details.

CRM 2011 Update rollup 7 and Read-optimised Forms

The latest hotfixes and updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are now available as update rollup 7. Knowledgebase article is here:

and downloads for all the software components are here: 

Read-Optimised Forms

The KB article above refers to a feature update in UR7 to provide “Read Optimized Forms”, which sounds very much like one of the minor features which was announced for the Q2 2012 service update, or release R8. This got a little bit buried in all the excitement about multi-browser and mobile capabilities, but essentially means you can deliver a faster experience to your users by providing them with a rapid-loading, reduced functionality, read-only form for entities which are often read and rarely updated. The Release Preview Guide published in February said this:

In many organizations there are groups of users who typically use a CRM system to look up key information about their contacts, accounts, opportunities and cases but have no immediate need to modify that information.

For example, many contact center employees or managers primarily use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to review business information before deciding whether any action is required. For these users the optimal experience is to load this information very quickly so they can immediately assess a situation and determine the correct course of action.

In order to provide this type of user experience, we’re introducing rapid view forms. The rapid view form is a read-only form that can be configured like any other form in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to display any record in the system.

When viewing information in these forms, users can switch to an editing experience with the click of a button. Administrators of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will have the option to set all forms to load in rapid view mode; if appropriate for business needs. Individual users will have the personal option to choose the form mode they prefer (Rapid View or Standard Edit).

At the moment (just after midnight UTC 22nd March) the links in the UR7 article which should point to more information about this new feature seem to redirect only to a generic page in the Resource Center and an MSDN SDK article about editing forms. From the latter article there is a link to another subsection “Design Considerations for Read-Only forms” which provides more details.

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Problem with unresponsive lookup field on CRM 2011 form

Recently had a minor problem with a form in CRM 2011 which I have resolved while trying to fix something else (isn’t that so often the way?).

Problem description / reproduction steps

I created a custom entity in CRM 2011 to use as a joining entity in a manual N:N relationship. In this scenario it was an “Attendance” record to link a Contact to an Event, and enable the business to track the status of the attendance (tentative, confirmed, attended, cancelled) along with relevant dates etc.

To reduce effort on the user’s part I made the primary “description” field on the record auto-filled based on the event and contact name, using jscript web resources. To observe sensible UI practice, I made sure the lookup fields came at the top of the form, then the description which was a result of those, so it should be obvious to the user what to fill in first, then by the time they get to the name field it is already filled in.

A blank new record form is shown below.

Attendance record blank screenshot

So, what went wrong?

When the user creates a new record, they expect to be able to get on with the job of typing in the fields. Although the Event or Contact was automatically filled in if they created the record from the context of the parent record to make life even easier, this still means that sometimes they needed to fill in one or the other field, and that’s where it got strange.

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CRM 2011 Update Rollup UR6 released

CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6 has been was temporarily withdrawn

The downloads for UR6 were down for a while but are now back up, showing a published date of 20th Jan 2012 and a build number of 5.0.9690.1992 as opposed to 5.0.9689.1985 as was the case when they were first released. All the links and URLs remain the same, only the actual files to download have changed.

Microsoft still have not published any official information that I can find as to why UR6 was removed from the download center, what faulty behaviour it had and how critical the issue was.

“Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”

My recommendation if you already installed the redacted UR6 for the Outlook client is to uninstall the CRM client completely and re-install. It seems happy to keep configuration settings and evens saved credentials (eg for CRM online) so this is relatively painless and much more certain to work.

I previously tried just running setup over the top and was asked if I wanted to uninstall or repair the app, so I chose ‘repair’ but on checking in the Outlook client under File > CRM > About Microsoft Dynamics CRM it still showed the old build number, so I was not convinced this worked very well.*

*your mileage may vary. If you have applied the new build over the top on the server or any other components I’d be grateful if you could share any useful information or experiences in the comments for others to benefit from.

Original and edited blog post…

What is in UR6 and where to download it

A very quick post to get people straight to the information and downloads:

The Support KB article 2600640 about CRM 2011 update rollup 6 and all the fixes included is here: Note: you can’t uninstall UR6

Downloads of the update rollups for server, router, clients, BIDS, MUI etc. are all here <edit> and are now all updated to build 5.0.9690.1992 :

If you have downloaded some of the updates and are not sure which ones you have, either go and download them again “just in case”, or if you have slow download speeds or limits on your total data volumes you could check the MD5 hashes first:

Outlook client UR6 32 bit (update only) has an MD5 hash of F537E8C3FF3FF1BA76028C07713B50F6, while the 64 bit client is 78CBBD33E035C9DDF5794F13B000243E.

Server is 64 bit only, and the MD5 is 1753B49EB935D051A4B319EFCC7265F3

Install and update ready-rolled

You can also get updated versions of the installation files with UR6 “slipstreamed” in so you can install in new deployments in one step rather than two.

Outlook clients with UR6 built-in can be downloaded here: (don’t forget you need the 32bit i386 or 64 bit AMD64 version to match your Office install, not your OS version). MD5 hash for 32 bit version which most people are probably looking to install is 426EBAB49CEA5EDEE0018DEB137AB09C

Download Dynamics CRM 2011 server with UR6 built in:

Build number should be 5.0.9690.1992 after you have installed things.

If you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and download the Outlook client today <edit: this is what I wrote on 12th January when the update was first released>, this is already at UR6 (just in time for go live on my current project as it happens!). For on premises or existing installations, install the UR6 update files or wait for them to come out via Windows Update on January 24th.

<edit: this date has not been changed in the KB article since the re-release of the new build, so it seems like this is still on track>

Happy Rollups!

Just for the record…

Earlier I updated this post because UR6 was pulled for a while, so just for posterity and to make sure any readers have the full picture and are not confuzled, here’s what that edited bit said:

A possible problem seems to have arisen with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 UR6 and the downloads have been withdrawn from the download centre pending further investigation by Microsoft so the URLs in this blog post do not currently work.

If you have already downloaded UR6 the advice is to not install this and await a later re-release before installing. Since UR6 cannot be uninstalled (other than completely uninstalling CRM 2011 this is a bit of a blow if you have already gone ahead with it, but hopefully the fixed version will be able to install over the top.

According to the article on the “CRM in the Field” blog this affects the Outlook client, so it may turn out not to be an issue for the server or other components:

“A Microsoft CRM 2011 Client for Microsoft Outlook issue has surfaced, and the Update Rollup 6 packages for Client and Server are being temporarily removed from the Microsoft Download Center pending our investigation. Please hold off on downloading Update Rollup 6 until new packages are available.

If you have downloaded UR6 packages for any components, please discard them and wait for an update on our investigation and the release of new packages.  If you have installed them, please note that the issue appears to be related to Outlook Client sync and prepare to install a newer build when it is available.”

CRM 2011 Update rollup 3 released

Update rollup 3 is here, and contains lots of little fixes for things you may not even have known were wrong! Some of these are more important than others, but overall at this stage of the product lifecycle it is not surprising that many are things which simply had not been spotted during beta testing until people start to stress the system with real world use, and deploy in a much wider variety of complex environments.

Where to get it

The main information page is KB article 2547347 Update Rollup 3 for Dynamics CRM 2011, and the downloads can be found at download centre page 26912 CRM 2011 UR3 for servers and clients. The update will also be available via Windows Update and therefore also ready to deploy via WSUS on August 9th (or possibly 23rd, since both dates are shown on the KB page). Read more about what’s in Update Rollup 3 »

Office 2010 Service Pack 1 – sp1 download available

Office 2010 logoLast month I wrote about the planned availability of Service Pack 1 for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 for the end of June. And it’s here!

You can now download the whole service pack file as a self-extracting executable and simply run it to install, or you can use Windows Update, where it is listed as an Important/High Priority update (rather than critical or security) for you to manually install (after 90 days this will change to an automatic update if your system is configured for that). At the moment my 32 bit install claims this would take 409 MB via Windows Update compared with only 361 MB for the full exe package download.

Even if you only have 1 machine to do, you will save marginally on the file size if you manually download Office 2010 sp1, and then of course you will have the file to use again on any other machines that need it – if like me you are the de facto IT support for family and friends, this can be quite useful.

A few key changes relating to other products are that Outlook 2010 sp1 will fully support the now-released Office 365 online business applications suite, while SharePoint 2010 will support SQL 2011 and has improved support for users of Internet Explorer 9.

So, there’s lots of information about this important update, as well as the downloads themselves, so let’s dive straight in with a load of links to the things you probably want to get hold of straight away.
Find out more about Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 service pack 1 downloads, resources, and information »

SharePoint and Office 2010 Service Pack 1 announced


The Office Sustained Engineering blog has an announcement that Service Pack 1 for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 is on track for release at the end of June.

As you might expect, this will include a roll up all previous patches and cumulative updates, as well some minor feature changes.

Update 28th June 2011: It’s here!

Read all about it and find links to all sorts of information and resources: Office 2010 sp1 available for download

Change to Outlook reminders dialogue

One of the changes declared for Service Pack 1 will be to revert the behaviour of the reminders window in Outlook 2010 back to the way it worked in 2007 thanks to sustained pressure from various contributors on the Microsoft Answers forums.

In Outlook 2007 when you snooze a reminder it remembers how long you snoozed that item for, and next time it comes up that is the default time chosen so you can very easily hit snooze again for the same delay. Each item (calendar entry, task or follow up) remembers it’s own interval so you can snooze a meeting later today maybe 15 minutes at a time, but a reminder about a conference next month a whole day at a time.

Outlook 2010 changed this behaviour so that each time you snooze any item, the time interval chosen is remembered for the next item as well, which means some people found they had to keep changing this back and forth between different values, and might snooze something for too long without realising – possibly ending up being late for that important meeting for example. Service Pack 1 will switch this behaviour back to the 2007 method, and it sounds like this will just happen, rather than providing the user with any option to choose which approach works better for them.

Which way would you prefer this to work? Let us know via the comments.

No news on Outlook 2010 holiday errors

For over a year now people using Outlook 2010 have been able to add public holidays for their country, with the slight problem that many of these holidays have several errors in at least 23 countries around the world . I have actually seen some people report the problem and offer fixes for it which still contain some of the incorrect dates, or “corrections” which introduce different faults.

Hopefully Microsoft will stick to their plan of including fixes in the service pack to finally address this problem, but there is no detail available on this yet, but we’ll update this with any news when it arrives.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 arrives to little fanfare

Maybe it’s just me, but the release of service pack 1 for Windows 7 ought to be a fairly big deal, but because this release coincides with sp1 for Server 2008 R2, the message seems to been a little lost and garbled.

In a TechNet flash email I received this week, entitled “Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 SP1 Arrives” the only reference to a service pack was this:

“Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 is ready with new virtualization tools, web resources, management enhancements, and Windows 7 integration.”

Not a resoundingly clear message about Windows 7 sp1 availability. So I checked my Windows updates which had a handful of Office things, the usual Malicious Software Removal tool update and a couple of vaguely worded items which I included as well. No service pack to be seen. Next step, search engine!

Read on to find out how to download and install Windows 7 service pack 1 (fairly) painlessly»

Outlook 2010 has incorrect holidays for UK and many other countries

Quick background information to bring you up to speed: You can add national holidays for your country to your Outlook calendar so they remind you not to go to work that day. Unfortunately Microsoft sometimes get the details wrong for one or two places, but in the case of Outlook 2010 at least 23 countries have incorrect dates for some of their holidays.

In this article I will describe some of the errors, list corrected dates and provide links to files I have prepared with the fixes already in to save you some typing. I have also posted a separate article about adding and removing holidays from your Outlook calendar, rather than making this one even longer with a great big discussion about the mechanics of doing this.


When you add holidays to Outlook, they are read in from a specially formatted text file, formerly outlook.txt, now (since 2002?) renamed to outlook.hol but essentially the same thing. This contains sections for various countries and a couple of religions, so that you can easily choose the ones you are interested in. This approach has a couple of limitations but some upsides too:

  • each holiday is specified as a single date, so even things which have on obvious recurrence pattern must be included several times for different years, which means only a limited number are included in the interests of file size
  • it is hugely subject to human error, as we will see
  • when there are errors, at least you can easily fix them by editing the file or replacing it with one someone else has done (like me)
  • you can add extra sections for “countries” you want to include, such as for a special interest group, or additional company holidays (such as winter shutdown periods)

Outlook 2010 errors

The version of the outlook.hol file which shipped with Outlook 2010 final version (RTM) has some serious flaws in it, affecting at least 23 countries as far as I can see (basically most of Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand), and likely many others I have not been able to identify. As I mentioned above, because of the way this file is used, this is relatively easy to fix as it is not an actual bug in the program, but is still very annoying, especially for anybody that has already imported the incorrect holidays.

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Outlook client for CRM 4 with rollup 10

MS Dynamics logo

Finally Microsoft have released a client installation package with a recent rollup already included in the package (“slipstreamed”). Unfortunately, nearly 4 weeks after the release of update rollup 11 it is only rollup 10 that is included. While this is a move forward from the rollup 7 client that was available, it still means that most people are going to need to install the client and then immediately apply a patch to UR11, so it is probably of limited help really. Thanks but no thanks.

Get the new CRM 4.0 client for Outlook with Update Rollup 10 if you are using the on-premise or partner-hosted (“service provider”) versions of CRM. If you are using CRM online you are stuck with installing the original version of the special online client and patching it yourself. Note: CRM on-demand from Microsoft is only available in the US and Canada despite the announcement back in April about worldwide release, because it seems that will only be for the next release, version 5 available later this year.

Hat tip to The CRM Business for the original heads-up on this one.

How Vista file copy has improved with sp1

Mark Russinovich is very well known within the technical community as an authority on detailed information on the inner workings of Microsoft products. Author of several books including the Windows resource kit “Windows Internals” volume, and founder of Winternals and, he is now a Technical Fellow in the Platform and Services Division at Microsoft.

In a recent blog post, Mark explains in great detail the file copy process in Vista, why it changed radically from XP and how this impacted real and perceived performance of this basic function. He goes on to explain how some of this has been changed and remedied in Vista Service Pack 1. He makes it clear that some of the code design choices have to be compromises between making things faster in different situations, and that in most cases Vista <> Server 2008 filecopying will be faster using the chosen algorithms than they would be with different choices, or using XP or server 2003 for example.

Copying a file seems like a relatively straightforward operation: open the source file, create the destination, and then read from the source and write to the destination. In reality, however, the performance of copying files is measured along the dimensions of accurate progress indication, CPU usage, memory usage, and throughput. In general, optimizing one area causes degradation in others. Further, there is semantic information not available to copy engines that could help them make better tradeoffs. For example, if they knew that you weren’t planning on accessing the target of the copy operation they could avoid caching the file’s data in memory, but if it knew that the file was going to be immediately consumed by another application, or in the case of a file server, client systems sharing the files, it would aggressively cache the data on the destination system.

The article is also a useful working example of how Process Monitor can help you to see what your machine is really up to. On the same subject, Mark gave a great Tech Ed presentation in Barcelona with some real-world demonstrations of how to use a variety of Sysinternals tools and utilities to detect, find and fix all sorts of system issues. A video of that talk entitled “The Case of the Unexplained…Live!” can be viewed here (it’s just over an hour long).

Internet Explorer 7 automatic installation via WSUS today

You may find that your XP and Server 2003 machines running Internet Explorer 6 are upgraded to version 7 today if you have a certain set of things in place:

  • You use WSUS to manage updates in your organization.
  • You have Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2)-based computers or Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1)-based computers that have Internet Explorer 6 installed.
  • You have configured WSUS to auto-approve Update Rollups for installation (this is not the default configuration)

If for some reason you do not want to install Internet Explorer 7 (such as it causes problems with an intranet or extranet application) then you need to take some remedial action to prevent this installation from taking place. Read on to find out how to check if this will happen and stop it if this is not what you want.

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Vista Service Pack 1 gets the green light

Vista’s much-awaited service pack 1 has had the go-ahead and is “released to manufacturing” (RTM). This means they can start pressing CD’s and get things moving through distribution channels, OEM and retail so people will soon be able to buy the product with sp1 built in (“slipstreamed”).

Read more about the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista here. The short version is that it won’t be available to actually download until mid-March

One of the benefits likely to get most press will be the changes to how Microsoft enforce their licencing through the “Windows Genuine Advantage” (WGA) programme which requires the software to be activated in order to continue using the full functionality. This has been held back from all the beta versions and will only take effect in the final released version. Paul Thurrott discusses this at his SuperSite for Windows:

First, Microsoft is disabling the two most common exploits that exist today for bypassing product activation in Vista … Pirate Windows users utilizing one of these hacks will see their systems return to the intended state–typically a grace period countdown–once SP1 is installed.

The second change is more dramatic. … If the product activation period expires, for example, Vista moves into Reduced Functionality Mode (RFM), where the user can only access the IE Web browser for 60 minutes at a time before being logged out; … Non-Genuine State (NGS), occurs when an activated copy of Vista fails a Web-based validation check, such as when you attempt to download software from the Microsoft Web site. In this case, certain features–like Windows Aero and ReadyBoost–are completely disabled, while others–like Windows Update and Windows Defender–work in limited ways only.

Beginning with SP1, RFM and NGS are a thing of the past.

Improvements to the software itself generally focus on performance and stability, but it does also improve on driver support and providing better APIs for third-party products such as anti-virus and desktop search (partly due to complaints that vendors were being “locked out” and could not develop products on an equal footing with Microsoft themselves).

One area which should be much better is the slow copying of files (even within a disk) which has plagued some systems. I will run some test copies of sets of large and small files and once I have the service pack installed I’ll post some results on how much performance gain I get.

Windows XP service pack 3 Release Candidate available

The release candidate (RC) of Service Pack 3 (sp3) for Windows XP is now available for download – well it has been for a few weeks in fact. This should represent a pretty close similarity to the final “RTM” version, but do remember this is still strictly speaking a beta version so some third-party applications may not work 100%. Don’t install on a critical machine, and ideally not even an important one unless you are sure you are confident enough to roll it back if necessary. If your line of business application won’t work, or your firewall locks up your machine you may wish you hadn’t installed it after all.

So, what’s the point of this service pack?

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Hardening Windows Systems – Roberta Bragg

Author: Roberta Bragg. CISSP, MCSE: Security, Security+Publisher: McGraw Hill / Osborne

Suggested Publisher Price: $39.99 US / $57.95 CDN / £24.99 UK

ISBN: 0-07-225354-1 Softcover, 504 pages

Hardening Windows Systems book cover

Bulletproof your systems before you are hacked!

Take a proactive approach to network security by hardening your Windows systems against attacks before they occur. Written by security evangelist Roberta Bragg, this hands-on resource provides concrete steps you can take immediately as well as ongoing actions to ensure long-term security. Whether you have one Windows server or one hundred, you’ll get complete details on how to systematically harden your network from the ground up, as well as strategies for getting company-wide support for your security plan. With coverage of Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/2000/XP and Windows Server 2003, this book is an essential security tool for on-the-job IT professionals.

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Excel 2007 calculation bug fix released after two weeks

A fix for the Excel 2007 calculation bug affecting results around 65535 and 65536 has been released in the last few hours. The Excel team blog post says:

As of today, fixes for this issue in Excel 2007 and Excel Services 2007 are available for download…We are in the process of adding this fix to Microsoft Update so that it will get automatically pushed to users running Excel 2007 or Excel Services 2007.  Additionally, the fix will also be contained in the first service pack of Office 2007 when it is released (the release date for SP1 of Office 2007 has not been finalized).

Microsoft knowledgebase article KB943075 discusses the fix and gives the usual details for what versions and sizes the updated files should have after the fix. The version number of Excel.exe is altered from 12.0.6024.5000 to 12.0.6042.5000. Now read that again – yes, easy to miss the difference from ’24’ to ’42’ if you look too quickly. (NB: you may have a different version, mine is at 12.0.6024 after installing the security update as per KB936509, as far as I can tell.)

The download for the fix for Excel 2007 (33Mb exe file) is linked from the Excel team blog as well as from the KB article. The blog post also has links for Excel Services 2007, both 32 bit and 64 bit.

More bad news for Vista Service pack 1

Apart from the long wait for a service pack for Vista (over a year from initial release) and the hugely bloated size of the “stand-alone” option to apply the service pack to machines without connecting them to the internet, I just learned some bad news.

David Overton posted an article about what’s coming in the first service pack for Vista. In it he links to and quotes this BetaNews article which says:

the service pack will uninstall the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) and GPEdit.msc will edit local Group Policy by default

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Patching XP and Vista with Service Packs and Hotfix "rollups"

In the last few days a couple of contradictory things seem to have happened:

  • Everyone and his dog seems to have blogged about the release dates for Vista service pack 1 and separately XP service pack 3 -both in 2008
  • Microsoft seem to have requested that the popular patching utility “AutoPatcher” be taken down and no longer distributed.

Ironically, I started reading an excellent post on Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen blog about his favourite Windows tools and utilities for developers and power users, updated for 2007. He posted this on 23rd August. I started to follow and download several of the applications he linked, in some cases to do something new, in others to see how they stacked up against tools I already used. I was still downloading today, when I found that one of his links, to AutoPatcher, showed me this page

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9 patches from MS for August Patch Tuesday

This is the August Advance Notification bulletin about the Microsoft patches which are due on the next patch Tuesday on 14th August 2007.

On the security updates list there are 6 critical updates and 3 important ones. One of the updates is for Office, and is deemed critical for Office 2000 but only important for Office 2003 (and interestingly also Excel viewer 2003).

What’s really odd is this bit:

Non-Security, High-Priority Updates on MU, WU, WSUS and SUS

For this month:

  • Microsoft is planning to release four non-security, high-priority updates on Microsoft Update (MU) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).
  • Microsoft is planning to release two non-security, high-priority updates for Windows on Windows Update (WU) and Software Update Services (SUS).

Yes, that’s right, despite saying that SUS was now definitely end of life as of 10th July it looks like they are still releasing patches for it to use. Even back in January they were releasing some patches through MU and WSUS only (not WU and SUS). Maybe they found too many people were simply not getting patched properly.

Vista updates available for performance and compatibility

There are a couple of updates which have been released for Vista which are outside the WSUS infrastructure (or rather they don’t seem to show up as updates at the moment). KB938194 is a compatibility and reliability update and KB938979 is supposed to improve performance and reliability. Essentially the first one fixes a variety of seemingly unrelated things to do with stability and things which fail or stop completely, while the second is more about things which just take a lot longer than they should. There are 64 bit versions available as well here and here.