What the heck was that?

June 23, 2017

I fix computers and clean up computers for a living. I’m used to seeing popups from malicious software and infected web browsers. But this last two weeks has been a wild ride, with rogue popups from legitimate programs. Here’s how to kill the Amazon Assistant and tame the Office update window.

 

Amazon Assistant is less than helpful

Several customers reached out to me in the last couple of weeks about a Windows 10 app called Amazon Assistant. I don’t know who updated what — Microsoft of Amazon — but something went haywire with this app, and it’s not easy to get rid of it.

As soon as Windows loaded, dozens of windows popped up all over the screen with error messages for the Amazon Assistant. People were alarmed, as this is exactly the kind of behaviour we see when a computer is infected.

Technically, this isn’t an infection. It’s just a huge annoyance made more annoying by the fact that you have to outwit the app to uninstall it.

You should be able to open the Start Menu, right-click on the Amazon Assistant app, and then click Uninstall. But for some reason there’s often no Uninstall choice available. If you have that choice, clicking on it takes you to the new Apps and Features area of Settings.

But even there, as my colleague at Bluebird Business Consulting pointed out, the Uninstall and Modify choices are greyed out. You can’t get rid of it here, either.

What we need is the good old-fashioned Control Panel, where we can still uninstall things they way we used to in the good old Windows XP days! But in Control Panel, there’s no Uninstall choice for this little devil. The only choice we have is “Change.”

Select Amazon Assistant and click on Change. Follow the prompts and a couple screens in you will — finally — have a choice to Uninstall. Do it!

Honestly, there’s no excuse for this. This thing acts like malicious software.

If you want to keep it from coming back:

  • Right-click on an empty spot on your Taskbar
  • Click on Task Manager | Startup
  • If you see the Amazon Assistant, select it, and click on Disable

Strange but true: I’ve only seen this problem on Acer computers which were upgraded to Windows 10 Creators Update. That doesn’t mean the rest of us won’t have this problem at some point, but right now it seems to be hitting Acers hard.

 

Those May Office Updates were interesting

 Last month’s Windows Updates for Office 2016 created a confusing problem. I have a fast computer so I didn’t notice it right away, but after those updates, Office started opening a Command window in the background and quickly closing it. Every. Single. Hour.

What the heck?

Apparently, it’s checking for … what? More Updates?

Here’s how to stop that.

  • Click on Start | Windows Administrative Tools | Task Scheduler
  • In Task Scheduler click on Office
  • Select OfficeBackgroundTaskHandlerRegistration
  • In the right-hand pane, click on Disable

That will stop it, and you will still get your Office updates through Windows Update. What on earth were they thinking? This might have been corrected in June. If you’re not seeing that black window open and close, you’re one of the lucky ones, and you don’t need to worry about this.

 

Links

Bluebird Business Consulting https://www.businessbluebird.com/
Computer Care Kelowna http://computercarekelowna.com/
Getting Along With Your Computer Column Archives http://www.castanet.net/news/Getting-Along-With-Your-Computer/
Get Cate’s column by email http://eepurl.com/cqhaTL
RSS Feed: http://computercarekelowna.com/feed

 

© Cate Eales 2017 – All Rights Reserved
This column appeared on Castanet June 26, 2017

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