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date 8.Oct.2020

■ Enough with this DaftSmartScreen already!

You know how it is, you are a small developer trying to make a honest living, play by the rules, but they won't give you a break. In question Microsoft Widows Defender SmartScreen filter, that supposedly blocks bad programs getting into your PC. Fair enough, but what is this "xplorer2_setup64.exe is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer" warning all about? Why is something downloaded less than a million times a day all of a sudden suspect? Does it contain coronavirus? Virustotal thinks it's all safe

Problems for zabkat started last March when I had to renew my code signing certificate. Whereas my old signature was trusted by SmartScreen, the renewal process wiped out all trustworthiness, even if nothing has changed in the website or signature details. (Perhaps they don't trust Cypriots as much as Londoners?). I was expecting the hiccup to last a few days/weeks, as the trust was re-built with people downloading xplorer². However, it is now 7 months down the road and still every time I release a new xplorer² build, SmartScreen filter complains about the installer's digital signature all over again.

Business is slow with this coronavirus outbreak (unless you sell face masks :) so I don't need any further disruption for no good reason. Imagine if you never heard of xplorer² and then first thing after downloading you were hit by nasty warnings like "xplorer2_setup64.exe was blocked because it could harm your device" — most probably you would ran away and delete the program, no? How can I make a living this way?

Thankfully existing customers know that xplorer² is not malware, and keep on installing it and reporting it as safe (thanks guys!) despite the silly Windows scaremongering. If you are a developer in a similar plight, it helps if you submit a Defender Smartscreen false positive report but sometimes they ignore it. Yesterday I re-submitted the new v4.5 installers and although the analysis came back as "all clean", the detection is still there. I will just keep on sending them reports until it gets straight. And imagine that ZabKat is an official microsoft partner! I wish they all get covid-19 and cough badly :)

ps. I managed to "gain reputation" on the code signing certificate by sending an email to mpcreply@microsoft.com (developers take note) so hopefully from now on you won't see any further smartscreen warnings. Most proably the change of address during renewal (from London tp Cyprus) made things worse. So the advice is, if you renew a certificate, keep all details the same!

■ How to install xplorer² bypassing SmartScreen warnings

If you know and trust xplorer² and zabkat, and realize that "not commonly downloaded" is a silly warning anyway, here are the steps to install it bypassing all the warnings. It all depends which webbrowser you use; I provide instructions for MS edge and internet explorer, but the situation should be similar for other browsers too.
  1. Browse xplorer² download page and choose your version to download (professional or ultimate)
  2. Convince your browser's download engine to trust the download. If using IE, click on Save or Run buttons:
    internet explorer download warning
    For Edge browser, the warning is even nastier because it doesn't give you the real reason for blocking, it claims "it could harm your device":
    edge download warning
    Use the ... button and choose Keep from the menu. Then we have to face a similar warning in the download tab, at least now mentioning "not commonly downloaded" as the excuse. Click on Show more down arrow and then on Keep anyway (or even Report this app as safe if you want to do me a favor!)
    second edge download warning
  3. The final hurdle is actually running the installer, where you have to bypass the smart screen filter (Windows protected your PC) clicking on More info and then Run anyway:
    windows protected your PC

After all this you should have the brand new and improved xplorer² installed. Sorry about the trouble folks, I am doing everything I can here (it isn't much sadly). You can help by reporting xplorer² as safe, so thank you in advance for that.

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