• MS-DEFCON 2: Are you still on Windows 10 21H2?

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    ISSUE 20.23.1 • 2023-06-08

    By Susan Bradley

    We’re nearly halfway through the 2023 patching year, almost to the end of the road for Windows 10 21H2.

    But before we delve into that: Patch Tuesday is just around the corner, so it’s time to get conservative and defer patches. Accordingly, I’m raising the MS-DEFCON level to 2.

    Microsoft is indicating that it will “force” 21H2 machines to 22H2, but I have news for them — if you don’t have 22H2 and you are not using one of the methods to hold off on feature releases (Group Policy, registry key, etc.), chances are you have some sort of issue that is blocking the install. Some of the blocks may be driver-related, and some may be the result of underlying corruption in the code that handles patching.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.23.1, 2023-06-08).

  • June 2023 Office non-Security updates have been released

    The June 2023 Office non-Security updates have been released Tuesday, June 6, 2023. They are not included in the DEFCON-4 approval for the May 2022 patches. Unless you have a specific need to install them, you should wait until Susan Bradley (Patch Lady) approves them and any problems have been reported.

    Remember, Susan’s patching sequence and recommendations are based on a business environment that has IT support and may have time constraints on the updating process. Consumer patching should be more cautious due to limited technical and mechanical resources. The latter is the reason for the AskWoody DEFCON system.

    Office 2013
    Update for Microsoft Visio 2013 (KB5002343)

    Office 2016
    Update for Microsoft Office 2016 (KB5002308)
    Update for Microsoft Office 2016 (KB4011621)
    Update for Microsoft Visio 2016 (KB5002349)

    On April 10, 2018, Office 2013 reached End of Mainstream Support. Extended Support ended for Office 2013 on April 11, 2023.
    Office 2016 also reached  End of Mainstream Support on October 13, 2020. EOS for Office 2016 is October 14, 2025.

    Updates are for the .msi version (perpetual). Office 365 and C2R are not included.

    Security updates for all supported versions of Microsoft Office are released on the second Tuesday of the month (Patch Tuesday).

  • Can we control the changes to our operating systems?

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    ISSUE 20.23 • 2023-06-05


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    I grew up on television shows such as Bewitched, in which Samantha, the character played by Elizabeth Montgomery, could just wiggle her nose and things would do what she wanted them to do.

    Until something went wrong, that is, and she’d have to explain to Darrin that, well, things didn’t quite go as planned.

    Sometimes updating Windows is like that.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.23.0, 2023-06-05).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Watch out for fake ‘Windows Defender’ scare


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    My readers are reporting a new wave of fraudulent “security warnings” that freeze the screen, threaten to auto-delete users’ files, exhort victims to call what is supposedly a Microsoft phone number, and demand a fee for useless “virus removal.”

    Bogus messages from “Microsoft,” “Google,” and every other famous name in the tech industry are as old as the Internet, of course. But the frauds seem to be getting more intense and, unfortunately, more convincing all the time.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.23.0, 2023-06-05).

  • Diagnostics and testing? Get it all done in a flash.


    Ben Myers

    By Ben Myers

    Bootable USB flash drives are wonderful for doing many different software tasks when working on computers, but year by year they pile up.

    I needed to rid myself of my dependency on the many bootable flash drives I have collected in the last few years, by putting the most frequently used software on a single flash drive.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.23.0, 2023-06-05).

  • Dip your toe into Visio Online


    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    I’m going to introduce you to Visio Online which is, in effect, Visio Jr. It’s available to most people with a Microsoft work or school plan.

    Visio for the desktop is very powerful and can seem scary, with all manner of features and connections to databases — and a price tag to match. None of this applies to Visio Online.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.23.0, 2023-06-05).

  • Desktop or Laptop? What’s your choice?

    When you get to that point in time when either your Apple or Windows computer needs to be upgraded, sometimes it’s better to start over and buy a new computer. But then the question comes — Desktop style or Laptop style?

    Typically desktops are more expandable in the long run, easier to upgrade hard drives, memory, etc. But laptops are more portable. These days with either a USB (or USB C) docking station you can also have multiple monitors.

    Me, personally?  I have both here at home as both have their role. If I want to type up an newsletter column while enjoying nice weather outside, clearly a desktop won’t do. But if I’m working from home, or need a better monitor setup, for sure it’s a Desktop with a normal keyboard, normal mouse and the whole setup.

    In the Apple ecosystem, it comes down to cost.  I can purchase a MacMini and enter the Mac ecosystem at the cheapest price.

    So what’s your preference? And why?

  • Beware of Google’s .ZIP domain and password-embedded URLs

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    ISSUE 20.22 • 2023-05-29


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    The security community is up in arms, because Google this month started selling domain names with deceptive endings such as .zip and .mov.

    Even worse, some browsers are allowing usernames and passwords to be embedded into URLs. This means following a link can expose users to viruses without any explicit action (such as clicking “OK”).

    Internet-standards bodies years ago prohibited usernames and passwords in URLs — but hackers still do it.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.22.0, 2023-05-29).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Longstanding feature requests, and their status


    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    We’ve been waiting a long time for the OneNote features promised in 2019.

    I asked Microsoft to tell us what’s coming when.

    The very first time I heard about OneNote, at a press briefing for Office 2003, I saw how useful it would be — but there were also some things that I thought wouldn’t work. I went over to talk to Microsoft’s Chris Pratley and spent the next 20 minutes trapping him in a corner between the wall and the lunch table, making suggestions and asking for changes, before a PR person tactfully extracted him.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.22.0, 2023-05-29).

  • Three typing tutors — no more “hunt and peck”


    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    Let’s face it, life is too short to be taking 30 minutes to type out an email or a witty Facebook rebuttal.

    Today, I’m going to show you three best-of-the-best — and absolutely free — typing tutors. Each one is a bit different, and each one has some pretty nifty features. So sorry, Mavis Beacon. You’ve always been a nice lady, but you are getting expensive! There is always a free alternative.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.22.0, 2023-05-29).

  • Is online banking secure?


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Over the past few years, banks have been increasing their online footprint.

    From mobile banking with cell phones to remote depositing with check scanners, banking has drastically changed. Some of the changes are forced on us due to the changing hours of operation at our local banks, but some of the changes enhance our ability to get our funds where we want them to be.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.22.0, 2023-05-29).

  • Are you ready for AI?

    The Microsoft BUILD conference is over and they will be adding AI to well…. everything.  As usual while Microsoft will be … well Microsoft. We’ll be ensuring that we can tame and make the technology what you want it to be.

    If you don’t want AI in Edge now, you can start with the basics such as blocking the request to change the default browser to Edge and the default search engine to Bing. This setting as noted in Edge policies can be set via group policy or Intune. Additional settings include to block the Bing Chat AI from the Windows 11 search. To disable Bing Chat AI from the Search field on the taskbar press the Windows key and open Settings, or use the Windows key + I shortcut to open it directly. Now click Privacy & security from the left panel scroll down to the Windows permissions section and click on Search permissions from the list. Scroll down to the More settings section and toggle off the Show search highlights option. The Bing Chat AI icon will no longer appear in the search field.

    For those that use group policy there is a new Group Policy setting to disable the bing chat icon, and this setting was added with Windows 11 21H2 administrative templates. You must download the ADMX Templates for Windows 11 October 2021 Update [21H2] from the Official Microsoft Download Center. You’ll want to copy the files from from C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions on a Windows 11 computer to your central policy store.  Navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Component\Chat. Find “Configures the Chat icon on the taskbar“.

    Bottom line, don’t worry, we’ll keep you aware of all the tips and tricks to tame your operating system so it won’t go “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Stay tuned. we’re have more in the newsletter as Microsoft showcases the changes. Previews will be coming in June.

    I’d also like to wish everyone in the United States a great Memorial Day holiday.  To everyone who has served, thank you.