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  • Pssssst… I still don’t believe the part about Microsoft testing 20H1, then jumping back to 19H2

    Posted on February 15th, 2019 at 08:14 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I’ve read the reviews, seen the posts, and I still don’t believe it.

    Dona Sarkar said yesterday:

    Today we are releasing a new build to Insiders who have opted into Skip Ahead. These builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is “nearly finished and ready” we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.

    In a world of truly absurd Windows beta testing, that’s even more absurd than normal.

    I honestly don’t think we’ll end up with a 19H2. None at all. If Microsoft’s smart, they’ll move to 20H1 and dump this absurd every-six-month release rate. I know the arguments. I know that Office gets new versions every six months. But Windows ain’t Office. And it shouldn’t be hobbled with the same release cycle.

    I’m still hopeful that 19H2 will go the way of the dodo.

  • Win10 updating terminology is changing again – but this time maybe it’s tied to a major improvement

    Posted on February 14th, 2019 at 19:06 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    In retrospect, I’m not convinced the terminology change is tied to anything worthwhile.

    Details in Computerworld Woody on Windows.

    Here’s my earlier, rosier take…..



    At least I have my fingers crossed.

    First, John Wilcox announced on the Windows IT Pro blog:

    IF YOU USE WINDOWS UPDATE FOR BUSINESS: Beginning with Windows 10, version 1903 (the next feature update for Windows 10), the Windows 10 release information page will no longer list SAC-T [Semi-Annual Channel Targeted] information for version 1903 and future feature updates. Instead, you will find a single entry for each new SAC release. In addition, if you are using Windows Update for Business, you will see new UI and behavior to reflect that there is only one release date for each SAC release. If you use System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), or other management tools, there will now only be one feature update published to WSUS, and this will occur at the time of release.

    That’s a major change to the meaning of SAC-T. I’ve long used the promotion of a Win10 version to SAC (from SAC-T) as an indication that it may be ready, in a few months, to install. Wilcox shows a screenshot of the new Win10 version 1903 Windows Update Advanced options pane, and it’s substantially different from what we’re seeing now.

    Reason to be cynical – Oh gawd, they changed the terminology again.

    Reason to be hopeful – maybe this means that when a new Win10 version is released it’ll be, you know, tested.

    Combine that with more unexpected news. People in the Windows Insider Program Skip Ahead ring were expecting to start testing version 19H2 (for lack of a better term, probably destined to become Win10 version 1909). But earlier today, Microsoft released Skip Ahead build 18336. According to Dona Sarkar and Brandon LeBlanc:

    These builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is “nearly finished and ready” we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.

    Which is an incredibly convoluted way to run a beta program, unless….

    … unless the talk of 19H2 is a smokescreen, and Microsoft’s finally going to start releasing new versions of Win10 every year.

    Hey, a guy can hope.

  • Fred Langa: How do I unfreeze my laptop? I’ve pressed ctrl-shift-del but it did not work

    Posted on February 14th, 2019 at 06:56 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    You’d be surprised how few people know that they may need to take the battery out… if they can…

    More words of classic wisdom from Fred Langa on his web site.

  • Miscellaneous, minor problems with the Patch Tuesday patches

    Posted on February 13th, 2019 at 08:30 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So far the patching situation looks pretty good. Mind you, we’re still at MS-DEFCON 2, and unless you’re using Internet Explorer, there’s nothing lurking in the depths – so don’t patch yet. Yes, there were 20 “critical” patches. No, you don’t need to worry about them yet.

    When the patches first came out, the Knowledge Base articles had all sorts of strange omissions. They were fixed yesterday afternoon/evening US time. So now we know officially:

    • The Win10 1803 cumulative update fixed the problem where Edge was trying to get to local IP addresses – a bug most commonly reported with routers. KB 4487017 now says this cumulative update “Addresses an issue that prevents Microsoft Edge from connecting using an IP address.”
    • All of the Windows patches — Win7 thru Win10 1809 are now admitted to have yet another Japanese date bug: “previously abbreviated Japanese date and time strings no longer parse.” We’re talking a tough computer science problem here.

    The KB articles for Win10 1809, 1803 and 1709 say they have fixed the Access 97-era Jet database bug. “Addresses an issue that may prevent applications that use a Microsoft Jet database with the Microsoft Access 97 file format from opening. This issue occurs if the database has column names greater than 32 characters. The database fails to open with the error, “Unrecognized Database Format”.”

    There’s an odd report from Johnny_55 on the Microsoft Answers forum (thanks, Julia!):

    After installing KB4487044 [the Win10 1809 cumulative update], it disabled Windows Defender leaving it with the Red X, and not possible to scan. This was never an issue prior with any CU installed on Retail 17763. Putting it back online, updating and back working.

    Jack Smook, reporting on the Microsoft Answers forum, said:

    Updates (KB4487044) downloaded ok to 2 computers, but during installation, they both got an error message… We couldn’t complete the updates / Undoing changes / Don’t turn your computer off…

    Two folks who identified themselves as “Independent Advisors… here to help you with your question” gave advice. Both apparently resulted in BSODs.

    And there’s the usual expletive-laced posting of problems on Reddit.

    @abbodi86 notes that there was no Office 2010 Click-to-Run released. Likely culprit: Japanese date bugs.

    Anybody spot other notable bugs?

  • Patch Tuesday patches start rolling out

    Posted on February 12th, 2019 at 12:14 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Martin Brinkmann is out with his usual monthly overview

    • Windows 7: 24 vulnerabilities of which 3 are rated critical and 21 are rated important.
    • Windows 8.1: 25 vulnerabilities of which 3 are rated critical and 22 are rated important.
    • Windows 10 version 1709: 29 vulnerabilities of which 3 are critical and 26 are important
    • Windows 10 version 1803: 29 vulnerabilities of which 3 are critical and 26 are important
    • Windows 10 version 1809: 28 vulnerabilities of which 3 are critical and 25 are important

    All versions of Windows, all versions of Server, Edge, IE, Office, .NET, and much more.

    May the odds be forever in your.. oh, nevermind.

    Dustin Childs has his Zero Day Initiative post – always good reading.

    …security patches for 77 CVEs along with three new advisories.

    Of these 74 CVEs, 20 are rated Critical, 54 are rated Important, and three are rated Moderate in severity. A total of 21 of these CVEs came through the ZDI program. Four of these bugs are listed as public and one is listed as being under active attack at the time of release.

    The actively exploited vulnerability:

    An attacker could use this to check for files on a target system if a user browses [with Internet Explorer] to a specially crafted website. Microsoft doesn’t list how this bug is being exploited in the wild, but it’s likely restricted to targeted attacks.

    And of course you aren’t using IE. Right?

    There are new Servicing Stack Updates for:
    Win10 v1607  KB 4485447
    Win10 v1703  KB 4487327
    Win10 v1709  KB 4485448
    Win10 v1803  KB 4485449
    Servicing stack updates only count if you manually install the Windows 10 cumulative updates. And, of course, you followed my Block Monday advice and wouldn’t dream of installing any patches, much less manually install Win10 cumulative updates.
    February 2019 Security Updates for Microsoft Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016, the Office Viewers, and SharePoint Servers are available on the Office Support Pages. These Updates are for the .msi versions of Office, not Office 365 or C2R.
  • Microsoft (finally!) acknowledges a bug in Win7 virtual machines after installing the January Monthly Rollup KB 4480963 or Security-only KB 4480964

    Posted on February 12th, 2019 at 09:51 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Shout-out to Lounger Freeco, who first notified us of the bug almost two weeks ago.

    The KB articles now say:

    After installing this update, virtual machines may fail to restore after being “Saved and Restored” the first time. The error message is, “Failed to restore the virtual machine state: Cannot restore this virtual machine because the saved state data cannot be read. Delete the saved state data and then try to start the virtual machine. (0xC0370027).”

    This affects AMD Bulldozer Family 15h, AMD Jaguar Family 16h, and AMD Puma Family 16h (2nd-gen) microarchitectures.


    After installing this update, shut down the virtual machines before restarting the host.

    Microsoft is working on a resolution and estimates a solution will be available by mid-February 2019.

    Which presumably means it’ll be fixed in today’s Win7 Monthly Rollup.

  • Seattle had….

    Posted on February 12th, 2019 at 04:08 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    It’s supposed to turn to rain today. Just what Redmond needs…

  • Patch lady – Make sure your 1099s are private

    Posted on February 11th, 2019 at 22:31 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A bit off topic to patching – and very much USA centric at this time.  I’ll urge you to review your tax notices (or 1099s) (**) that you should have received – or are receiving – at this time.  Make sure that if they are mailed to you that your bank or sender has blanked out the tax identification number so that only the last four digits are listed.  Make sure that the entire social security number is not listed – especially if you get your tax documents emailed to you insecurely or mailed to you.

    I live in a neighborhood where the mailboxes are out on the street in unlocked mailboxes.  I have recently installed an alert on my mailbox that sends me a text message and email alert every time the door to my mailbox is opened.  Twice since I have installed it, I’ve seen people early in the morning and late at night go down the street opening the doors of the mailboxes obviously looking for tax documents and or refund checks.

    (On a geek note they use Amazon web services notification to send an email and text with the circuit of the magnet is broken when the door to the mailbox is open.  It hooks to my wifi so that I can get the alerts.  Obviously now I need to install a camera that can grab the car license number as someone opens the door to the mailbox as stealing mail is a crime.) 

    Also make sure anything emailed to you doesn’t include your full social security number.  If anyone sends you a document and doesn’t demand that you go through a slightly annoying process of logging into something, or providing a password, or touching your toes, or something else annoying and instead just emails you a pdf of sensitive information that you can read immediately after opening the pdf, so can the attackers.  Complain to any vendor, bank, financial institution and accounting firm and hold them accountable to doing a better job to keeping your identity secure.

    And if you think adding a four digit pin to a pdf helps to make it secure, there are a number of tools that will remove passwords from pdfs in a short amount of time.

    My sister has had tax identity theft and she has to provide a PIN number when she files her tax return.  Unfortunately those of us who have not had our identity stolen through the IRS system can’t get this same multi factor authentication process because the tax computers are a bit too archaic and there isn’t enough funds set aside to afford multi factor authentication for all of us taxpayers (I’m not kidding).

    So my recommendation is to file as early as you can as the person who files earliest (either the identity thieves or you) gets first into the system.

    Remember that the IRS never ever calls you.  Ever.  Nor do they email you.  They also don’t call demanding payment or a credit card number and say that they will be there soon to arrest you.    The IRS audit process is a slow slow process and you will get many things mailed to you over time.  And especially they do not call with a thick foreign accent pretending to be from an area code that could be an IRS center (VOIP can be made to look like it’s from a USA number even when they are calling from overseas).

    So take a look at those tax documents you are getting and see how private they are.  Complain when they aren’t.


    (**)  1099’s is the number of the form that the USA government requires that businesses send to recipients of bank interest, dividends, non employee compensation.  You may also receive your salary on a form W-2 that has your tax identification number.  For anyone overseas, think about any document that gets sent to you that has sensitive information on it.  Do you want it emailed to you just as an email attachment?  If no, take the time to reach out to the sender and ask them that they do something better to protect your information.