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Monthly Archives: August 2019

  • Patch Lady – free isn’t free

    Posted on August 27th, 2019 at 21:54 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I’ve seen several people point to several posts about “free” Windows 7 extended updates.  But I don’t see these “free” as truly free.

    Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EA and EAS) customers with active subscription licenses to Windows 10 Enterprise E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security will get Windows 7 Extended Security Updates for Year 1 as a benefit,” Microsoft said in a FAQ about the end of support for Windows 7 and Office 2010.

    Windows 10 Enterprise E5 and Microsoft 365 E5 are the top-tier subscriptions of the OS or packages that include the operating system. They are the highest-priced plans in their specific lines.

    EA agreements are only sold to larger customers.  I may have a Microsoft 365 E5 agreement myself personally but I do NOT have an EA agreement.  You have to have 500 seats of a license (or more) in order to get a EA agreement.

    Next even if you would get access to Windows 7 extended support patches, keep in mind that you will be installing a servicing stack update that enables the ability to enter a MAK key that will specifically license you for Windows 7 patches.  These will then come down for you via Microsoft update (as I understand the process).  If you are a “I don’t want no telemetry on my PC”, you probably won’t want a servicing stack update installed along with a product key that will brand you as being an Extended security patch customer.

    Bottom line, if you want to surf on the web on a Windows 7 machine after January of 2020.  Don’t.  Please.  Keep on using it for specific needs that no longer need the Internet, but don’t do online banking or other financial transactions.  Look into setting up a Linux based boot disk for such needs.   Windows 10 truly does have secret sauce to make it harder to attack (Example:  memory is designed to make it harder for attackers to target).

    Patching can be tamed.  The telemetry that Microsoft gets (IMHO) helps them protect us better from security threats.  I don’t see it as spying.  I know, I know, you will disagree with me.  That’s okay.  I just want folks to make sure that you don’t read the headlines about “Free Windows 7 patches” and not realize this wasn’t meant for small firms and individuals.  Don’t get caught up by thinking there’s a way to get free Windows 7 updates.

    Bottom line… move along.  These aren’t the droids you are looking for….

  • Win10 version 1909 (“19H2”) now has three current beta versions

    Posted on August 27th, 2019 at 10:48 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Never let it be said that the Windows Insider rings are well defined.

    Microsoft’s putting the finishing touches on the next new version (“feature update”) for Win10 version 1903. Except it isn’t being distributed as a new version. It’s being distributed as a plain-vanilla monthly patch (“quality update”).

    I tend to think of the next version of Win10 as Win10 1903 Service Pack 1. But you’ll probably end up calling it Win10 version 1909.

    Here’s where you need a decoder ring.

    The Windows Release Preview ring has been used, historically, for all sorts of things. Recently, it’s been used to test updates to Win10 version 1903 prior to officially rolling them out. (It’s also been photobombed by an odd update, build 18947, which was quickly pulled.) On August 21, Microsoft released a new test version of Win10 1903, build 18362.325, into the Release Preview ring. Presumably, 18362.325 includes fixes for the VB/VBA/VBScript bugs introduced on Patch Tuesday in 18362.295.

    Starting yesterday, a subset of those in the Release Preview ring (about 10%, according to Dona Sarkar), were given the keys to the executive washroom. If you’re in the Release Preview ring and you’re one of the chosen few, you’ll see a link to update to “Windows 10, version 1909.”

    Click on that link and you’ll be able to test Win10 build 18363.327. That’s the first Win10 1909 update allowed out of the Redmond barn.

    Note the monkey business with the build numbers — Win10 version 1903 is build 18362.blahblahblah. Win10 version 1909 (nee “19H2”) is build 18363.mumblemumble.

    Sarkar says “to designate 19H2 as a feature update, we are revising the baseline build number by one full build” in the Windows Obfuscation Numbering Scheme. But note that:

    Insiders in the Release Preview ring who get 19H2 Build 18363.327 today will not see all the 19H2 features the Slow ring currently has as not all the features have been incorporated into the build yet.

    But wait a sec. There isn’t a single beta version of 1909 in the Slow Ring. There are two. I call them the bifurcating betas. That means, right now, there are not one, not two, but three different beta test versions of Win10 1909 — builds 18362.10014, 18362.10015, and 18363.327.

    The official announcement ends with this bit of wisdom:

    Because of the differences between the way the 19H2 updates are packaged between the Slow and Release Preview rings, Insiders in the Slow ring will not be able to switch to the Release Preview ring and get updates yet. Insiders who are thinking of switching rings should stay put for now. We will communicate to Insiders when it is ok to make the switch.

    See what I mean about a decoder ring?

    Thx @EP

    UPDATE: Paul Thurrott has posted an article on his paywall site that says there are “a minimum of” four versions of 1909 (“19H2”) floating around. I’ve seen three, but haven’t seen the fourth — and doubt that it exists. Three. Four. Whatever. It’s still way too many.

  • Patch Lady – I smell a Rat

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 20:03 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    (coming to you from the friendly wifi of United Airlines as I fly to the Quest/The Experts Conference)

    So twice lately someone has asked about articles indicating that we should patch now.  Yesterday.  Like the day before yesterday.  And yet, when I’m reading the articles, I can’t find a single specific update they are talking about.

    All Windows users should update immediately as ‘Complete Control’ hack is confirmed

    and

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2019/08/24/windows-users-warned-to-update-now-as-complete-control-hack-attack-confirmed/#268cd4715bdb

    Okay so the gist of the article (that I can tell is) that a research firm came out with a PR whitepaper on NanoRat 1.2.2 and said that it’s being used more in attacks.   The attacks come in via phishing and macro enabled documents.

    So…..?  This is different than any of the other daily phishing attacks I see in my spam filters?

    And all you can tell me is to “patch now”?  Patching my operating system won’t patch if I’m stupid enough to click on something.  Patching my operating system won’t patch if I’m stupid enough to enter my credentials on a well done web page pretending to be my mail server needing me to “upgrade”.

    Bottom line, telling me to patch now when there’s no specific operating system update in the August updates that will protect us from this is just running around like Chicken Little telling me the sky is falling.

    Come on tech sites, stop using Public relations stunts to write your content.  There’s enough true security stories out there for us to be more than scared over.  (The one that concerns me is the recent ransomware coming into multiple government entities via  a shared managed service providers).

    Make no mistake the bad guys want to get us, but articles like these that give no good solid actionable items other than “patch” when it’s not even Patch Tuesday are just ridiculous.

  • ChromeOS Enterprise

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 11:45 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Google and Dell sittin’ on a tree….

    Big news from both Google and Dell. Tom Warren at The Verge puts it this way:

    Google is launching new Chromebook Enterprise devices that it hopes will draw more businesses away from Windows-powered laptops… Dell is launching Chrome OS on a pair of its popular business-focused Latitude laptops, offering both a regular clamshell design and a 2-in-1 option.. Businesses will be able to choose from Dell’s 14-inch Latitude 5400 ($699) or the 13-inch Latitude 5300 2-in-1 ($819).

    Microsoft keeps promising a new Windows version codenamed LiteOS. It isn’t clear to me at all how LiteOS will be better. When it finally appears.

  • Another patching debacle — how we got here

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 01:15 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    WOODY’S WINDOWS WATCH

    By Woody Leonhard

    Frantic moves to fix this month’s Windows-update bugs highlight the dark underbelly of Microsoft’s patching strategy.

    August patches have been flying around like salmon in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Now that the major bugs are fixed — for the most part — it’s time to look at what happened and speculate on whether this type of debacle can be avoided in the future.

    Here’s the short version of events.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.30.0 (2019-08-26).

  • Spotting fakery in system specs

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 01:10 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    LANGALIST

    By Fred Langa

    We all assume that Windows’ built-in System Information and Device specifications applets are reporting a PC’s true specs.

    And under normal circumstances they do; but, surprisingly, simple hacks can make those tools display totally bogus information.

    Plus: What you should know about safely repurposing a former boot drive in a new machine.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.30.0 (2019-08-26).

  • Options for secure remote access

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 01:05 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    ON SECURITY

    By Susan Bradley

    Do you regularly use some form of Microsoft remote-access technology?

    If so, you’re probably wondering how to manage the transition from on-premises to in-the-cloud versions.

    But that’s putting the cart before the horse. It might be tempting to go straight to the cloud, but simply moving the tools you currently use to a cloud-based virtual machine can be the most expensive and least efficient way to change technologies. Before you jump to a cloud solution, you should first assess your actual remote-access needs.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.30.0 (2019-08-26).

  • What does digital transformation mean for small business?

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 01:00 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    SMALL BUSINESS COMPUTING

    By Amy Babinchak

    While attending a recent conference, I sat in on a session about digital transformation. But it proved disappointing — the speaker’s discussion was limited to moving local servers into a data center.

    That’s not what digital transformation means. Digital transformation is about modernizing your business processes for better customer experiences and improving productivity. When boiled down to its essence, a digital makeover is about taking an old business and making it new again.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.30.0 (2019-08-26).