Monthly Archives: December 2023

  • MS-DEFCON 4: A quiet December

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    ISSUE 20.52.1 • 2023-12-27


    By Susan Bradley

    I’m hoping that the relatively well-behaved December updates are a good omen for the upcoming patching year.

    Given that December was quiet and many Microsoft employees are taking a holiday break, applying updates now is likely to be safe. Accordingly, I’m lowering the MS-DEFCON level to 4.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.52.1, 2023-12-27).

  • My 2023 rear-view mirror and 2024 crystal ball

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    ISSUE 20.52 • 2023-12-26
    Look for our BONUS issue on January 1, 2024! Happy New Year!


    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    Let’s first check the 2023 rear-view mirror to see what good, and not-so-good, things happened with Microsoft 365.

    I’ll look at just some of the changes, perhaps not the most-hyped-but-possibly-overlooked ones in the never-ending road that is Microsoft marketing. Then I’ll peer over the steering wheel to see what will or might happen in 2024.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.52.0, 2023-12-26).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • The state of OneNote in 2023


    Mary Branscombe

    By Mary Branscombe

    Progress on the unified Windows version of OneNote has delivered only a handful of new features this year, but the foundations might finally be finished.

    2024 will mark five years since Microsoft restarted work on the desktop Windows client and three years since it decided to cherry-pick some favorite OneNote features for Windows 10 before it reaches end of life in October 2025. Software development always takes longer than expected, especially with the impact of a global pandemic, so I want to look back at the progress OneNote has made in 2023 and then see where Microsoft has been focusing its investments.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.52.0, 2023-12-26).

  • 2024 — The free software I’m taking with me


    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    As yet another year passes without being able to fly to work like George Jetson, I’m listing the 2023 freebies I’ll keep using in 2024.

    I test a lot of software, so I install a lot of software. Unfortunately, unless it’s something I can use often and that has become part of my routine, I must uninstall a lot of software as well. Gotta keep things neat and tidy.

    As we kick the backside of 2023 out the door and hit it with a snowball for good measure, let’s take a look at ten free apps I found in 2023 that I’m keeping in 2024.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.52.0, 2023-12-26).

  • The patching year in review — for consumers


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    We’re closing another patching year for consumers and home users (aka the “unmanaged crowd”).

    Will and I have an ongoing, two-year struggle with a phrase I commonly use, “consumer and home users.” Will thinks it cumbersome and that there is no meaningful difference.

    I define consumers as anyone running Windows Home or Professional editions but not configured in a domain or not using patching tools favored by businesses. Consumers don’t have an IT department (assuming you don’t call the teenager next door an IT department) and don’t use a managed service provider. Consumers usually have a peer-to-peer network (because who doesn’t have multiple devices connected to their Internet service these days?) and may use it to connect to shared devices such as printers. Consumers tend to blur the lines of technology and will use Apple iPads or Android phones right alongside Windows machines.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.52.0, 2023-12-26).

  • Just a reminder – our Holiday schedule

    Just a reminder that we are taking a break and not emailing the newsletter to Plus members until Tuesday due to the Holiday schedule. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend. I’m working on a present I bought myself, or rather a present bought for myself that I’m going to use in the weeks ahead for the site: A brand spanking new HP laptop with Windows 11 Home with the intent to fully kick the tires, report on setting it up. and in particular keep an eye on the impact of patches specifically on an “Unmanaged” Home version of Windows 11.

    So I’m purposely going to see the impact on a Windows 11 Home version and when features and changes are going to be offered up to that particular version. Stay tuned.

    As an aside, just so you know, it shipped with Windows 11 22H2, you still can install it without a Microsoft account with the email address trick, the center menu along with the cartoons in the search box are still jarring to me.  The Edge setup process is a LOT of confusing questions.  I’ve confirmed already that in this configuration, Device encryption is set to “on”, the C drive reports that Bitlocker is enabled, even though it really isn’t and certainly I know I do not have the password for drive encryption backed up. I’ll have more on this in an upcoming article. So while I’m kicking the tires of the computer, I’m also watching old movies on TCM and right now “Desk Set” is on with Hepburn and Tracy. The opening credits acknowledged the cooperation and assistance of the International Business Machines Corporation as well as featured green bar computer paper that I haven’t seen in YEARS.

    And what’s the topic of the film?  Why AI in a way. “ In the midst of the general enthusiasm that characterized popular coverage of the computer in this period crept hints of unease about the possibility of electronic brains displacing humans in domains previously thought to have been free from the threat of mechanization.”

    Hmmm.  Things haven’t changed, have they?

  • The year that was — scoring 2023

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    ISSUE 20.51 • 2023-12-18
    Our next issue will be published on Tuesday, December 26, 2023. Happy Holidays!


    Max Oppenheimer

    By Max Stul Oppenheimer, Esq.

    It didn’t take a crystal ball.

    If, on January 1, 2023, I had made predictions about what would happen in the coming year, I would not have received high marks for boldness. In a way, that’s reassuring — there were no paradigm-shifting catastrophes that struck technology consumers.

    I would have predicted the following.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.51.0, 2023-12-18).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • The best news of the year


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    The year 2023 revealed many poor decisions made by Internet giants. Almost every big company seemed to make at least one techno no-no.

    The good news is that the year also saw several positive developments — or, at least, an incremental change that might lead to something better.

    I’ll update you today on some of the most significant news. These situations were first described in stories that I originally covered in an AskWoody column this year.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.51.0, 2023-12-18).

  • Continuing trends in computing — and your choices


    Ben Myers

    By Ben Myers

    Let Windows 11 and other major trends be your guide to greater productivity, reliability, and security.

    Computer hardware and software continue their relentless advances — mostly progress, sometimes a hiccup. Paying attention to the various changes in our world of computing can save you time and money — and, after all, time is money. These trends may influence your near-term buying decisions, as our annual two-month Black Friday buying spree morphs into the January White Sale of unsold gear.

    These trends are the distillation of my experience based upon hundreds of computers making a stop in Ben’s Workshop along their way — whether from a factory or an auction house, as a trade-in, or simply for repair — and then into the hands of people using them or off to my convenient e-cycler.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.51.0, 2023-12-18).

  • Closing the year on patching


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    We need a little Copilot, now.

    I have a favorite Christmas song called “We Need a Little Christmas” (now). That comes to my mind because for those of you who want to partake in the artificial intelligence experiment know as Windows Copilot, you may end up humming the slightly modified song “I Need a Little Copilot” (now).

    The December updates start to bring Copilot into Windows 10. I say “start” because, like many things in Microsoftland, features and changes are no longer released en masse to everyone in the form of a service pack. Instead, the changes are dribbled out or limited to certain geographical areas.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.51.0, 2023-12-18).

  • Just a reminder – you don’t want this setting

    Remember how I don’t recommend preview updates?  I also don’t recommend that you opt into them either.

    As Alex pointed out back in November, Microsoft is “backporting” into Windows 10 some of the same buttons and features that Windows 11 has. One of them is this button that you can turn on, or in my case, strongly recommend you keep off, the “Get the latest updates as soon as they are available.

    No, we don’t want to be beta testers anymore than we are now.

    Just a reminder, still haven’t approved updates, still monitoring for side effects.

  • Master patch list for December 12, 2023

    I’ve updated the Master Patch list for the December updates.  I’ll be updating the page for any known issues or issues that we are tracking. I will keep the latest info there.  There are no .NET updates this month so the updates are installing pretty quickly.

    Mind you at this time I still have not given the go ahead. But I know some of you are testing updates at this time.

    Windows 10 unmanaged PCs may start to see Copilot.  To disable this use Download reg file to disable Windows Copilot  I’ve seen it dribbled on some, but not all machines.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember we use the “name your price” model where you can choose how much you will pay for  a membership . Plus membership gives you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level.  More details in Monday’s newsletter.  You are missing out if you don’t sign up. All content is human made with our own blood, sweat, tears, fingers and brain power and 100% AI free.  Therefore, if I’ve fat fingered any KB numbers or if you have any questions, as always post in the forums and I’ll follow up!