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  • Time to block vNext

    Posted on October 4th, 2021 at 02:42 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Not ready to move to Windows 11? PC not compatible? Block it!

    Microsoft has expanded the setting we love at AskWoody: “TRV,” or TargetReleaseVersion. Previously, we were able to set the specific feature release we wanted for Windows 10. Now we get the option to ensure that we stay on Windows 10 — and only on Windows 10.

    (Why do I always insist that we are better off holding back and not installing the latest thing? Because unless you want to be a beta tester, you shouldn’t have to become a beta tester.)

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.38.0 (2021-10-04).

  • Coming soon to a forum near you

    Posted on October 2nd, 2021 at 23:13 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube demonstrating the changes

    Here’s a sneak peak of upcoming changes to the forum. We’ ve got a new “skin” on the forum that will make it easier to start new posts. Up at the top of each location will be a spot to click to jump to make a new post.

    We will be getting rid of that confusing “comment” link that never went anywhere.

    Click below on the funky url to check out the changes!

    Test of the new forum

    And when do we plan to make the change?

    Why October 5th of course!  If Microsoft can roll out a change, so can we!  Stay tuned!

    P.S. want to know how to change the colors for links on a web page to what you want? There’s lots of ways to do it. Some are with the use of addons, some you can use the accessibility feature to enable different colors.

  • Got something between you and…?

    Posted on September 29th, 2021 at 15:09 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I always call the difference between “managed” (those computers behind some sort of group policy, or patching platform) and “unmanaged” (those computers that have no settings other than to update from Microsoft update) as whether or not you have something between you and Redmond.

    So what’s she’s saying is that if you are a business user and have WSUS or SCCM or have used Windows Update for business policies – YOU have to choose Windows 11 in order to get it.

    Now for those of us that Microsoft affectionately calls “Unmanaged” – that is those of us that us Microsoft update.

    First – if your machine can’t handle Windows 11 it won’t be offered it.

    If your machine has a feature deferral setting (that registry key/group policy setting that PK has pointed to here ) it will not upgrade to Windows 11 without you explicitly entering Windows 11.

    Remember what I said earlier….

    I’ve made it easier for you by including links to download these registry keys. If you want to stay on 21H1, click on this link and install it on your system. If you plan to let your machine upgrade to 21H2, click on this link. And if you leave the setting alone and do nothing, and your computer does not have the hardware capabilities for Windows 11, you will not be offered the upgrade. If you do have hardware that can handle Windows 11, you’ll be offered — but not pushed to — Windows 11.

  • MS-DEFCON 4: The printing issues continue

    Posted on September 28th, 2021 at 02:45 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.37.1 • 2021-09-28

    MS-DEFCON 4

    By Susan Bradley

    Printing or security — you decide

    We’re back to reasonable levels of safety and of understanding the nature of recent updates, so I’m recommending the resumption of update installation — but not without some major caveats. Sadly, there are still some side effects with printing, which is getting to be an annoying trend. It’s been months now.

    These updates also include new and expanded categories plus registry keys that allow you to officially defer Windows 11 and then choose to push off the upcoming 21H2 release. More about that later.

    Consumer and home users

    I haven’t seen printing problems with directly attached printers, the most likely scenario for home users. Therefore, I recommend applying the September updates now. The reason is that this month’s updates include expanded sections to choose various versions of Windows 10 or Windows 11 and specifically block what you don’t want.

    For those of you on Windows 10 Professional, after installing the September updates you’ll be able to click on the search box and type in “edit group policy.” Next, scroll down to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update, and Windows Update for Business. Find the setting for Select the target Feature Update version. Click on Enabled, fill in the product version in the first box (“Windows 10”), and then the feature release version you want to keep.

    Of course, Windows 10 Home can’t do group policy. Instead, use registry keys to defer Windows 11 and stay on the version of Windows 10 you want. You’ll be adding a value under

    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate

    Manually add the values “TargetReleaseVersion”=dword:00000001, “ProductVersion”=”Windows 10”, and “TargetReleaseVersionInfo”=”21H1”.

    I’ve made it easier for you by including links to download these registry keys. If you want to stay on 21H1, click on this link and install it on your system. If you plan to let your machine upgrade to 21H2, click on this link. And if you leave the setting alone and do nothing, and your computer does not have the hardware capabilities for Windows 11, you will not be offered the upgrade. If you do have hardware that can handle Windows 11, you’ll be offered — but not pushed to — Windows 11.

    Business users

    First the good news: Microsoft has finally acknowledged what we’ve known for weeks now — its updates trigger issues if your users do not have administrator rights. The bad news is that it hasn’t yet acknowledged the issues we’ve seen this month, nor are any fixes planned. Microsoft will only urge us to

    Verify that you are using the latest drivers for all your printing devices and where possible, use the same version of the print driver on the print client and print server.

    Microsoft indicates that the trigger is

    … caused by a print driver on the print client and the print server using the same filename, but the server has a newer version of the file.

    But here’s the problem: We never installed a newer driver on the server. We did nothing but install the software update to the server. I know that many of these notifications are triggered by the use of v3 (older) printer drivers versus v4 printer drivers. If you cannot upgrade to v4 drivers, you have a couple of options to “re-push” out drivers to fix this issue.

    Unfortunately, in this era of cumulative updates you can’t break out the parts of the update you want from the parts you don’t want. So if you don’t install this update this month, you put your business at risk from MSHTML-based ransomware attacks (CVE-2021-40444).  If you make the decision to not install these updates, make sure you use the registry keys I wrote about earlier to block the MSHTML vulnerabilities. Don’t go unpatched and unprotected.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.37.1 (2021-09-28).

  • Got your Plus newsletter now?

    Posted on September 27th, 2021 at 15:55 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So hopefully by now you have received your PLUS newsletter for the week. First, apologies. For some unknown reason that I’m unsure of at this time,  Mailchimp flagged our Plus newsletter account and would not send out the emails last night. They finally unblocked the account around noon pacific time, but for a while there I was considering alternatives.

    When I reached out to Mailchimp the issue they said was “As you know, this was a pause by Omnivore, our automated abuse-prevention system, and was done out of caution, rather than for correction. It scans account and campaign content, and prompts human review so we can determine whether correction is needed, or, as is the case here, all’s well.”

    Okay so how much do you want to bet that a software update nailed us? Sigh.  Apologies again, sorry for the inconvenience, we should be fully back to mailing you properly now. Remember stay tuned for the MS-DEFCON 4 to go out this week.

     

  • Missing your Plus newsletter?

    Posted on September 27th, 2021 at 10:39 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So are we.  Apparently we are in the dog house (or rather Chimp house?) and it was not sent out last night as it was supposed to be.  We have a support ticket open with Mailchimp and as soon as the issue is resolved we’ll be sending out the newsletter.  Until then, remember you can read it online here.

    Then clearly if we didn’t have enough troubles we accidentally put the subject line of “Plus” in the “Free” newsletter.  So if you got a “plus” newsletter and couldn’t get to any of the paid links, it’s because it REALLY was the Free newsletter.

    I know.  It’s a Monday.  Apologies for the mess, we’ll get it straightened out.

  • Microsoft says forget your passwords!

    Posted on September 27th, 2021 at 02:40 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    In a major push, Microsoft is advocating moving away from passwords and instead using different authentication methods.

    The headline: “The passwordless future is here for your Microsoft account.” Is it?

    Here’s what Microsoft has to say in its security blog about a move away from passwords.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.37.0 (2021-09-27).

  • Tasks for the weekend – September 25, 2021 – but what if you DO want Windows 11?

    Posted on September 26th, 2021 at 00:29 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Youtube here  Unless you’ve been’ living under a rock, you’ll know that Windows 11 is to be officially released on October 5th. We don’t know when 21H2 will be released but I think it will be after October 5th.  Don’t worry after I give the all clear to install updates I’ll walk you through the setting to defer 21H2 and ensure Windows 11 won’t get installed in next week’s newsletter. Some of you that are the testers for the rest of your office/fleet may want to have Windows 11 as soon as possible.

    So what should you do if you DO want Windows 11 on your existing computer? 

    First off as we’ve said before, check that your hardware can support it. Keeping in mind that if you’ve done ANY group policy based deferrals of updates, the Microsoft tool will say that your organization manages patching on your machine.  Thus you’ll need to use a third party tool like WhynotWin11 instead.

    Next click on search, device manager, go into your video card driver drivers and review the date of the drivers. Next go to the manufacturer of the video card drivers (don’t google and go to a random driver site) and see if there are newer drivers. If there are, install them.

    Next check if you have the latest and greatest engine of your antivirus vendor. (This will be automatic with Microsoft Defender). Ensure you have the latest engine from your vendor – and if need be – uninstall and reinstall. Make sure your backup vendor will support Windows 11 as well.

    Review for support from your vendors – see if they all support it at this time – and if they don’t you can deal with not using them if there is an issue.

    …and remember – you can roll back to Windows 10, you can easily do so.  So after you install it, go through the applications and accessories like printers and scanners that are your bread and butter items and test to make sure they work. If they don’t, roll back, report it here, and we’ll let you know when the issues are fixed.

  • Sneak peak – testing out a new skin on the forum

    Posted on September 24th, 2021 at 14:59 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Over on a test forum (where we turn it on when we want to test updates and new plug ins) I have a test going on a new “skin” for the forum. Note we’re still in testing – at the present time if you want post anonymously you have to enter anon as the user and anon@askwoody.com as the email address – we’re working on making that prefilled in if you don’t want to log into the site.

    https://testaskwoody.holbihost.com/forums/

    Bottom line check it out. Let me know please if you have any issues?

    The goal is to make it WAY more obvious how to start a topic or reply.

    Feedback please!

  • Do we need firmware and software updates forever?

    Posted on September 23rd, 2021 at 14:24 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Check out this article:

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/we-need-software-updates-forever

    Consumers have relied on the good graces of device makers to keep our gadget firmware and software secure and up-to-date. Doing so costs the manufacturer some of its profits. As a result, many of them are apt to drop support for old gadgets faster than the gadgets themselves wear out. This corporate stinginess consigns far too many of our devices to the trash heap before they have exhausted their usability. That’s bad for consumers and bad for the planet. It needs to stop.

    We have seen a global right-to-repair movement emerge from maker communities and start to influence public policy around such things as the availability of spare parts. I’d argue that there should be a parallel right-to-maintain movement. We should mandate that device manufacturers set aside a portion of the purchase price of a gadget to support ongoing software maintenance, forcing them to budget for a future they’d rather ignore. Or maybe they aren’t ignoring the future so much as trying to manage it by speeding up product obsolescence, because it typically sparks another purchase.

  • Clearly they didn’t get my feedback

    Posted on September 22nd, 2021 at 11:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The Surface Go device is one of the lightest, best devices for traveling if you need a Windows device.  But there is a BUT in there.  The keyboard is a little too small/off and I kept hitting the wrong keys. So I traded up for a Surface Pro 7 + but it is a little heavier.

    The Surface event is being held today and the Surface Go 3 doesn’t look like it got a larger keyboard.

    Next up Surface 8 devices.

    Interesting change that I didn’t realize was happening … my favorite business way to buy Surface devices WAS through the Liftforward/Surface all access program that you paid over time and then could upgrade/swap out as needed.  Looks like this shut down in March of 2021. Now they have Klarna as their partner.

    You can watch the recording here.

  • Real-time MS-DEFCON alerts debut!

    Posted on September 20th, 2021 at 02:45 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Newsletter Logo
    ISSUE 18.36 • 2021-09-20

    MS-DEFCON

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    The new AskWoody SMS alert system is now available for Plus members.

    The MS-DEFCON system has been a staple of the AskWoody site for many years now. You know it as a visual system of numbers and colors that provides a quick indicator of the relative safety of applying updates (patching) to Windows and other Microsoft apps and services.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.36.0 (2021-09-20).
    This story also appears in the AskWoody Free Newsletter 18.36.F (2021-09-20).