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  • MS-DEFCON 2: Defer Windows & Office updates to June 24

    Posted on June 4th, 2021 at 03:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.20.1 • 2021-06-04
    MS-DEFCON Level 2

    By Susan Bradley

    Consumer and home users

    Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to get the May updates installed.

    Before next Tuesday, be sure you are comfortable with your methodology for deferring updates. For Windows updates, I’m still a fan of the method I call “pick the date.” Go to Settings, then to Update and Security; click on Advanced options, and select Pause updates. Then use the Select date drop-down to choose the date when you’d like updates to resume. I’m suggesting June 24.

    Note that the News and Interests notification will be fully enabled in your task bar this month.

    For Office updates, open up any Office application, click on File, Office Account, Office Updates; choose Disable Updates. You can resume updates later in the month. While you have Office updates disabled, avoid opening macro-enabled files as a defense against potential ransomware threats.

    Business users

    Ransomware has been a big topic in the news this month. While doing your patch testing, continue to educate your end users about the dangers posed by simple tasks done carelessly — opening emails, transferring files, clicking on links, etc. Greater danger requires greater vigilance.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.20.1 (2021-06-04).

  • MS-DEFCON 4: It’s quiet out there

    Posted on May 27th, 2021 at 01:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.19.1 • 2021-05-27
    MS-DEFCON Level 4

    By Susan Bradley

    This month has been relatively quiet with respect to patching side effects. It’s now time to install the May updates.

    Consumer and home users

    Most of the issues and complaints have not been about the May update. Instead, there has been dissatisfaction with a new feature called News and Interests. As this feature rolls out, more and more people are asking how to remove it. I have provided a registry update file that will automatically disable News and Interests. The only known side effect is audio issues in some machines; these can be bypassed by using stereo settings.

    More details will be provided in my upcoming Patch Watch article.

    Business users

    For small businesses that still have an on-premises Exchange email server, make sure you install this month’s Exchange patches, as described in KB 5003435.

    Note that some users reported issues if they had manually removed the new version of Edge, proving once again that Microsoft doesn’t test the edge cases (pun intended).

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.19.1 (2021-05-27).

  • MS-DEFCON 2: Pause on patching

    Posted on May 10th, 2021 at 12:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.17.1 • 2021-05-10
    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    It’s time for both business users and consumer or home users to pause Windows updates.

    Accordingly, I’m changing the AskWoody MS-DEFCON level to 2. Patch reliability is unclear. Unless you have an immediate, pressing need to install a specific patch, don’t do it.

    Consumer and home users

    If you are a home/consumer user, I recommend two actions to ensure you do not get inadvertent updates. First, select Start, Settings, Network & Internet, and then Wi-Fi or Ethernet (whichever connection you are using). Next, click Manage known networks; click on the network that you use, click Properties, and turn on Set as metered connection. This “tricks” the computer into thinking that your Internet connection is not unlimited (i.e., you might incur charges) and thus will download patches only after you approve the process.

    The second action is picking a deferral date after May 11, when Microsoft will push out the next Patch Tuesday security releases. Click on Start, Settings, Update & Security; then click on Advanced Options. Pick a date far enough in the future to give you comfort. I always wait at least a week, usually more. I’ll be re-evaluating the update situation closer to the end of the month, but for now choosing May 28 should be safe enough.

    For those of you with an Office click-to-run (CTR) edition, I strongly recommend that you change to the semiannual channel rather than the monthly one because it will keep you from the Autocomplete bug.

    Business users

    Coming this month in the May Security releases, Microsoft will be including a new “News and Interests” taskbar item featuring items of interest to your users. Remember, if you want to proactively block it, there are registry keys and group policy to control it.

    References

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.17.1 (2021-05-10).

  • MS-DEFCON 2 – Deferring the April Updates

    Posted on April 11th, 2021 at 01:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
    AskWoody Plus Alert Logo
    ISSUE 18.12.1 • 2021-04-11

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Brace yourself for April updates

    It’s the time of the month to pause for updates. You will recall that the March updates were very disruptive and many of you decided to not install that round. The April releases are cumulative so you won’t have to go back and install the March updates. Instead, we’ll take a long pause to see what April brings.

    If you are a home/consumer user, I recommend two actions to ensure you do not get inadvertent updates. First, select Start, Settings, Network & Internet, and then Wi-Fi or Ethernet (whichever connection you are using). Next click Manage known networks, click on the network that you use, click Properties and turn on Set as metered connection. This “tricks” the computer into thinking that your Internet connection is not unlimited (i.e., you might incur charges) and thus will only download patches once you approve the process.

    The second action is picking a deferral date after April 13, when the next Patch Tuesday security releases will be pushed out by Microsoft. Click on Start, Settings, Update & Security, then click on Advanced Options. Pick a date far enough in the future to give you comfort. I always wait at least a week, usually more. I’ll be reevaluating the update situation closer to the end of the month, but for now choosing April 30 should be safe enough.

    Remember: For those of you running Windows 10 1909, support is coming to an end. After May 11, 2021, 1909 will not receive security updates. In accordance with prior advice, update to 20H2; 21H1 is just around the corner.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Alert 18.12.1 (2021-04-11).