Newsletter Archives

  • Are you ready for AI?

    The Microsoft BUILD conference is over and they will be adding AI to well…. everything.  As usual while Microsoft will be … well Microsoft. We’ll be ensuring that we can tame and make the technology what you want it to be.

    If you don’t want AI in Edge now, you can start with the basics such as blocking the request to change the default browser to Edge and the default search engine to Bing. This setting as noted in Edge policies can be set via group policy or Intune. Additional settings include to block the Bing Chat AI from the Windows 11 search. To disable Bing Chat AI from the Search field on the taskbar press the Windows key and open Settings, or use the Windows key + I shortcut to open it directly. Now click Privacy & security from the left panel scroll down to the Windows permissions section and click on Search permissions from the list. Scroll down to the More settings section and toggle off the Show search highlights option. The Bing Chat AI icon will no longer appear in the search field.

    For those that use group policy there is a new Group Policy setting to disable the bing chat icon, and this setting was added with Windows 11 21H2 administrative templates. You must download the ADMX Templates for Windows 11 October 2021 Update [21H2] from the Official Microsoft Download Center. You’ll want to copy the files from from C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions on a Windows 11 computer to your central policy store.  Navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Component\Chat. Find “Configures the Chat icon on the taskbar“.

    Bottom line, don’t worry, we’ll keep you aware of all the tips and tricks to tame your operating system so it won’t go “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Stay tuned. we’re have more in the newsletter as Microsoft showcases the changes. Previews will be coming in June.

    I’d also like to wish everyone in the United States a great Memorial Day holiday.  To everyone who has served, thank you.

  • Do you touch your screen?

    When I have my Kindle, I use touch on the screen.  On my iphone or on an iPad, once again, touch is the preferred method. Obviously because all of those devices are designed for touch and were intended for touch.

    But on a Windows computer?  Even though I may have several computers that support touch screens about the only thing I use touch screen for is to swipe up and log into the computer and then use the keyboard. The advantage of buying a computer – even a laptop – WITHOUT touch is that it’s always cheaper.

    So when Windows 11 comes out with new touch enhancements I tend to go, “that’s nice” and go back to my keyboard. But slowly you can tell that Microsoft is responding to feedback. Case in point this week is that you can enable seconds in the time view on Windows 11. Reportedly it was removed because refreshing the screen caused performance issues.

    But what about you?  Do you use touch with Windows?


  • Microsoft… I’m not in the mood for this

    Buried in the latest insider edition is this little nugget….

    Changes and Improvements


    • We are continuing the exploration of badging on the Start menu with several new treatments for users logging in with local user accounts to highlight the benefits of signing in with a Microsoft account (MSA). If you see one of these treatments, give us feedback on what you think. As a reminder, it is normal for us to try out different concepts in the Dev Channel to get feedback.
    Different treatments of badging on the Start menu highlighting the benefits of signing in with a Microsoft account for users logged in with a local user account.
    Different treatments of badging on the Start menu highlighting the benefits of signing in with a Microsoft account for users logged in with a local user account.

    So being that this is nearly the end of the unofficial tax season for me … long story short those of us in California really get until October 16 due to our flooding earlier this year, but we’re still doing tax extensions to be proactive and ensure the IRS handles these right… but I digress, and this is patching week, and well… I’m tired!  My patience is at absolute ZERO.  So needless to say this is not going over well with me tonight.

    Here’s what I tweeted to @brandonLeBlanc on twitter tonight

    Sometimes we WANT the choice we have gone OUT OF OUR WAY to select.  If we wanted a Microsoft account, we would get that Microsoft account.

    I guess I should look at the bright side, there are enough folks using the workaround that they are taking the time (and developer effort) to code this up.

    More about this as we know more about this. As always we’ll keep you up to date in the newsletter.

  • Windows 10 22H2 is out along with “Moments” for Windows 11

    Microsoft has just posted that Windows 10 22H2 is now out for “seekers” who manually “check for updates”  Remember if you want to stay at a certain feature release you can use group policy or registry keys here.  Folks behind WSUS or other managed patching won’t be pushed this.

    Next the first “Moment” release is out for Windows 11.  Tabbed file explorer is included.  As I suspected these are included in the optional non security releases and will be rolled out to all next month in the cumulative patches

    “These new features and experiences will start to become available today in an optional non-security preview release and a phased rollout via our servicing technology and new apps via Microsoft Store updates5, ensuring you can take advantage of the latest Windows experiences as these new features are ready. The new features will be made broadly available to all editions of Windows 11, version 22H2 in the November 2022 security update release.”

    What isn’t detailed is how you can control these – especially if you are a business other than not installing the patch?  I’ll be asking around to see what’s up.

    AND updating the Master patch list AGAIN tonight.

  • 22H2 for Windows 11 is out

    Well it’s official, 22H2 for Windows 11 is out for those who go to “check for updates”.

    I’m not sure if 22H2 is out for Windows 10 as well?

    What’s new for IT pros link

    Reduced package size link

    “With this update we’re also taking steps to improve the Windows Update experience. Windows Update is now carbon aware, making it easier for your devices to reduce carbon emissions. When devices are plugged in, turned on, connected to the Internet and regional carbon intensity data is available, Windows Update will schedule installations at specific times of the day when doing so may result in lower carbon emissions because a higher proportion of electricity is coming from lower-carbon sources on the electric grid. We’ve also made some changes to the default power setting for Sleep and Screen off to help reduce carbon emissions when PCs are idle.”

    Say what?  How about just making sure that they are bug free will ya?

  • Did you miss this Microsoft news item?


    • Edge 105 came out and if you used 0&0shutup10 to tune telemetry for Edge it may not start.  Plus member CyberSar figured out the fix.
    • Foldable laptop? Are you ready for it? I probably don’t want to know how much it costs!!
    • We’re still tracking the ability to bypass a Microsoft account setup in 22H2.  Keep the machine offline during setup and “At the Oops, you’ve lost connection screen (or as early as language selection), press Shift + F10 then enter in the cmd window: OOBE\BYPASSNRO”  If anything changes, we’ll keep you informed!  22H2 is still not out but it looks like it’s getting closer to release.
    • Don’t forget to update your Apple phones,  there was a webkit zero day released earlier this week.


    What new things have you seen this week?

  • So they tortured Windows 10 users first?

    Windows Update on Twitter: “We’ll be introducing the search highlights feature to Windows 11 over the next several weeks. This feature presents notable and interesting moments unique to each day, such as holidays, anniversaries, and other educational moments.” / Twitter

    Okay you Windows 11 people, … or maybe person… listen up.  You get to enjoy Windows search highlights next!

    Remember you can disable this via registry, group policy and “Settings > Privacy & Security > Search Permissions > Show search highlights”

  • Ewaste or usable – week 3

    Do I need a traditional computer in the future?

    Week 1 here

    Week 2 here

    So this week I’m going to pause and ponder.  I’m going to ask the question …. do we NEED a computer?  Not necessarily a Windows computer, or even a Linux computer mind you. But do you NEED a traditional desktop or laptop to fit your needs? The answer for those of you currently using a traditional computer is probably yes. For now. But I want you to think about your needs in the future. Because I’m going to challenge you to tell me what application you currently use that needs a traditional computer (keyboard and monitor).

    If your primary need for your computer is email and surfing, you may want to consider something like a Galaxy Tab  or other tablet style of platform. Now that said, I still come across retail web sites that just act weird on a Safari browser on an ipad and I have to flip over to a normal computer.  So sometimes mobile browsers don’t act the same … or rather web sites aren’t coded up correctly to handle mobile browsers.

    But this is changing as more and more people are moving to smart phones  and tablets versus using computers. There are (supposedly) 6.648 Billion with a B smart phones in the world. There are only 1.4 billion Windows devices. I personally know several people that have no Windows devices at home and only have android tablets and phones.

    Now I will be the first to admit that depending on my needs I can live without a ten key while I’m travelling, but living without a keyboard is hard. I have no idea how the kids “thumb” their way through their smart phone and can quickly compose something. Now that probably explains the number of typos and how everyone has lousy handwriting these days, but I’m definitely of the generation that I am not productive even answering an email without a QWERTY keyboard.

    Now these days you can get keyboards that connect via bluetooth to tablets and even Kindle devices that allow you to have a QWERTY experience with a tablet so that you can get the composing ability you need when you are in my age group.

    But think about what drives you to have a traditional computer, and specifically what drives you to have a Windows computer? For businesses, it’s much more clear cut, we have legacy business software that requires us to stay on Windows (or remote into one). This is one of the reasons we still have so many security issues with Windows, it’s these years of legacy code that backwards compatibility demands. At one point in time Apple had the advantage due to the fact that Apple started over and threw out their legacy. These days they are ticking up in security issues so they are starting to have their own “legacy” issues and getting more targeted especially on the mobile platform.

    At home we may have less need for older legacy software that is unique to the Windows platform. Or if the software is under active development, they are moving to web based or mobile options (case in point, Turbotax has both a web version and a Mac version).

    In small businesses what I’m seeing is that my vendors are pivoting to subscription models that are getting increasingly expensive and thus making the cost analysis between the subscription web and the now mandated subscription desktop software such that the desktop is now getting prettttttyyyyyyy expensive.  I’m specifically thinking of QuickBooks. A few years ago QuickBooks Enterprise moved to a subscription model. This year for 2022 they moved normal QuickBooks desktop to the subscription model as well. So in the past if a small business needed QuickBooks and payroll, you would buy QuickBooks desktop once every two and a half years along with the yearly QuickBooks payroll subscription.  It was an acceptable cost of doing business. Now you have to pay an annual subscription for QuickBooks AND for QuickBooks payroll. Needless to say QuickBooks desktop’s price tag just went way way up. So the vendors are now slowly moving/pushing us firstly to subscription models and then secondly to web only platforms.  More and more people are asking around if there are accounting alternatives (hint there are some like Wave and Xero but again, they are web based and thus don’t demand windows). Even Microsoft keeps pushing us to subscription and web versions rather than the “sticky” desktop software.

    So my question to you is…. why do you need a traditional computer?  What specifically keeps you on the traditional desktop or laptop form? What can you not do on a tablet or mobile phone?  What software do you use that will only work on the traditional desktop or laptop format?

  • Microsoft’s announcements this week

    Q: So Susan, I see that Microsoft held this event this week to make announcements regarding hybrid work, what are your thoughts about what was discussed?

    A.  Well, it’s like this. While as you can imagine I’m totally excited about the security announcements, but I’m a realist. So I ALWAYS look a these announcements with either my home computer or my small business computing needs in mind.  Too many of Microsoft’s security these days are hooked to subscription enterprise licenses so while all of these security announcements sound cool, unless normal users like you can I can take advantage of this, it’s not keeping us secure.

    Q. What do you mean?

    A: Well take this list:    The Windows 11 Security Announcements include Pluton (new security specific chip) SHIPPING, HVCI/VBS (Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI) ) on default ALL CPUs, Credguard default ON, LSASS Protection default ON, EXE signed or rep REQUIRED, Script Blocking from Internet ON, Enhanced Phishing ON, File Layer Encryption with Hello ON.  Some of those features I KNOW are only in Enterprise and in E3 or E5 and thus only available for businesses with subscription agreements.  So like ” In the future, Credential Guard will be enabled by default for organizations using the Enterprise edition of Windows 11. ”  Translation – that’s businesses with enterprise subscription agreements ONLY. You and I won’t be able to get that.

    Q. But isn’t security important for Enterprises?

    A. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love security enhancements.  It PAINS me every time someone in the forum talks about how they still run Windows XP and they consider it secure (If you still are using it and it’s connected to the Internet and not isolated, it’s honestly not, you can’t install a modern browser on it) or love Windows 7 (I’ll be covering Windows 7 and the future in this week’s newsletter — stay tuned). But it also PAINS me every time something that I feel should be available to all Windows users from home users to small business to big business without restriction.  For example “The enhanced phishing detection and protection built into Windows with Microsoft Defender SmartScreen will help protect users from phishing attacks by identifying and alerting users when they are entering their Microsoft credentials into a malicious application or hacked website”.  That shouldn’t just be for “Microsoft credentials”.  That should be ANY credentials.  And it remains to be seen if that’s tied to certain Enterprise only subscription models.

    Q. What about this new thing called “Smart app control “that prevents users from running malicious applications on Windows devices that default blocks untrusted or unsigned applications. Smart App Control goes beyond previous built-in browser protections and is woven directly into the core of the OS at the process level. Using code signing along with AI, our new Smart App Control only allows processes to run that are predicted to be safe based on either code certificates or an AI model for application trust within the Microsoft cloud. Model inference occurs 24 hours a day on the latest threat intelligence that provides trillions of signals. When a new application is run on Windows 11, its core signing and core features are checked against this model, ensuring only known safe applications are allowed to run. This means Windows 11 users can be confident they are using only safe and reliable applications on their new Windows devices. Smart App Control will ship on new devices with Windows 11 installed. Devices running previous versions of Windows 11 will have to be reset and have a clean installation of Windows 11 to take advantage of this feature. “

    A. First off have you tried buying a computer or laptop right now?  Most/many of my IT folks are scrambling to buy equipment because of supply chain issues. Next “clean installation of Windows 11” is a heavy burden.  Do you know where all of your product keys are?  I guarantee there is some older app you probably will have a hard time reinstalling clean. Finally – and again – what license is needed for this?  And show me a home user or small business and I GUARANTEE you that I STILL find an application that isn’t code signed.  So I’m going to bet that we’re going to have to either whitelist apps or find workarounds. Realistically this only will be helpful in an Office only worker computer – someone that only uses Windows and Office, not a key line of business type of computer.

    Q. So these announcements weren’t important?

    A. No, I’m not saying that.  I’m just saying that I don’t parrot public relations blasts and immediately post about them. That’s not what we’re about here at  I wait until actual software is released, I can test it, I can see if it’s useful (or not) and most importantly to me and I’m sure the readers of, I wait to see how it’s licensed.  If it’s not either default to all users – or reasonably priced – it’s not going to be a realistic security solution to the folks that need help.  We’re about what really works here on, not what isn’t yet released.  So the readers of will get reality, not public relations blasts regurgitation.

    Q. You always plan to talk to yourself like this and ask yourself questions?

    A. It’s Friday.  What can I say.  Have a good weekend all.  Patch Tuesday is next week, make sure you defer those updates!

  • First new Windows 11 functionality released in a cumulative update

    Microsoft has released February 15, 2022—KB5010414 (OS Build 22000.527) Preview ( Even though the title has “Preview” in it, this update is being released to everyone today. In addition to a long list of fixes, there is a new media player and notepad. Taskbar changes include adding the clock and date to multiple monitors. When the taskbar is center aligned the weather now appears on the taskbar at the left. An Amazon app store preview app is available in the Microsoft Store. See the above release notes for more details.

    Here is the blog post that Panos Panay published about this release – Bringing you closer to what you love with new experiences in Windows 11 | Windows Experience Blog.

    (Note from Susan – this is a preview update and will not be pushed to all, you have to ‘check for updates’ to get it. It WILL be in the next month’s cumulative update – look for the Alert for more info)

  • Clearly they didn’t get my feedback

    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.

  • New format to Firefox annoying you?

    I’ve seen several people ask about this so I’ll showcase the workaround here from AskVG and thePlannerGuy:

    Planner guy said:

    Firefox 91 – You can still maintain the look and feel of the classic Firefox interface in Firefox 91 and do not have to resort to the ESR versions. I don’t pretend this is for the faint of heart, but I’m not a programmer at all and was able to make this work.

    First make a complete backup of your Firefox profile before attempting this. If it fails, you’ll want to restore this profile.

    Locate your profile folder
    Click the menu button, click Help and select More Troubleshooting Information. The Troubleshooting Information tab will open. Under the Application Basics section next to Profile Folder, click Open Folder. Your profile folder will open.


    (Note this is just a sample from my computer – your profile name info will be different)

    Backing up your profile
    To back up your profile, first close Firefox if it is open and then copy the profile folder to another location. Locate your profile folder, as explained above. Close Firefox (if open): Click the Firefox menu and select Exit.     Go to one level above your profile’s folder, i.e. to %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ Right-click on your profile folder (e.g. xxxxxxxx.default), and select Copy. Right-click the backup location (e.g. a USB-stick or a blank CD-RW disc), and select Paste.

    Go up one folder and copy the folder to another location

    Just go to where you can click on the link “Classic.”

    There you can download the “userchrome.css” file (or use the one I’ve uploaded to this posting – just change the file name to userchrome.css). Unfortunately, you can’t just download the file (why make it easy for us?). You’ll need to paint and copy the entire file to a text file on your computer — and name the file userchrome.css. If you replace the userchrome.css file in your Firefox profile with this one, you can restore the classic Firefox interface.  (Or you can download the stylesheet from the ASKvg site extract it to your computer and copy and paste as noted below)

    Note: This assumes that you have already set up this custom style sheet option before, if not, merely download the file from the ASKvg post linked here.  Unzip it and you’ll need it in the next step. Find your profile folder as shown above. Right mouse click on new and make a new folder called chrome if there isn’t one there already.

     Copy the userChrome.css under this folder

     Next you will need to you must go into about:config and set “toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets” to “true” to enable these customizations. If you don’t, Firefox will ignore your userChrome.css and userContent.css files.

    Click through the warning

    In the search box look for toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets

    Change to true by clicking on those funky arrow keys on the right hand side.

    This file is built on the old add-ons <span class=”pl-c”>Classic Theme Restorer & Classic Toolbar Buttons. You can activate specific lines by deleting the “/” at the beginning of a line. Among a slew of customizations you can make to the classic Firefox interface this css file provides, you can move the bookmarks toolbar above your tabs as the gods originally intended. You can control the toolbar buttons,  customize back and forward buttons, tab appearance and position, and customize a slew of other interface features.</span>

    Note the instruction in the file to enable this preference or custom styles will not be loaded:
    about:config > toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets > true

    I stress, however, make a backup of your Firefox profile before replacing the existing userchrome.css file and keep a backup of the userchrome.css file you download from GitHub. You will need to experiment — a lot — with the changes you make to this customized userchrome.css file. Keep very close track of the changes you make so you can reverse those you don’t like. It takes some time, but you can use this to make Firefox look the way you want as Mozilla updates the browser again and again.

    If I was able to make this work, anybody who reads AskWoody can.

    (thank you Planner guy for the detailed info!)