ISSUE 17.47.F • 2020-11-30


The AskWoody Newsletter

In this issue

PATCH WATCH: Time to wrap up November updating — no bow required

BEST OF THE LOUNGE: Microsoft 365 rant

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Special issue

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Time to wrap up November updating — no bow required

Susan Bradley

By Susan Bradley

By now, you should be getting over the side effects of too much turkey and pie.

Getting over some Windows upgrading issues might not be as easy.

It appears that there’s a sizable number of Win10 1909 users who are blocked from moving up to Versions 2004 or 20H2. Last week, I discussed one blocker: Conexant audio drivers. We still don’t have information on when or how this issue will be resolved.

Some 1909 users are taking a more assertive approach: disabling the Conexant drivers and forcing the upgrade, a process that installs Windows’ generic audio drivers. The downside? You’ll have audio but will lose any of the enhanced sound features included in the Conexant software.

For now, the best bet is to be patient and wait for a formal fix. For most Windows users, there’s no compelling need to migrate up from Version 1909.

Thunderbolt NVMe SSD blocking upgrades

Some of these Win10 2004/20H2 blocks get exceptionally specific. For example, Microsoft’s list of known issues for its latest Win10 releases notes possible stop errors when plugging in external, Thunderbolt-connected NVMe solid-state drives. The fault could result in a blue screen and the error message “DRIVER_VERIFIER_DMA_VIOLATION (e6) An illegal DMA operation was attempted by a driver being verified.” Afflicted Win10 devices are those with at least one Thunderbolt port and a current version of the stornvme.sys driver file.

Version 20H2 housekeeping errors

Some faults are more annoying than dangerous. For example, a few systems, newly upgraded to 20H2, constantly issue “ESENT Warning Event ID 642” warnings in application event logs. So far, the only documentation for this issue is a cryptic note in a Windows Insider Blog post that states, “Based on feedback, we’re turning off ESENT Warning Event ID 642.”

The warnings refer to the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) service and its related ESENT.DLL, included in all releases of Windows since Version 2000. ESE is used by a number of Windows components such as Windows Update and various applications. Again, the Event 642 entries show up in application event logs (Figure 1), and the issue first occurred in Win10 2004. I don’t consider this a true error. However, this event log “chattiness” is impacting performance on some PCs.

ESENT warnings in log
Figure 1. Application event log with repeated ESENT warnings

Does your antivirus app support 2004 or 20H2?

This might sound like a silly question. Surely, most third-party anti-malware tools are automatically updated? Yes, they are — for the release of Win10 you’re currently running. That doesn’t mean they’ll automatically support a newer version of Windows immediately after an upgrade.

Here’s proof: There are reports in the Microsoft Community forum of system freezes after migrating to 2004 or 20H2. My advice: If you’re running into issues after an upgrade, and you’re using a non-Microsoft AV product, remove the third-party app and use the built-in Windows Defender for a while. (You might find that it’s all you need.)

If the problems disappear, and you still want another brand of AV utility, try a fresh copy. Sometimes a quick AV uninstall/re-install is an easy cure for a balky PC.

That trick applies to other software as well. After a major upgrade, check that all installed apps and drivers are fully up to date.

No plans to install Intel microcode updates

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I’m not convinced microcode updates are needed on consumer/home computers. As I reported in the previous Patch Watch, the November microcode patches target versions of Intel Avoton, Sandy Bridge, and Valley View/Baytrail processors. If your system has one of these CPUs, Windows Update should detect it and offer one of the updates listed below in the Windows 10 patch list section.

In the past, Microsoft has released microcode updates to block various security threats such as Spectre 1, 2, 3, 3a, 4; L1TF; MDS; and Retpoline. But I ended up uninstalling those patches because they slowed down my machines. This time around (November), none of my current systems has the targeted chipsets, so I didn’t see any microcode fixes in Windows Update. If I had, I would’ve hidden or uninstalled them.

I think a better plan is to look for BIOS updates on your PC’s support site. Years ago, BIOS updating was a bit scary. But in recent years, I’ve found the process to be relatively easy and problem-free.

Previews for December updates

On November 19, Microsoft released preview updates for Windows 10 and .NET Framework. It also posted the notification: “Important: Because of minimal operations during the holidays and the upcoming Western new year, there won’t be a preview release (known as a “C” release) for the month of December 2020.”

Windows 10 preview updates include:

  • 4586819 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4586839 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019

.NET Framework preview updates:

  • 4586878 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4588962 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019
Special out-of-band updates

Along with the previews, Microsoft released a batch of special patches that won’t show up in Windows update. They’re primarily for domain controllers and are designed to fix Kerberos issues.

Optional .NET updates

November’s .NET Framework updates did not include any new security fixes. But if you accidentally installed any of the following, don’t worry; I haven’t run across any side effects.

  • 4580419 for Versions 2004 and 20H2
  • 4580980 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4586082 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019
  • 4585210 for Version 1803 (Enterprise and Education editions only)
  • 4585208 for Version 1703 (Surface Hub devices)
  • 4585207 for Version 1607 (Long-Term Servicing Channels) and Server 2016
November update summary

Here’s the recap of this month’s patches. See my cumulative account of patches on the AskWoody Master Patch List page.)

- What to do: Ensure you’ve backed up your system and then install the following updates. Most of the outstanding problems with Versions 20H2 and 2004 have reasonable workarounds or are of interest to IT pros managing back-end services.

Windows 10

Reminder! Win10 1703 is no longer supported. So there are, and will be, no new patches for this version.

Servicing-stack updates

(There are no servicing-stack updates this month for Versions 1803, 1709, or 1607.)

  • 4586864 for Versions 2004 and 20H2
  • 4586863 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4587735 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019

Cumulative updates

  • 4586781 for Versions 2004 and 20H2
  • 4586786 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4586793 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019
  • 4586785 for Version 1803 (Enterprise and Education editions only)
  • 4586782 for Version 1703 (Surface Hub devices)
  • 4586830 for Version 1607 (Long-Term Servicing Channels) and Server 2016

Intel Microcode updates

  • 4589212 for Versions 2004 and 20H2
  • 4589211 for Versions 1903 and 1909
  • 4589208 for Versions 1809 and Server 2019
  • 4589206 for Version 1803 (Enterprise and Education editions only)
  • 4589210 for Version 1607 (Long-Term Servicing Channels) and Server 2016
  • 4589198 for Version 1507 (Long-Term Servicing Channels)
Windows 8.1/Server 2012 R2

(There are no November servicing-stack updates.)

  • 4586845 – Monthly rollup
  • 4586823 – Security-only
  • 4586768 – Internet Explorer (needed only with security-only patch)
Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • 4586827 – Monthly rollup
  • 4586805 – Security-only
  • 4586768 – Internet Explorer (needed only with security-only patch)
Server 2012
  • 4586834 – Monthly rollup
  • 4586808 – Security-only
  • 4586768 – Internet Explorer (needed only with security-only patch)
Windows Server 2008 SP2
  • 4586807 – Monthly rollup
  • 4586817 – Security-only
  • 4586768 – Internet Explorer (needed only with security-only patch)
Office Click-to-Run (Microsoft 365) updates

The November CtR updates include:

  • Current Channel (monthly), Version 2010 (13328.20356)
  • Monthly Enterprise Channel, Version 2009 (13231.20514)
  • Monthly Enterprise Channel, Version 2008 (13127.20760)
  • Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel (Preview), Version 2008 (13127.20760)
  • Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel, Version 2002 (12527.21330)
  • Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel, Version 1908 (11929.20974)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps on Win7 (12527.21330)
  • Office 2019 Retail (13328.20356)
  • Office 2016 Retail (13328.20356)
  • Office 2019 Volume License, Version 1808 (10368.20035)

(Some CtR Office users defer updates by temporarily disabling the updating process.)

Standalone Office security and non-security updates

November’s security updates patch one or more remote code execution vulnerabilities.

Office 2016

Office 2013 SP1

Office 2010 SP2

Office non-security enhancements and fixes

Office 2016

  • 4484397 – Office; Quick Parts for look-up field displays incorrect values when Active Directory users sign in
  • 4486669 – Skype for Business; can’t use Lync SDK Automation to start PSTN phone calls
  • 4486680 – Office; VBA macros blocked
  • 4486712 – Project; various fixes
  • 4486720 – Outlook; Update changes default signature hash algorithm

Office 2013 SP1

  • None for October

Office 2010 SP1

  • None for October

As always, be safe.

Questions or comments? Feedback on this article is always welcome in the AskWoody Lounge!

In real life, Susan Bradley is a Microsoft Security MVP and IT wrangler at a California accounting firm, where she manages a fleet of servers, virtual machines, workstations, iPhones, and other digital devices. She also does forensic investigations of computer systems for the firm.

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