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ISSUE 20.48.1 • 2023-11-28
MS-DEFCON 3: A slightly bumpy November


By Susan Bradley Comment about this alert

For most Windows 10 and 11 users, including me, there have been no side effects as a result of November’s updates.

Nonetheless, there appear to be a few potholes in the road. That’s enough to make me cautious — I’m lowering the MS-DEFCON level to only 3.

One thing I did notice was updates taking more time to complete than usual — not a good sign. At the very least, it’s a good reason to take a look at the update history in Settings.

There does seem to be a smattering of problems with File Explorer and Start menus. We continue to examine this and will have a further report soon, but here’s some guidance. For Windows 11 22H2 and 23H2, keep KB5032190 in mind. For Windows 10, look for KB5032189. Though these problems are not widespread, anyone using third-party tools for file management or replacement start menus should make sure the tools are completely up to date. If there are still problems, uninstall these two updates. See my recent post Need to uninstall an update? for help, including my advice to pause updates until these matters are resolved.

Developers, developers, developers!

I’ve mentioned the arrival of Settings | System | For developers in both Windows 10 and 11. For Windows 11, the November update includes the new app Dev Home as a preview. I’m not exactly sure why Microsoft chose to create such a dashboard app, given that For developers seems to do the same things. But see Figure 1.

Dev Home app
Figure 1. The Machine configuration panel in the new Dev Home app for Windows 11

Dev Home lets developers quickly set up a customized development environment, install relevant extensions, easily clone repos from GitHub, monitor projects from a personalized dashboard, and even create a dedicated file system for development — the Dev Drive. The obvious target is developers, but it’s a general part of Windows — any type of user can configure the PC for developers on any type of Windows 11 PC. I’ve seen it on my boring accountant workstations.

Developer mode is not for everyone, as Microsoft makes clear in its Enable your device for development post:

If you’re using your computer for ordinary day-to-day activities (such as gaming, web browsing, email, or Office apps), you don’t need to activate Developer Mode, and in fact, you shouldn’t activate it.

However, if you’re writing software with Visual Studio on a computer for the first time, you will need to enable Developer Mode on both the development PC and on any devices you’ll use to test your code. Opening a UWP project when Developer Mode isn’t enabled will either open the For developers settings page, or cause [a warning dialog to appear in Visual Studio.]

It’s easy to disable Developer Mode in Settings, as shown in Figure 2.

Disable Developer Mode
Figure 2. Disable Developer Mode in Settings.

You can also completely remove the Dev Home app, using the following PowerShell command:

  • Get-AppxPackage *Windows.DevHome* | Remove-AppxPackage

Removing the app won’t impact your system in any way. And note that the above command removes the Dev Home app but does not affect Settings.

Many system administrators are wondering why we are all considered developers now!

Consumer and home users

For me, the biggest piece of news was learning that Windows Copilot would be dribbling out to Windows 10! It will be a staged release, coming first to Windows Insiders in the Release Preview channel and later to unmanaged systems. By “unmanaged,” Microsoft means any system that uses Windows Update. If your systems are patched through the auspices of some sort of third-party patching tool, Copilot will not automatically be pushed.

AI is top of mind again, with the chaos caused by the ousting of Sam Altman from OpenAI, his apparent move to Microsoft, and then his reinstatement at OpenAI. It’s hard to know how disruptive this might be for Copilot, but I’d rather wait for Copilot to move out of preview mode before taking it seriously. After all, the very fact that the icon for Copilot contains the letters “PRE” tells me Microsoft is beta testing, using us as its unwilling test subjects.

If you’d rather not be a participant in the AI revolution and want to wait for any bugs and issues to be resolved, remove Copilot from Windows (10 or 11) by downloading our Registry file to block Windows Copilot or by using our Group Policy files:

Note the above are for corporate patchers with a domain.

To use the local Group Policy editor to block Windows Copilot:

  1. Search for “gpedit” and click the top result to open the Group Policy Editor;
  2. Navigate to User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Copilot;
  3. Double-click the Turn off Windows Copilot policy;
  4. Select the Enabled option.

Correction: As originally published, item 4 in the list above incorrectly identified the option as “Disabled.” We apologize for the error. —Editor

Disabling Windows Copilot in the Local Group Policy Editor
Figure 3. Disabling Windows Copilot in Local Group Policy Editor

Caution about InControl

InControl, from Gibson Research, is my recommended tool for controlling Windows features. I particularly recommend it for keeping Windows 11 on 22H2. However, it’s important to keep in mind that InControl does not block security updates —  it controls only the feature releases.

If you want to push off and control updates, you will need to use one of the tools on the BlockAPatch page or merely choose the option to defer updates for several weeks. I mention this because I’ve seen some confusion about it in the forums.

Business users

For those of you with Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 who are not licensed for the Extended Security updates and who attempt to download and install any of the Server updates, you will note that they fail to install. Even though the updates may still be published to the Microsoft catalog, you will need ESU licensing to use them. I recommend that you review your options to isolate or migrate as soon as you can.

If you’ve begun the rollout of Windows 11 23H2 in your firm, you’ll note that Microsoft has included “Chat is now Microsoft Teams (free!) and is pinned by default to the taskbar.”

If you want to keep track of what Microsoft has dribbled out over the past few months in Windows 11 22H2, the best way to do so is to bookmark and follow the Microsoft page Features added to Windows 11 since version 22H2. Once you have installed the 23H2 release, the Touch-optimized taskbar for 2-in-1 devices, Copilot in Windows, the Dev Home app, and Dev Drive are immediately available.

Apple versions can make a difference

The other day, a friend complained that she couldn’t stream a yoga class from her iPad. She had recently moved from the East Coast, where high-speed fiber-optic services are readily available, to the “snowless” west, where we are a bit behind in rolling out fast Internet. As a result, she was finding it necessary to fiddle with video quality settings to make the streaming work better.

Like many of you, she relies on streaming for her entertainment needs and found that, whereas her Fire TV Stick worked relatively well, her iPad was causing her grief. She also has a newer iPhone, so I asked whether she had attempted to stream the video from it. Sure enough, the newer iPhone worked flawlessly.

Why wasn’t her iPad doing as well? It turns out that hers was an older model. It is still getting security updates (the latest came in October) and has plenty of storage, but it’s clearly starting to fall behind. Inevitably, she will need to use her new iPhone or more recent MacBook instead.

Although younger folks tend to use their phones for everything, many of us prefer larger displays for entertainment. So remember: You can obtain cables to connect your iPhone to a big TV so you don’t need to squint or use a magnifying glass to watch videos.

If something you want to watch doesn’t stream well (or at all) on one device, check your other devices to see whether they have the same kinds of problems. If so, the problem is not with your device but rather with the particular streaming service you are using or with your connection speed. Run a speed test from the problematic device to rule out any issues with the wireless or network connection. If the speed test is fine, and if streaming is good on other devices, you’re in my friend’s shoes — planned obsolescence.

Plan accordingly. Or just use another device.



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