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ISSUE 19.08.1 • 2022-02-22
MS-DEFCON 5: A very quiet February


By Susan Bradley

For the first time in an extremely long time, this month of patching has been so quiet that I’m changing the patching status to the magical level of 5.

All’s clear. Patch while it’s safe!

Don’t blink, because it may not happen again. There are so few issues that it feels too quiet, like the calm before the storm. The only thing I’m tracking is a few reports on issues with the 2012 R2 print server, because it broke printing on DataMax label and badge printers. However, I’m not tracking any issues with standalone printers.

I urge consumer and home users to install updates during this quiet period. Remove any pause on updates, or use your deferral tool of choice to go back to normal patching.

Microsoft isn’t quite so quiet when it comes to upcoming changes to Windows 11. The preview update released on February 15 in the form of KB5010414 includes what I call the “dribbling out” of feature releases. Remember: Microsoft promised that feature releases to Windows 11 would follow a once-per-year cycle, exactly what we all wanted and asked for.

However, the reality is different. Microsoft plans to dribble out changes throughout the year via “enablement.” This process stages changes during the monthly updates and then later turns them on in an update.

This preview update includes the following changes:

  • Provides the ability to share cookies between Microsoft Edge in Internet Explorer mode and Microsoft Edge.
  • Adds the clock and date to the taskbars of other monitors when you connect those monitors to your device.
  • Adds weather content to the left side of the taskbar — if the taskbar is aligned in the center. When you hover over the weather, the Widgets panel will appear on the left side of the screen and will disappear when you stop hovering over the area.
More changes ahead for Windows 11

In its Insider Preview version of Windows 11 (specifically, version 22577), Microsoft is testing a much-requested feature: preview of items within folders. Many users have music albums and have long lamented the loss of the images on folders. Microsoft has stated that not all items tested in the Insider process will make it to the final release, but here’s hoping that this thumbnail view will make it out of testing — because restoration of that feature is often mentioned in the forums.

Apple users

Apple released fixes for the MacOS Monterey 12.2.1, which included an annoying Bluetooth battery-drain bug that MacBook users have been dealing with. Apple said the fix is for Intel MacBooks; however, both M1 and Intel MacBook users have experienced the problem. On February 14, Apple released Big Sur 11.6.4 and macOS Catalina Security Update 2022-002. Days later, however, Apple had not released details on exactly what security updates were fixed in these releases. Apple’s language is “This update has no published CVE entries,” with no further details.

I have not seen any side effects on my Mac and recommend you install these updates.

21H2 now recommended

For those of you running Windows 10, I am now recommending 21H2 as the feature release that you should be on. The update is extremely fast if you are currently running 21H1.

If you are looking for a great way to check what feature release you are on, as well as ensuring that you keep your PC on a specific version, I recommend that you check out Steve Gibson’s new freeware tool, InControl. It uses Gibson’s iconic, minimalist GUI to allow you to keep your machine on a specific Windows 10 feature release until you are ready to move on. It can also ward off Windows 11 until you are ready.

All it does is set the registry keys we’ve all used for so long, but it’s a lot simpler to use. Gibson’s freeware tools have a long-standing reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. Take a look.

I continue to investigate reports of Windows 11 being pushed to machines rather than merely “offered.” Although I have many credible reports from users that Windows 11 suddenly “showed up” on their computer, I have been unable to independently verify that Windows 11 is being pushed by Microsoft. My sense is that there is some third-party thing triggering the inadvertent installation of Windows 11, but I have been unable to gain enough evidence and log files to prove it. The good news is that with InControl, you can explicitly ensure that Windows 11 is kept at bay.

Business users

If you manage Apple devices in a Windows active directory network, be aware that Microsoft’s November security update for servers adversely impacts joining Apple devices to an Active Directory domain. Apple noted that

This matches a known issue that we are investigating with Microsoft. It appears the core problem has been identified and Microsoft will be releasing a fix to address this.

If you run Apple devices in a Microsoft domain, set the registry key for PacRequestorEnforcement to “1” and test that macOS devices are able to communicate to the domain controller.

Fortunately, Windows devices are able to properly communicate to the domain and to one another. This issue is isolated to Apple devices.

For Windows networks, I am not tracking any significant side effects and recommend that February updates be installed.



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