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  • Is Microsoft hinting that the Surface Pro 4 ‘flickergate’ is a hardware problem?

    Posted on March 21st, 2018 at 12:47 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    There’s a little bit of a breakthrough on the Microsoft Answers forum — not really a confession or a solution, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

    Some hope for a billion-dollar business.

    Computerworld Woody on Windows.

  • When should you move on to the next Win10 version?

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 14:03 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    UPDATE: See Computerworld Woody on Windows.

    Just got a note from Noel Carboni:

    Let’s say I’m a small business owner and further let’s say I’d like to use Windows 10 Pro because Enterprise licensing doesn’t fit my business model…  Pro is, after all, the variant that Microsoft claims should suit the needs of small business.

    The question is this:

    When should I adopt each new Windows 10 release?

    Back a year or two ago there was the concept of Current Branch for Business (CBB).  Promotion of the current “version/build” of Windows 10 to CBB status was essentially the time when Microsoft admitted, “The most important feedback from all the unpaid beta testers of Windows 10 has been applied to the current version/build of Windows 10, and we’ve gotten it functional and stable.”  Of course there were still some glitches, but the various Windows 10 builds we’ve seen actually did get reasonably stable and usable at the time of CBB.

    Problem is, the “CBB” terminology is now long gone, yet as much as ever the need remains.

    So, assuming I’d like to install “CBB quality” builds to replace prior installs…

    Is there a way we can identify when Windows 10 becomes good enough for serious use?

    Specifically, I mean a time when we can go download a specific ISO file that would represent an upgrade from the previous “version/build” of Windows 10 to the next stable, usable version, already patched to the current level, without having to nurse it through all the problematic updates?

    I have a glib answer, but it’s not sufficient for most people — including me. When Microsoft announced that 1709 hit “Semi-Annual Channel” that was supposed to be analogous to declaring 1709 CBB.

    Traditionally, though, I’ve waited beyond CBB before installing a new version, just to see if anything crawls out of the woodwork. Only when I’m sure the version is stable and getting updated properly will I move on to the next version (and, along the way, urge others to do the same).

    We’ve never hit that point with 1709 — the problems with the Delta updates only seem to hit 1709, and I’m just not comfortable with it. So I’m sticking with 1703, until we have a pretty clean month of updates.

    Here’s the key question: Are the benefits of a new version worth the potential headaches of upgrading. With new Win10 versions arriving every six months, you don’t have a whole heck of a lot of time to answer that question reliably.

    In the case of 1709, I see very, very few useful improvements. Are they worth the potential problems of upgrading? For me, I say no. But I may change my tune in the next month — after which it’s a mute point, as a version upgrade after mid-April will land you in 1803.

  • Puh-leeeeze: Microsoft says it’s listening to us and will reduce version upgrades to 30 minutes

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 07:15 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The Windows echosphere is busy parroting the latest Microsoft “advancement.” According to a Windows Insider blog post:

    We’re listening to you — feature update improvements

    We’ve heard your feedback about the lengthy amount of time your PC is unusable during a feature update installation, and we’ve been working on ways to decrease this time… For the Creators Update released in April of 2017, the average offline time for a user was approximately 82 minutes… the average offline time for the Fall Creator’s Update released last October has dropped to 51 minutes, a 38% improvement!… We’ve done additional work in the upcoming Windows release to move portions of migration operations to the online phase as well. This has resulted in an overall reduction of offline time when installing builds in the Insiders Program to an average of 30 minutes. That’s a reduction of 63% from the Creators Update!

    I have a few admittedly snide observations about that breathless! achievement!

    First… good grief, the average blackout time for the Creators Update (version 1703) was 82 minutes? That’s unconscionable. 30 minutes is better, sure, but gimme a break.

    With Windows versions rolling out twice a year, why hasn’t Microsoft figured out a way to make the version changes happen in just a few minutes – or even seconds? That’s what Google does with ChromeOS.

    Sure, Windows is more powerful than ChromeOS. But why can’t it be more responsive, too?

  • Windows 10 Enterprise: Does setting telemetry to zero disable cumulative updates?

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 06:17 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A very interesting post this morning from Günter Born. In a nutshell:

    • If you’re running Win10 Enterprise
    • And you aren’t connected to an update server
    • And you set the level of telemetry to “Security data only” (HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\DataCollection\AllowTelemetry set to 0)

    You don’t get any cumulative updates.

    Sounds like a bug to me. Can anyone out there confirm?

    UPDATE: @teroalhonen pointed me to the Microsoft documentation for the AllowTelemetry setting:

    Security level

    The Security level gathers only the diagnostic data info that is required to keep Windows devices, Windows Server, and guests protected with the latest security updates. This level is only available on Windows Server 2016, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education, Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, and Windows IoT Core editions.


    If your organization relies on Windows Update for updates, you shouldn’t use the Security level. Because no Windows Update information is gathered at this level, important information about update failures is not sent. Microsoft uses this information to fix the causes of those failures and improve the quality of our updates.

    Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager functionality is not affected at this level, nor is diagnostic data data about Windows Server features or System Center gathered.

    Sure enough — it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

  • We’re still at MS-DEFCON 2

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 06:03 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If you’re worried about all of the patches, manual installation sequences, and other mind-boggling things, don’t be.

    We’re still at MS-DEFCON 2 — don’t patch unless you have an overwhelming need to install a specific patch.

    The MS-DEFCON system is designed for folks who don’t want to sweat the details. If you aren’t particularly interested in sorting through the offal, wait for the MS-DEFCON number to change.

    Each time I raise the MS-DEFCON level, I have detailed instructions on what you need to do to keep your ship afloat. Unlike Susan (see below), I recommend that you defer “quality updates” (read “cumulative updates”) for the full 35 days, then set the spinner down to 0 when you’re ready to install a specific cumulative update. I also recommend that you set Win7 and 8.1 to “check but don’t download.” I include full instructions for both of those settings in every month’s Computerworld “go ahead” article.

    For now, unless you need to sort through the patching details, just hold tight.

  • Patch Lady – some comments about the master listing

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 at 01:23 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So let me explain a bit about my patch chart this month and some of the optional items.

    First off let’s draw a line in the sand between Windows 10 and Windows 7, as they are two different patching beasts.

    Next let’s draw a line in the sand between Office 2010 and Office 2013, 2016 and the upcoming office.

    Let’s take Windows 10 first.  You can control it’s updates and not have it control you as long as you understand one basic concept:  You must have Pro version in order to give you the ability to easily hook into the Windows update for business patching policies to defer updates.  I am NOT a fan of deferring updates forever.  I do recommend that you try not to be part of the beta testing team of updates and unfortunately, and too often, if you install updates on the day they are released, often you end up as part of the unofficial beta testing team.

    With the pro version of windows 10 you can put in place an option to defer updates for at least a week.  That is the normal time that we see issues shake out after Patch Tuesday. To do this on Pro, click on start, settings, update and security, advanced and then put your settings as follows:


    Note:  You can also pause updates for up to 35 days if you hear of major issues.

    For Windows 7, the recommendation I give is to set updates to “download but do not install”.  This stages them ready to go but does not install them until you are ready to.

    I honestly would think carefully about why you want the security only updates. Not every non security update is a telemetry one.  Often there are fixes in the non security updates that fix issues introduced by the security ones.  Not every optional patch is a bad thing.

    Now let’s talk about Office updating.  Office has “old way” and “new way”.  Old way means that you get offered up individual updates for Office if your version supports that.  This “old way” is default for Office 2010 and for those that purchase Office 2016 via volume license.  If you have purchased Office via Office 365 you are on the “new way” called click to run.  Click to run does its updating automatically and in the background.  It starts to trickle out during the second week of the month. 

    For those on the “old way”, you often decide to install only the security updates and not the non security updates.  But doing so, means that you got nailed this month by a dependency.  The security update for Word depended on the non security update to properly let the application open up files.  If you failed to install the earlier non security update from the week before, you saw the side effect.  If you installed it, you didn’t see the side effect.

    Because Click to Run installs both security and non security updates at the same time, you get both at the same time, thus ensuring that you won’t see the issue that nailed all of us folks who want to only get the security updates. 

    For click to run installs I’ve noticed that many of the side effects come if you are on the “monthly” release and not the semi-annual channel.  As you can see in the master Office issue listing located here, there’s a known issue for the monthly click to run that’s been addressed:

    Outlook known issues in the March 2018 updates

    Meeting location updates are not reflected in recipient calendar [FIXED]

    Last updated: March 14, 2018


    After updating to Version 1803 (Build 9126.2072), you may find that when you open an existing meeting in the calendar and send an update with updated location, the recipient still sees the old location. If you review the item in the Sent Items folder it shows the old location and was not updated.

    Note: This issue only affects Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) and Monthly Channel (Targeted) versions using builds 9126.2072 and higher.


    This issue is fixed by a change in the service. Restarting Outlook should fix the issue but you may have to restart Outlook up to three times to pick up the change.

    Information for this issue is also provided in this article: Meeting location updates are not reflected in recipient calendar in Outlook 2016.



    There is a way to opt out of the monthly channel and move to the semi-annual.  I’ll post on that tomorrow, just know that click to run has a monthly update cycle, a semi-annual targeted and then a semi-annual channel.  It’s a little bit confusing, I know, but all of this is about offering up feature releases.

    For my specific March master patch listing, I listed several Windows 10 updates as “optional” just because of the unusual release of updates in March.  We had several out of band fixes to Windows 10 1709 and 1703 due to various issues including fixes for inaccessible boot device and loss of usb devices.  If you didn’t happen to catch those extra updates that were released for 1709 there was no harm, no foul as they didn’t include any new security updates, and if you waited until the normal March second week releases, you’d get the same code plus the new security fixes for the month.

    One other thought to ponder, I know many here install updates manually from the catalog, but there is risk in manually patching and not letting Microsoft update or Windows update do it’s thing.   Take for example the Windows 10 servicing stack update of KB4090914 that has a warning that you should install it in a certain order:

    When installing both the servicing stack update and the latest cumulative update from the Microsoft Update Catalog, install the servicing stack update before you install the cumulative update.

    When you manually install updates you may end up with patches in an order that Microsoft didn’t intend.  So if you manually install updates make sure you read the KB articles for any patch dependencies and order directions in the information.  I’ll also recommend that anyone on the Windows 7 platform every now and then do a manual scan for updates just to see what is offered to you.  Remember that often you will get Office updates offered up for platforms you don’t think you have only because when you do inplace upgrades, there is often dlls and files left over from the prior version.  Also if you install new business software, it often installs older C+ runtimes and .net files that need updates.  So often you’ll think you are up to date… and you aren’t.  Stay tuned there is even a way to do this manual scan in Windows 10 by using PowerShell. 

  • Microsoft still offering this month’s Word 2016 patch, KB 4011730

    Posted on March 19th, 2018 at 13:32 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Remember KB 4011730, the security patch for Word 2016 that clobbers Word unless you install the non-security patch KB 4018295? Susan Bradley, Patch Lady, described the symptoms on March 14.

    Microsoft hasn’t pulled the patch. It’s still available in the Update Catalog. Hasn’t pulled it, hasn’t fixed it. At least they’ve acknowledge the bug.

    Rick Podrick just tweeted:

    MS still hasn’t pulled KB4011730, the Word 2016 patch that kills the minor function of opening/saving Word files. It appears to happen for everyone. What is MS thinking, since this is clear-cut?

    Very good point, that.

  • Movin’ on up

    Posted on March 19th, 2018 at 11:58 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    We’re in the process of changing to a more secure, more resilient, and much faster server.

    Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that before. With our growth rate (the Lounge didn’t exist until a year ago!), it’s very hard to keep up.

    Might take a day or two, but I think you’ll notice a difference.

    Be braced for a little hiccup soon, followed by (Oh man, I hope) clear sailing.