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  • Microsoft will make business patching a bit easier

    Posted on September 13th, 2020 at 21:00 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    As I look over the September updates on this smoky, orange-colored day, I see some interesting changes coming for businesses.

    The forecast for September Windows and Office updating is a bit murky as well. Woody is already tracking a variety of patch flaws, and we don’t yet know whether they’re widespread or limited in scope.

    In one example, the Bitdefender AV application was blocking the cumulative update for Win10 1909/1903 (more info), but that’s already been fixed by the app’s vendor — so it’s no longer an issue.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.36.0 (2020-09-14).

  • Win10 optional updates placed on hold

    Posted on March 30th, 2020 at 01:05 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    As the world hunkers down in response to the COVID crisis, so does Microsoft.

    On March 24, the company announced it would pause optional non-security patches (C/D-week updates), starting in May. I assume the April releases are already mostly baked.

    The primary purpose of C/D-week updates — aka “previews” — is to let enterprises test non-security fixes before the formal releases go out — typically, two or three weeks later.

    Microsoft will reportedly continue to ship the official monthly cumulative updates, but with this announcement, the company is clearly putting its focus on critical security patching. In effect, Microsoft is acknowledging that both it and its customers already have a lot on their plates.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.12.0 (2020-03-30).

  • Questions on controlling Windows 10 updating

    Posted on March 2nd, 2020 at 01:10 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    With the end of free support for Windows 7, there’s a spate of new Win10 users.

    One of the most common questions I see from this group is how to manage the monthly updating task.

    Over its many revisions — culminating with Version 1909 — Windows 10 has come a long way toward making the patching experience more agreeable to rank-and-file users. But the key is to follow some important guidelines. Here are my rules for making Win10 updating as pain-free as possible.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.9.0 (2020-03-02).

  • The trials and tribulations of Windows 7

    Posted on February 17th, 2020 at 01:10 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    We’re starting the Windows 7 extended-support era … with more than our fair share of confusion.

    Before I shed some light on making Extended Security Updates (ESUs) work, here’s a bit of good news for all Win7 users.

    You might recall that the final free Win7 updates (January’s) included a bug that broke the “Stretch” wallpaper setting. Some systems ended up with black backgrounds. The easy fix was to use another “Choose a fit” option. But if “Stretch” is important to you — or you’d just like your Win7 copy to be as bug-free as possible — Microsoft released KB 4539601 to fix the flaw. Currently, however, you must manually download and install the patch.

    The February launch of extended-support updates got off to a shaky start.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.7.0 (2020-02-17).

  • Closing out the patching year …

    Posted on December 16th, 2019 at 01:05 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    This is a busy time for Windows upgrading.

    Win10 1803 officially fell into the bit bucket this past November; Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 will suffer the same fate this coming January.

    Upgrading to a newer version of Windows 10 should be relatively painless. But the shift will be far more difficult and consequential for the mass of PC users still running Win7.

    Security is obviously a concern for Win7 users, but Microsoft has stated that Security Essentials updates will also end in January. However, it’s likely that third-party browsers and anti-malware apps will continue to get updates for some unknown period of time. Based on the XP experience, it could be months or years.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.46.0 (2019-12-16).

  • October’s updates look promising; however …

    Posted on October 14th, 2019 at 01:10 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    PATCH WATCH

    By Susan Bradley

    First, a mea culpa: I said I was comfortable with installing the out-of-band Internet Explorer update released October 3. I have to take that back.

    The update was designed to block the new IE vulnerability CVE-2019-1367. The October 3 release was the third time Microsoft sent out essentially the same fix, but it’s the only one I’ve called a true out-of-band update. Unlike the two previous attempts, Microsoft pushed this patch out to everyone via the usual channels: Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Windows Update.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.37.0 (2019-10-14).

  • Another patching debacle — how we got here

    Posted on August 26th, 2019 at 01:15 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    WOODY’S WINDOWS WATCH

    By Woody Leonhard

    Frantic moves to fix this month’s Windows-update bugs highlight the dark underbelly of Microsoft’s patching strategy.

    August patches have been flying around like salmon in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Now that the major bugs are fixed — for the most part — it’s time to look at what happened and speculate on whether this type of debacle can be avoided in the future.

    Here’s the short version of events.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.30.0 (2019-08-26).

  • Windows Blog: “Data, insights and listening to improve the customer experience”

    Posted on March 7th, 2019 at 14:03 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Yesterday, Rob Mauceri and Jane Liles published a white paper on the Windows Blog that talks about using telemetry to figure out if a patch is ready for deployment:

    We approach each release with a straightforward question, “Is this Windows update ready for customers?” This is a question we ask for every build and every update of Windows, and it’s intended to confirm that automated and manual testing has occurred before we evaluate quality via diagnostic data and feedback-based metrics. After a build passes the initial quality gates and is ready for the next stages of evaluation, we measure quality based on the diagnostic data and feedback from our own engineers who aggressively self-host Windows to discover potential problems. We look for stability and improved quality in the data generated from internal testing, and only then do we consider releasing the build to Windows Insiders, after which we review the data again, looking specifically for failures.

    In other words, MS looks at the telemetry from dog food runs and, if all looks copacetic, the Insiders get it.

    I’m not going to snark about it (you folks can do that better than I). It’s obvious that the people involved have advanced tools at their disposal, they’re good at what they do, and they know the statistical analysis cold.

    But you have to ask yourself… If the model’s so great, why did Destiny 2 and CoD get hit so badly last week?

    Why do we continue to get solid, acknowledged bugs with almost every Windows patch on Patch Tuesday?

    And… how on earth did Win10 version 1809 get let out of its cage?