Woody Leonhard

About the Author Woody Leonhard


How to block Windows 10 Fall Creators Update from installing

Some people want to install the latest version of Windows 10 the moment it’s available. They’ll line up — intentionally or not — to participate in a beta testing cycle that’s disguised as a four-month-or-so exercise, designed to winnow the last bugs out of the new version before it’s deemed ready for corporate use.

If you want to help beta test an unpolished version of Win10, you don’t need to do a thing. Microsoft plans to release Fall Creators Update on Oct. 17 and will roll it out over your machine when the company figures it’s fit.

On the other hand, you might want to consider waiting until any initial problems get ironed out, keeping Win10 Fall Creators Update off your machine until you’re ready for it. Blocking the update isn’t easy, in many cases. But if you’re persistent, you can do it.

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Microsoft patch problems persist: bad release sequences, CRM blocks and more

We’re sitting at PT+2 — two days after Patch Tuesday — and the problems continue to roll in. Here are the latest mug shots in a rapidly devolving rogue’s gallery.

If you’ve been following along, you know about the initial problems I reported on Tuesday — the Word zero-day, TPM patches that don’t patch, known and acknowledged bugs in Windows patches. You saw the late bloomers I reported on Wednesday — delayed, failed and rolled back Windows patches, a non-existent Flash update, confusingly no .NET security patches, an incorrect description of the CVE-2017-11776 fix, and more TPM follies.

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Early reports of myriad Microsoft Patch Tuesday problems

This month’s massive bundle of Patch Tuesday patches almost certainly contains more than a few surprises, and they’re only starting to surface. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve seen in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

There are lots of reports of delayed, failed and rolled back installations of KB 4041676, the Win10 Creators Update (version 1703) monthly cumulative update, which brings 1703 up to build 15063.674. A quick glance at the KB article confirms that there are dozens and dozens of fixes in this cumulative update — a remarkable state of affairs, considering the Fall Creators Update, version 1709, is due on Oct. 17.

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Another banner Patch Tuesday, with a Word zero-day and several bugs

It’s going to be a banner patching month. I count 151 separate security patches and 48 Knowledge Base articles, as well as the odd Security Advisory.

The Windows patch Release Notes point to four known bugs:

The cumulative update for Win10 Creators Update, version 1703 — which sports dozens of fixes — has a couple of problems: Systems with support enabled for USB Type-C Connector System Software Interface (UCSI) may experience a blue screen or stop responding with a black screen when a system shutdown is initiated, and it may change Czech and Arabic languages to English for Microsoft Edge and other applications.

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Duck! Windows and Office patches are coming

If you’re running Windows, do yourself a favor and put Automatic Update on a temporary hold. Then wait and see if anything comes bursting apart at the seams.

Last month, there was good reason to install specific patches shortly after they were released — at least if you couldn’t train yourself to avoid the “Enable Editing” button in Word. But by and large, if you could avoid that button, there were myriad reasons why waiting a bit before installing the September patches paid off.

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It’s time to install the September patches for Windows and Office

If you’ve already installed some (or all) of the September patches, you’ve watched a parade of problems pass by. The first stab at September’s Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703, patch brought all sorts of problems to Edge — crashes, stalls and worse. It also brought some unlucky HP computer owners five to 10 minutes of black screens every time Windows restarted. Those problems were fixed earlier this week.

The Windows 8.1 patch made it impossible to log on with a Microsoft account. (I know, some of you think that’s a feature.) The Windows 7 patch made Internet Explorer sprout a new search box. We had a report of the Windows 7 patch breaking activation on certain Dell machines, but it appears that’s an isolated problem. The .NET Security and Quality Rollup makes certain custom images turn black. None of those bugs have fixes, but at least you’ll be prepared before installing the patch — and you’ll know where to look for problems.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: Where we stand with September’s Windows and Office patches

Microsoft’s foray into quantum computing sure sounds neat, but those of us stuck with real programs on real computers have been in something of a quandary. Once again this month, we’ve hit a bunch of stumbling blocks, many of which were pushed down the Automatic Update chute.

Before we dissect the creepy-crawlies this month, it’s important to remember that you have to get the .Net patches installed, unless you fastidiously refrain from clicking the “Enable Editing” button in Word.

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Microsoft releases KB 4040724 fix for bugs introduced in this month’s Win10 1703 patch

Those of you who cringed after installing Patch Tuesday’s missive for Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703, can breathe a small sigh of relief. Two of the known bugs in that patch — one that scrambled Edge, another that black-screened HP computers for 10 minutes at a stretch — have been fixed, almost two weeks later. Microsoft also says it fixed cellular connectivity problems.

If all of the buggy cumulative updates make you feel a bit creepy, compare and contrast the reality to last week’s announcement that Windows 10 Creators Update is the “best and most reliable” version of Windows 10.

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Win 8.1 monthly rollup leaves customers unable to use Microsoft account

This month’s Patch Tuesday brought some weird Windows bugs, but this one’s probably the worst.

I’m seeing reports all over the web that folks running Windows 8.1 aren’t able to log in to their computers using a Microsoft account. Microsoft’s response at this point is that they’re aware of the problem, but if you want to use your machine, you need to log on with a local account.

cannot sign in to ms accountWoody Leonhard/IDG

That isn’t a whole lot of help for people who haven’t set up a local account or need to get to something on the machine that’s only available to the Microsoft account.

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Where we stand with messy September Windows and .NET patches

This month’s Windows and .Net patches hold all sorts of nasty surprises — some acknowledged, some not, some easy to skirt, some waiting to swallow the unwary whole. Here’s a quick overview of what’s going on with this month’s missives.

Most important: If you can’t keep yourself (or your clients) from clicking “Enable Editing” in Word, you must install a broad range of .NET patches (if you’re running Windows 7 or 8.1) or cumulative updates (if you’re running Windows 10), like, NOW.

Windows 10 Creators Update version 1703

Cumulative Update KB 4038788, which brings the build number up to 15063.608, has two acknowledged (but not fixed) bugs:

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Tower of Babel Outlook 2007 security patch KB 4011086 yanked, replaced

With one month left until Outlook 2007 hits end of life, Microsoft released a fix yesterday for the September security patch’s polyglot ways. You may recall KB 4011086 as the Outlook 2007 patch that displays Swedish menus in the Hungarian language version, Portuguese in Italian, Swedish in Slovenian, Spanish in Italian, and many more. One hitch: You have to manually uninstall the old patch before you can install the new patch.

For those of you using Outlook 2010 who got hit with the same language switcheroo, I haven’t seen any notice that this month’s KB 4011089 has been fixed or pulled.

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Outlook security patches intentionally break custom forms

When Microsoft released its Outlook security patches on Sept. 12, several readers complained that their custom form printing capabilities disappeared. Ends up the bug that broke VBScript printing isn’t a bug at all.

Microsoft announced over the weekend that it intentionally disabled scripts in custom forms, and those with printable custom forms need to make manual Registry changes to bring the feature back.

Those of you who have installed any of this month’s Outlook security patches:

will have to dive into the Registry if you want to enable any custom form scripts, including the VBScript printing capability. It’s complicated, and the method varies, depending on which version of Office you’re using and the bittedness of Windows and Office. Diane Poremsky has detailed instructions on her Slipstick Systems site.

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Running a Win10 beta build on a Surface Pro 3? Don’t shut down.

Those of you with a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 who are running Windows Insider beta builds, sit up and take note: Don’t turn off your machine.

Somehow Microsoft managed to release the latest beta build, 16288.1, to both the Fast and the Slow ring. If you install it on your Surface Pro 3 and try to reboot, you’ll see a “Surface” on a black screen, the dot-chasing “working” icon, and exactly nothing else. My SP3 has been bricked since yesterday, and the dots are still chasing each other.

How, you might question, could this have happened? Certainly anybody who installed 16288.1 on an SP3 machine didn’t ever get it to reboot. The build was pushed out to the Fast ring on Sept. 12. It went out on the Slow ring on Sept. 15. And I didn’t see any mention of the bug until Sept. 16. Is it possible that nobody inside or outside Microsoft rebooted a beta-enhanced Microsoft SP3 between Sept. 12 and Sept. 16?

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Outlook 2010 Tower of Babel patch KB 4011089 breaks VBScript print

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If you can’t avoid Word’s ‘Enable Editing,’ patch Windows right now

In the normal course of events, it takes a week (or two or three) for the bugs in each month’s Windows and Office security patches to shake out. This month’s patches are no exception. There are lots of reports of problems with IE and Edge, for example, and many more are piling up.

In the normal course of events, the fresh-off-the-press security patches present more of a threat to most people, in the short term, than do the problems the patches are supposed to fix. You have to patch sooner or later, but by waiting for the screams of pain to die down, you can save yourself some major headaches.

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Where we stand with this month’s Windows and Office security patches

September’s retinue of Microsoft patches includes one very important .NET fix that blocks a security hole brought to life when you open an RTF file in Word. So far, it’s only been seen in the wild in a Russian-language RTF document, apparently generated by NEODYMIUM, allegedly used by a nation-state to snoop on a Russian-speaking target.

Several researchers have found ways to leverage the security hole, and it’s only a matter of time before some enterprising folks come up with ways to turn it into a widespread infection vector. Bottom line: If you can’t keep your finger off the “Enable Editing” button in Word, you better get this month’s security patches installed.  

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Time to temporarily turn off Windows Automatic Update

If run Windows — any version — now would be an excellent time to make sure Automatic Update is turned off. Patch Tuesday arrives tomorrow, and there’s no telling what sort of offal will get thrust onto Windows machines automatically.

Of course, I will be watching closely and will warn you if there’s something that has to be installed, like, right now. If this month is like the vast majority of Windows patching months in the past year or two, you have more to lose from botched patches than there is to gain by immediately installing security patches.

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Buggy Word 2016 non-security patch KB 4011039 can’t handle merged cells

Last month’s crop of buggy Windows and Office patches may be headed for a re-match. I’m seeing reports of a merged cell bug in last Tuesday’s Sept. 5, 2017, update for Word 2016 (KB4011039).

At this point, Microsoft has acknowledged the bug and has pulled the patch. The bug doesn’t appear on the official Fixes or workarounds for recent issues in Word for Windows page. The only solution is to manually uninstall the patch.

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Equifax security breach debacle thickens with improbable denials

No doubt you’ve heard about the stolen data at credit reporting agency Equifax. The company’s official disclosure appeared yesterday:

Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. … The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers.

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It’s time to install August Windows and Office patches — carefully

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It’s time to move to Win10 Creators Update – for all the wrong reasons

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Don’t use Windows 10 to move data on your Android phone

When you attach your phone to a PC with a USB cable, you expect File Explorer to work the way it’s intended to work — copy, move, drag, drop and the like. As long as your PC is running Windows 7 or 8.1, that’s exactly what happens. But if you’re running Windows 10, watch out. You may end up deleting files.

Jörg Wirtgen on German-language site heise.de has a description of the problem. Here’s a translation, courtesy of DeepL:

Be careful with Android devices connected to a PC running Windows 10 via USB: harmless cleanup operations can cause photos and other files to be irretrievably lost. Almost all Android devices except the newer ones from Samsung are affected.

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Six days late, Microsoft reveals the meaning of mystery patch KB 4033637

Last Friday, Microsoft pushed a patch down the Automatic Update chute. Like so many patches before it, KB 4033637 was completely undocumented. Those running Win10 1607 who hadn’t taken steps to block forced patches found they had a newly revised program running on their systems — and nobody had any idea what the patch actually did.

Informed conjecture said it was an update to the Compatibility Appraiser, to help Microsoft upgrade machines to newer versions of Windows. Other guesses were all over the map. On Reddit, a poster relates how he called Microsoft and was told that it’s a hush-hush security patch for Flash. Microsoft’s own Answers Forum is littered with posts blaming KB 4033637 for system freezes, second screen problems, installation hangs and more.

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Microsoft patch alert: Outstanding problems with recent updates

August has seen a flurry of buggy patches:

Win10 1607 – KB 4033637, which arrived last Friday via Auto Update, was documented early Thursday morning. It’s an update to the Compatibility Appraiser, to make it easier for Microsoft to upgrade your version of Windows.

 

Win10 1507 and 1511 – KB 4033631 remains undocumented and was similarly pushed thru Auto Update (on Friday?). It’s also likely an update to the Compatibility Appraiser.

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