Microsoft Virtual Academy Path for IT Pros and Cybersecurity

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October is cybersecurity awareness month (look for my guide on malware cleanup later this month!), and Microsoft has put out a new learning path on the MVA (Microsoft Virtual Academy) for IT pros that are also focusing on cybersecurity. A lot of good information, even if you’re not a security specialist, there is still a lot to know and learn with this new learning path.

In today’s ever-evolving threat landscape, you may be wondering how to stay on top of it all. We can help. Microsoft has built a set of strategies and integrated capabilities to help you solve your enterprise security challenges. To help you make the most of them, Microsoft Virtual Academy recently announced a new “Security for IT Pros” learning path, which offers an in-depth look at a number of security topics from an enterprise security perspective.

Plan to spend about 11 hours on this self-paced series. Go through video tutorials, watch demos, and take assessments. Plus, earn an MVA badge for completing the learning path, and share them with your colleagues and friends through email or social media.

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New Fast Ring Update

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For those in the Insiders program in the Fast Ring:

UPDATE 10/2: We have released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 16299.15 to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. As we prepare to release the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to the world on October 17th, we will now start testing out servicing this build with the Cumulative Updates via Windows Update.

While not a complete build, this is a new update being pushed out as a Cumulative Update. Same build, with a minor revision – 16299.15.

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Groove Music Moving Away in Favor of Spotify

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For those that subscribed to the Groove Music Pass, some sad news. Microsoft is dropping the music pass and partnering with Spotify. Yes, there will be refunds available or some as well as a 60-day free trial of Spotify Premium for Music Pass customers. Many people in the forums, reddit, and Twitter are pretty upset with the change.

Hit the FAQ for more information, how to transfer your purchases to Spotify, refund information, etc..

We will continue to invest in and update the Groove Music app on all Windows devices to support playback and management of owned music, but after December 31, 2017, the Groove Music app will no longer offer the option to stream, purchase, and download music.

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Windows Insider Program 3 Year Birthday

Today marks the third birthday of the Windows 10 Insider program. Starting from it’s humble roots, with users gaining access to early Windows 10 builds and providing feedback, it has grown into a large program that produces regular Mixer (formally Beam) webcasts, Feedback Hub interaction, build quests, the Skip Ahead builds, and the Windows Insider MVP’s. The Windows Insider program has been a great experience for myself, as well as many, many others. I thank those that are part of the program as well as those that are running it and a big part of it at Microsoft. It’s been a great 3 years, and I look forward to many more! The first blog post telling people to join the Insider program, written by Brandon LeBlanc is still up on the site as well!

For more information on the Windows Insider program, check out the Microsoft site. Make sure you ready the warnings and know of the issues that may come of it if you join. Many have had flawless experiences like myself, while others have had a bit worse luck.


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Changes Coming in Office 365 Administration

This week during the Ignite conference in Orlando, FL, Microsoft announced some upcoming changes and new features for Office 365. For the IT professionals out there, this can be very exciting and welcome! I know there are more than a few of these that I am very much looking forward to!

  • Office 365 Usage Analytics reaches GA in 2018 – Office 365 Usage Analytics – currently available as preview as Office 365 Adoption Content Pack in PowerBI – combines the intelligence of the usage reports with the interactive analysis capabilities of Power BI, providing a wealth of usage and adoption insights. At the beginning of 2018, Usage Analytics will reach general availability with an updated version that will include new metrics on teamwork and collaboration, as well as usage data for Microsoft Teams, Yammer Groups and Office 365 Groups, and more.

Visualize and analyze usage with Office 365 Usage Analytics in PowerBIVisualize and analyze usage with Office 365 Usage Analytics in PowerBI

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Draft Security Baseline for Windows 10 v1709

The draft release of the security baseline for Windows 10 v1709, the upcoming Fall Creators Update, has been posted. This includes the recommended security configuration baseline settings that are typically used in the enterprise.

The downloadable attachment to this blog post includes importable GPOs, scripts for applying the GPOs to local policy, custom ADMX files for Group Policy settings, and all the recommended settings in spreadsheet form. The spreadsheet also includes the corresponding settings for configuring through Windows’ Mobile Device Management (MDM).

The differences between this baseline and that for Windows 10 v1703 (a.k.a., “Creators Update,” “Redstone 2”, RS2) are:

  • Implementing Attack Surface Reduction rules within Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Exploit Guard is a new feature of v1709 that helps prevent a variety of actions often used by malware. You can read more about Exploit Guard here: Reduce attack surfaces with Windows Defender Exploit Guard. Note that for this draft, we are enabling “block” mode for all of these settings. We are taking a particularly careful look at the “Block office applications from injecting into other process;” if it creates compatibility problems then we might change the baseline recommendation to “audit” mode for that setting. Please let us know what you observe with this draft baseline.
  • Enabling Exploit Guard’s Network Protection feature to prevent any application from accessing web sites identified as dangerous, including those hosting phishing scams and malware. This extends the type of protection offered by SmartScreen to all programs, including third-party browsers.
  • Enabling a new setting that prevents users from making changes to the Exploit protection settings area in the Windows Defender Security Center.
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Fast Ring Build 16299 released

For those in the Fast Ring, another build is available. This time, it’s 16299. We’re getting more and more builds in anticipation for the Fall Creators Update, coming October 17th.

General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • We fixed an issue some Insiders were experiencing where after upgrading to recent flights their optical drive wouldn’t be listed under This PC.
  • We fixed an issue where Microsoft Edge might crash when scrolling embedded PDFs.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders seeing 0x80070005 when trying to upgrade to the last few flights.
  • We fixed an issue where using the Automatic File Download notification to block an app from downloading files wasn’t working for UWP apps.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in Windows Defender potentially downloading files selected to be online-only after using the file picker dialog and viewing their thumbnails.
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Office 2019 Announced

No one should be surprised about the announcement that a new version of Office, Office 2019, was coming. But, Microsoft officially announced that they are working to bring Office 2019 to preview mid-2018. Still a ways out, but some stuff to look forward to:

Office 2019 will add new user and IT capabilities for customers who aren’t yet ready for the cloud. For example, new and improved inking features—like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay—will allow you to work more naturally. New formulas and charts will make data analysis for Excel more powerful. Visual animation features—like Morph and Zoom—will add polish to PowerPoint presentations. Server enhancements will include updates to IT manageability, usability, voice, and security.

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Build 16296 For Fast Ring Insiders Available

For those in the Fast Ring, another build is available. This time, it’s 16296. We’re getting more and more builds in anticipation for the Fall Creators Update, coming October 17th.

General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • We fixed an issue where Hyper-V couldn’t create a VM on 3rd party network storage.
  • We fixed an issue where for the first few minutes after clean installing a non-English build many inbox app names might unexpectedly appear with English app names.
  • We fixed an issue where gaming apps using WebView with heavy use of HTML canvas might have unexpectedly had very low FPS in recent flights.

Team Updates

Just a reminder that next week, our entire team and a few of our Community Champs is going to be at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando. If you’re going to be at Ignite, please come and visit us at the Windows Insider Program booth as well as our two sessions WIP 100 and WIP 300 for some 1:1 time with us. We’re SO looking forward to meeting you!

We’re also doing a Insider Pulse survey every week (usually on Fridays) where you can tell us how we’re doing! Please do these surveys!

Link to the survey:

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Build 16294 for Fast Ring Released

A surprise night build was released last night, build 16294, to fast ring insiders. As mentioned on the blog page, this build might not be available for everyone right away, so if you don’t see it, don’t worry too much. However, I was able to get it on both my desktop and my Surface Pro 4.

What’s new? Not a whole lot. As we wind closer to the Fall Creators Update release, the main focus is on polishing and stabilizing the features and OS so the end user has a great experience when they upgrade.

General changes, improvements, and fixes for PC

  • This build has the fix for the bug that was causing some Surface Pro 3 devices to end up in a “unbootable” state where the Windows OS will not load and it appears to be stuck on a “spinning dots” screen. After installing this build, Surface Pro 3 devices should no longer get into this state. If you have a Surface Pro 3 in a bad state – follow the instructions on this forum post to get back up and running.
  • We fixed an issue on Dutch builds where explorer could go into a crash loop if an app-requested downloads notification popped up from OneDrive.
  • We fixed an issue where expand.exe couldn’t expand CABs that contained Japanese characters in the file name.
  • We fixed a race condition that could result in window content being transparent (but showing the window frame) or stale after unlocking your desktop.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders seeing error 0x800B010C when attempting to upgrade to the last few flights.
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