What’s new for IT pros in Windows 11, version 23H2

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Microsoft has a new post up about what is new in Windows 11 version 23H2 that benefits the IT professionals deploying Windows 11 in their environment. A lot of talk lately about the new desktop AI from Microsoft, Co-Pilot (currently in preview), which is included in this release. Some good security improvements to Windows Hello, Windows Firewall, and others.

There are also a few additional enhancements in this scoped release, such as:

  • The ability to ungroup icons and show labels on the taskbar for easy access to open applications and files.

  • A more seamless File Explorer with native support for RAR and other file compression formats.

  • Recommended websites in the Start menu based on each person’s browsing history. (This feature can be managed using a policy.)

  • A new volume mixer to control the volume and audio output more easily for each application.

  • The ability to set up a multi-app kiosk on Windows 11 devices with a customized Start menu showing only allowed apps for each account type.

  • Federated sign-in for Education editions of Windows 11.

  • Dev Drive, a new form of storage volume designed to improve performance for key developer workloads. Gain more control over storage volume settings and security, including trust designation, antivirus configuration, and administrative control over filters.


Updates to Snipping Tool and Notepad incoming for Insiders

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There are a couple new updates for Windows Insiders for a couple popular applications built into Windows – Snipping Tool and Notepad. A very welcome addition to Notepad is that it saves your work as you go, so no more “oops, I forgot to save” with Notepad.

With this update, Notepad will start automatically saving your session state allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return. Notepad will automatically restore previously open tabs as well as unsaved content and edits across those open tabs. Saved session state does not impact any of your files, though, and it is still your choice whether to save or discard unsaved changes to files anytime you close a tab. You can turn this feature off in app settings if you would prefer to have a fresh start every time you open Notepad.

Microsoft Certification Exams going ‘Open Book’, allowing Microsoft Learn.

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Microsoft is now going ‘open book’ style on the role based certification exams. They are allowing the use of Microsoft Learn resources during the exam. This can be very handy for looking things up, similar to how things are in real life, rather than rote memorization of things (including SKUs, etc.).

Because this is an exam resource, much like a calculator, exam time will not be extended. We are not changing the way we write our questions; they will continue to focus on problems or scenarios that require real world experience to solve. As a result, this resource is intended to be used for those questions that describe problems where you may need to look something up on Microsoft Learn. It is not something you should be leveraging to answer every question.


New Insider Builds and Bug Bash

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I always love a good Bug Bash from the Insiders team. I do miss the excellent webcasts and the team chats from the past. But, to highlight this weeks Bug Bash, the team has released build 23516 to the Dev channel and builds 22621.2129 and 22631.2129 to the Beta channel.

August 2023 Bug Bash: Starting today August 2nd, the bug bash begins and will run through Monday August 7th at 11:59pm PDT. The bug bash will span the latest features available in the currently available preview builds across the Canary, Dev, and Beta Channels. Check Feedback Hub for quests!

Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23506 [Dev Channel]

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Microsoft Insiders can look forward to a new install if you’re in the dev channel for Windows 11, build 23506. Some new security features. Also, ISO’s are available for this build for easy installation if you choose that route.

With Windows Hello for Business (WHFB), Windows provides organizations with a strong, phish-resistant credential, helping customers move to a passwordless future. Enterprise customers can now set the EnablePasswordlessExperience policy that promotes a user experience on AAD joined machines for core authentication scenarios without requiring a password. This new experience hides passwords from certain Windows authentication scenarios and leverages passwordless recovery mechanisms, such as WHFB PIN reset, if necessary.

Azure AD is now Entra ID

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Microsoft is rebranding some of it’s Azure services, including Azure AD (Active Directory). Azure AD is now going to be referred to as Microsoft Entra ID. Nothing functional will change, only the name and branding. The name change should be completed by the end of 2023 in all Microsoft documentation and portals.

To simplify our product naming and unify our product family, we’re changing the name of Azure AD to Microsoft Entra ID. Capabilities and licensing plans, sign-in URLs, and APIs remain unchanged, and all existing deployments, configurations, and integrations will continue to work as before. Starting today, you’ll see notifications in the administrator portal, on our websites, in documentation, and in other places where you may interact with Azure AD. We’ll complete the name change from Azure AD to Microsoft Entra ID by the end of 2023. No action is needed from you.

Licensing names have changed, but their functionality is exactly the same as they were previously. Nothing has been lost or gained in the transition.

There’s been mixed reactions from some admins across Reddit and Lemmy, from ‘meh’ to ‘not another name change?!’. Microsoft has been pretty notorious in changing the names of it’s services over the years including Skydrive to Onedrive, multiple ‘Threat Protection’ to Defender, and several others, with little explanation other than marketing.

For those that are studying for an exam, there will be a period where things may get confusing, with some documentation saying one thing and the official Microsoft documentation, portals, etc. saying something different. Just keep in mind that Microsoft Entra ID used to be the simple Microsoft Azure AD.

New Windows 11 Build

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A new Windows 11 build has been released to Windows Insiders to the Beta channel. Some good fixes in there for issues I’ve seen posted about.

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.746 and Build 22623.746 (KB5018490) to the Beta Channel.

  • Build 22623.746 = New features rolling out.
  • Build 22621.746 = New features off by default.

REMINDER: Insiders who were previously on Build 22622 will automatically get moved to Build 22623 via an enablement package. The enablement package artificially increments the build number for the update with new features getting rolled out and turned on to make it easier to differentiate from devices with the update with features off by default. This approach is being used for the Beta Channel only and is not indicative of any changes or plans for final feature rollouts.

Insiders who landed in the group with new features turned off by default (Build 22621.xxxx) can check for updates and choose to install the update that will have features rolling out (Build 22623.xxx).

New Surface Devices

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Microsoft has held their Surface Event, bringing several new upgrades to the Surface lineup, including the Surface Pro 9 and the Surface Laptop 5. I’ve owned several Surface devices, with the Surface Pro 2, 3, and 4. I’m looking at an upgrade with the Surface Laptop 5 this coming year. I would love to see more available options for upgrading the hardware (RAM and hard drive), but in a form factor so small (similar to the Apple Macbook Air), it’s understandable.

The Surface Pro lineup has a few options, with a power efficient Microsoft processor powering one of the models.

Surface Pro 9:

  • 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-1235U processor
  • 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1255U processor
  • Options with storage 256 GB and above built on the Intel® Evo™ platform

Surface Pro 9 with 5G:

  • Microsoft SQ® 3 processor

  • Neural Processing Unit (NPU)

October Patch Tuesday fixes Zero-Day and other issues

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Today is October’s Patch Tuesday, which brings in a fix for a active exploit as well as fixes for other issues. Notably, the recent Exchange zero-days were not given patches this time. BleepingComputer has more details on the CVE’s and what’s being patched.

  • 39 Elevation of Privilege Vulnerabilities

  • 2 Security Feature Bypass Vulnerabilities

  • 20 Remote Code Execution Vulnerabilities

  • 11 Information Disclosure Vulnerabilities

  • 8 Denial of Service Vulnerabilities

  • 4 Spoofing Vulnerabilities

Build 19582 Released to Fast Ring

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Microsoft has released the latest build to the Fast Ring for the Insider program. This time, we’re taking it up to 19582. As usual, check the known issues for anything that may prevent you from wanting to install this build. A few new things added (to the Your Phone app) and some other good fixes.

General changes & improvements

  • In an effort to consolidate information, we’re removing the Windows Security status details from the About Settings. This information is still available under Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security.
  • We’re working on giving you control over whether apps can disable the screen capture border. The page isn’t finished being wired up yet, but you’ll see it listed under Privacy Settings.
  • We’ve updated the “set time zone automatically” toggle in Time & Date settings to now be greyed out if location has been disabled.
  • Based on feedback, we’re updating the Scottish Gaelic keyboard in two ways:
    • Pressing AltGR + 7 will now input  (U+204A TIRONIAN SIGN ET). 
    • Pressing ‘ will now directly insert that character (right single quote).
    • Pressing AltGr + ‘ will now act as a dead key to combine an acute accent with a subsequent letter. 


  • We fixed an issue for Chinese Insiders where Windows setup (for example, if you reset your PC) would get stuck after inputting your Microsoft Account details.

  • We fixed an issue where, when you upgraded with certain languages like Japanese, the Installing Windows X% page wasn’t rendering the text correctly (only boxes were displayed).

  • We fixed an issue resulting in notifications sometimes having the wrong actions associated with them (for example, an unexpected reply box).

  • We fixed an issue causing some attempts to update to a newer build to result in error 0x8007042b.

  • We resolved the issue preventing the cloud recovery option for Reset this PC from working.

  • We fixed an issue that could result in a green screen with Win32kbase.sys crash at session shutdown.

  • We fixed an issue resulting in not being about to navigate between the Xbox Game Bar options using an Xbox Controller.

  • We fixed an issue where the “set time zone automatically” toggle in Time & Date settings wouldn’t stay enabled.

  • We fixed an issue that could result in the Open With dialog not accepting the selection when opening PDFs.

  • We fixed an issue resulting in Task Manager showing “Unavailable” DPI Awareness for all processes.