Microsoft’s Birthday

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Today is the 44th birthday of the founding of Microsoft (then, Micro-Soft) by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Founded April 4th, 1975, it started small ($16,000 in revenue by the end of 1976) but has grown into a massive international corporation worth billions. Hit the Wikipedia page for some good information on the history of this very influential company.


Improving The Windows 10 Update Experience

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The Windows team has a new blog post detailing some of the things they are doing to improve the Windows 10 Update experience. I know that it has been and still is a big issue with a lot of people, both in person and on the forums. Enough to where it’s getting people very upset and ready to throw their PC in the river.

A lot of great new things coming from Microsoft when it comes to updates, from having more control of updates, when the updates happen, and no surprise reboots to more transparency for what exactly the updates are bringing to Windows.

In previous Windows 10 feature update rollouts, the update installation was automatically initiated on a device once our data gave us confidence that device would have a great update experience.  Beginning with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, users will be more in control of initiating the feature OS update.  We will provide notification that an update is available and recommended based on our data, but it will be largely up to the user to initiate when the update occurs.  When Windows 10 devices are at, or will soon reach, end of service, Windows update will continue to automatically initiate a feature update; keeping machines supported and receiving monthly updates is critical to device security and ecosystem health.  We are adding new features that will empower users with control and transparency around when updates are installed. In fact, all customers will now have the ability to explicitly choose if they want to update their device when they “check for updates” or to pause updates for up to 35 days.


Windows Build 18334 Released To Fast Ring

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The latest build of Windows 10 19H1 for the fast ring has been released, build 18334. A lot of new features, some fixes, and more known issues that might be a show stopper. Grab it while it’s hot!

Known issues:

  • BattleEye software (used by Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and other popular games) does not work correctly with builds flighted to the Windows Insider Fast ring since December. If you have a PC that is not already enrolled in Windows Insider Fast, and you play games that use BattleEye software, we recommend you don’t join Windows Insider Fast on that PC.
  • If you don’t have access to the State of Decay test game, be sure to use the same Microsoft Account (MSA) and Gamertag for the Xbox Insider hub and the Microsoft Store app.
  • If you experience an error related to DirectX, please first file a Feedback Hub bug following the instructions above, and then try the following:
    • Launch the game again. This should trigger the DirectX installer to run which should fix any issues caused by previous install failures.
    • If the above doesn’t work, uninstall State of Decay by right-clicking Start, selecting Apps and Features, and then selecting Uninstall for the State of Decay entry. Then try the download and install again.
    • If you continue to see the same error even after the steps above, you can also try downloading and installing DirectX manually:
  • If the Install button in the Store doesn’t work, please first file a Feedback Hub bug following the instructions above, and then try the following:
    • Restart your PC and try the install again.
    • If the above, doesn’t work, click Start, search for ‘wsreset’ and run that command, then try the install again.
  • There is an intro video that plays at the start of the State of Decay test game which is squeezed into a thin line on left side of screen. Please ignore this issue; the game works fine once the title screen appears.
  • If you have a Microsoft Account on your machine which is a Child account and have Parental Controls turned on for that account, the State of Decay test game won’t install. We are investigating a fix for this in a forthcoming Windows flight.
  • You can install and run the State of Decay test game in a Virtual Machine (VM) if you aren’t able to test on real hardware; the download and install will work fine, but you will experience slow performance when running the game itself. Note: downloading and installing is still very helpful to find issues!

2019 Windows Insider Annual Survey

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The Windows Insider team is looking for your feedback on the Insider program, Windows in general, and what you’d like to see improve with both. Make sure to stop by and give them some good solid feedback, whether it’s good or bad. We’re all looking to make Windows a better OS, and the Windows Insider program a better place for all of us. With our input, we can help shape the program like we do with Windows itself.

We are inviting Windows Insiders to participate in our 2019 Windows Insider Annual Survey

Our Annual Survey is the single most important tool we have for making the Windows Insider Program even better. It’s your chance to tell us what interests you most about the program – and how we can make your Insider experience even better.

Of course, we’d also like to hear your feedback on the survey itself. Did the survey cover all aspects of the Windows Insider Program that are important to you? Was the survey easy to work with? Any suggestions for improving the survey or making it easier to complete?

Microsoft’s New Education Based Devices Includes New Surface Pen

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The new Surface Pen sounds like it might be a winner, but it’s only available to educational institutions. Going for $39.99 a pen but in quantities of 20, it features a hardened pen tip and a replacement tip in the box. For as many complaints that I see about the durability of the current Surface Pen, I’m sure many would love to see this his the consumer market as well.

Microsoft also announced seven new devices for the classroom from Lenovo, Dell, and Acer. These are very affordable Windows 10 powered devices that compete with the Chromebook style PC’s in schools today.

With Windows 10 devices, schools can get the best prices without having to compromise on features like inking. Inking in particular has proven to increase student scores by as much as 38 percent, compared to only using a keyboard. These devices are also a great way to use our free accessibility technology like Learning Tools in Office 365, which has been shown to improve reading comprehension by 10 percentile points for students of all abilities. Plus, with S Mode for Windows 10, schools can reduce the risk of bloatware and speed up boot times, improve battery life, and enjoy better device performance.

Windows Update Patch for 1809

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Microsoft has released a new update (KB4476976) for Windows 10 version 1809 that comes after Patch Tuesday, which will bring the build to OS Build 17763.292. There are quite a few fixes with this build, but no new features. Grab it if you need it!

This update includes quality improvements. No new operating system features are being introduced in this update. Key changes include:

  • Addresses an issue that may cause Microsoft Edge to stop working with certain display drivers.
  • Addresses an issue that may cause third-party applications to have difficulty authenticating hotspots.
  • Addresses an issue that causes promotions of non-root domains to fail with the error, “The replication operation encountered a database error.” The issue occurs in Active Directory forests in which optional features like Active Directory recycle have been enabled.
  • Addresses an issue related to the date format for the Japanese era calendar. For more information, see KB4469068.
  • Addresses a compatibility issue with AMD R600 and R700 display chipsets.
  • Addresses an audio compatibility issue when playing newer games with 3D Spatial Audio mode enabled through multichannel audio devices or Windows Sonic for Headphones.
  • Addresses an issue that may cause audio playback to stop responding when playing Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) audio content after using a Seek operation such as rewind.
  • Addresses an issue that allows users to uninstall apps from the Start menu when the “Prevent users from uninstalling applications from Start menu” group policy is set.
  • Addresses an issue that causes File Explorer to stop working when you click the Turn On button for the timeline feature. This issue occurs when the “Allow upload of user activities” group policy is disabled.
  • Addresses an issue that prevents users from installing a Local Experience Pack from the Microsoft Store when that language is already set as the active Windows display language.
  • Addresses an issue that causes some symbols to appear in a square box on a text control.
  • Addresses an issue with two-way audio that occurs during phone calls for some Bluetooth headsets.
  • Addresses an issue that may turn off TCP Fast Open by default on some systems.
  • Addresses an issue that may cause applications to lose IPv4 connectivity when IPv6 is unbound.
  • Addresses an issue on Windows Server 2019 that may break connectivity on guest virtual machines (VMs) when applications inject the low-resource flag on packets.
  • Addresses an issue that occurs if you create a page file on a drive with FILE_PORTABLE_DEVICE characteristics. The “Windows created a temporary warning” message appears.
  • Addresses an issue that causes Remote Desktop Services to stop accepting connections after accepting several connections.
  • Addresses an issue in Windows Server 2019 that causes a Hyper-V VM to remain at the bootloader screen for OS selection when restarting the machine. This issue occurs when Virtual Machine Connection (VMConnect) is attached.
  • Addresses an issue with rendering of end-user-defined characters (EUDC) in Microsoft Edge.
  • Updates the Ltotape.sys driver to add native support for Linear Tape-Open 8 (LTO-8) tape drives.

Windows 10 Insider Bug Bash Starts Today

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Today marks the beginning of the 19H1 Bug Bash which will run until February 3rd (Feedback Hub link for Bug Bash Quests: The upcoming Bug Bash webcast will be next Tuesday at 10am PST. These Bug Bash events are always great for completing quests and getting quick feedback to possible issues with the newest insider releases before public release. Hope to see some familiar names in the webcast! See you on Tuesday!


Microsoft Issues Fix for Internet Explorer Zero Day

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A new Microsoft patch is available for Windows systems that fixes a security issue in it’s Internet browser Internet Explorer. Patches are available for Windows 7 to Windows 10, as well as Server 2008 and 2019. For users with Windows Update, you should already be covered. If you’re using Windows 10, you can force it to check for updates by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates.

Make sure to get your systems patched ASAP to avoid this issue. The exploit is already being used in the wild.

A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the way that the scripting engine handles objects in memory in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability could corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could take control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit the vulnerability through Internet Explorer and then convince a user to view the website, for example, by sending an email.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying how the scripting engine handles objects in memory.

Windows 10 Build 18305 Released to Fast Ring

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The latest build of Windows 10 19H1 for the fast ring has been released, build 18305. A lot of new features, some fixes, and more known issues that might be a show stopper. Grab it while it’s hot!

Check out the new simplified Start Menu:

Known issues

  • The hyperlink colors need to be refined in Dark Mode in Sticky Notes if the Insights are enabled.

  • The Windows Security app may show an unknown status for the Virus & threat protection area, or not refresh properly. This may occur after upgrade, restart, or settings changes.

  • The cmimanageworker.exe process may hang, causing system slowness or higher than normal CPU usage. This can be bypassed by rebooting the machine if it occurs.

  • Launching games that use BattlEye anti-cheat will trigger a bug check (green screen) – we’re investigating.

  • USB printers may appear twice in the Devices and Printers under Control Panel. Reinstalling the printer will resolve the issue.

  • We’re investigating an issue where clicking your account in Cortana Permissions isn’t bringing up the UI to sign out from Cortana (if you were already signed in) for some users in this build.

  • If you’re using Hyper-V and have added an external vSwitch in addition to the default, many UWP apps won’t be able to connect to the internet. Removing the additional vSwitch will resolve this.

  • The Task Scheduler UI may appear blank even though there are scheduled tasks. For now, you’ll need to use the command line if you want to see them.

  • Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. We are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.

  • When attempting to update to build 18305 some S Mode devices will download and restart, but fail the update.

New Windows Sandbox feature in Windows 10 Pro & Enterprise

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Microsoft Windows Pro & Enterprise editions have a great new feature available – Windows Sandbox. An isolated desktop environment that you can use to run untrusted software that you can dispose of after testing. You always have a clean install to test software, and it’s wiped clean after running. There are quite a few use cases for this feature, and will come in very useful for IT professionals, software testing, security professionals, or just the average user on the higher editions of Windows wanting to play around without affecting their host OS.

How many times have you downloaded an executable file, but were afraid to run it? Have you ever been in a situation which required a clean installation of Windows, but didn’t want to set up a virtual machine?

At Microsoft we regularly encounter these situations, so we developed Windows Sandbox: an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software without the fear of lasting impact to your PC. Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host. Once Windows Sandbox is closed, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted.