Woody Leonhard

About the Author Woody Leonhard


Non-security Office patches appear with the reprise of KB 2952664 and 2976978

November’s two dozen or so non-security Office patches won’t raise any eyebrows: A bad antivirus scanning sequence problem (KB 4011188, 4011229, 3162081, 4011138), an upgrade from Lynch 2013 to Skype for Business (KB 4011255), and lots of miscellaneous bug fixes. Two patches caught my eye.

First, I’m surprised that the antivirus scanning problem is characterized as non-security:

If Windows Defender is enabled and registered for IOfficeAntivirus scanning, Office applications still run registry key scanning first instead of using Windows Defender for documents scanning. After you install this update, Office applications will use Windows Defender instead.

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Microsoft yanks buggy Windows patches KB 4052233, 4052234, 4052235

As I reported last week, Microsoft released a handful of buggy patches designed to fix the “Unexpected error from external database driver” bug introduced by all of the October Windows security patches. As noted then, the bug fixes have bugs themselves, and the cure is worse than the disease.

Now comes word that Microsoft has not only yanked the bad patches; it’s also deleted the KB articles associated with the patches.

Specifically, all of these KB articles report that the page does not exist:

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Surface Pen malfunctions after installing Win10 Fall Creators Update

If you have a Surface Pen, and you installed the latest upgrade to Windows 10 – the Fall Creators Update, version 1709 – you may be experiencing problems with your pen.

No, the battery doesn’t need replacing.

No, your pen isn’t wearing out.

Instead, it looks like there’s a bug in 1709 that makes “pinch to zoom” fail – or simply disables the pen as a whole.

Poster GabrielleRice describes the worst problem on the Microsoft Answers Forum writes:

I have a Surface Pro 4, for which I’ve had a Surface Pen. My pen, however, has been malfunctioning. In essence, it stops writing. I can still use the buttons and my screen responds to touch, my keyboard still works, etc., but my pen simply will not write. Most puzzling, this problem comes and goes seemingly at random. The pen will be completely nonfunctional for hours at a time and then, without warning, will write flawlessly again. I’ve tried every troubleshooting tip to no avail, and have even replaced the battery. Replacing the battery helped briefly, but the problem has persisted. I went back again and tried the troubleshooting tips, but they haven’t stuck. As someone who bought this tablet to help me with my digital art, it’s really unhelpful to have a malfunctioning pen.

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MS fixes ‘external database’ bug with patches that have even more bugs

Yesterday, Thursday, a date which will live in infamy, Microsoft unleashed patches for five versions of Windows. They were supposed to fix the widely reported bug in all of the mainstream October Windows security patches that gave rise to a bogus “Unexpected error from external database driver” message.

It’s too early to assess all of the damage, but reports from many corners say installing these new patches brings back old, unpatched versions of many files. If you installed one of the patches from yesterday, best to uninstall it. Now.

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Surface Pro 4 screen shake/dead Type Cover problems fall on deaf ears

Microsoft’s ongoing record of shoddy response to Surface Pro problems continues unabated. This time, the Surface Pro 4 (born October 2015, superseded June 2017) takes the limelight: Complaints about shaky screens and dead Type Covers abound.

We’re seeing a repeat of the all-too-familiar pattern of Surface denial, aided and abetted by clueless, paid, outsourced support personnel on the Microsoft Answers forum.

Surface Pro 4 shaky screen

If you haven’t yet seen the shaky screen problem, look at this YouTube video submitted by DimkaSuperStaR 18 months ago. The Microsoft Answers forum has been flooded with complaints about the problem. I wrote about it six months ago and again three months ago.

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Free Windows 10 upgrade offer’s days are numbered

One of the best known nudge-nudge-wink-wink features of Windows 7 and 8.1 is about to fade into the sunset. As of Dec. 31, the offer to upgrade from either version of Windows to Win10 for free will end. At least, it looks like the offer will end. With no clear announcement from Microsoft, the nods and winks seem more furtive than ever.

At the core of the conundrum: Microsoft has officially permitted “genuine” Windows 7 and 8.1 machines to upgrade to Win10 for free, long after the original free upgrade program expired on July 29, 2016. The trick? You had to verify by asserting, “Yes, I use assistive technologies.”

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Get Windows and Office patched – but watch out for creepy-crawlies

Those of us who have to keep Windows 10 working have hit yet another rough course. This month’s patches haven’t been pretty. In fact, if your admin set the WSUS or SCCM update servers to automatically approve Windows 10 updates, you may have had to deal with oceans of blue screens.

Right now, the biggest threat is not KRACK – Computerworld‘s Gregg Keizer has an overview here and the Krackattacks.com site has the latest details; it hasn’t (yet) started infecting normal Windows users. The big threat now is from that Wacky Wascal BadRabbit, which started with a fake Flash update on a Russian site and an ancient DDEAUTO field exploit in Word (and Excel and Outlook and OneNote) and is being used to carry Locky and other ransomware.

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Win10 Fall Creators Update’s rapid, rocky rollout

A week ago today, Microsoft rolled out the “RTM” build of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (FCU), version 1709, build 16299.15 – which should’ve been immediately upgraded to 16299.19. At least anecdotally, the initial push brought in far more Win10 machines than any previous rollout. I’ve seen few reports of problems from those who had FCU thrust upon them, but there are plenty of problems among those who installed the upgrade manually.

Yesterday, Windows servicing and delivery director John Cable talked about the phased rollout approach on the Windows Blog. Cable said:

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Excel, Access, external DB driver errors linked to this month’s patches

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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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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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