Woody Leonhard

About the Author Woody Leonhard


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

One week after Patch Tuesday, and would-be Windows Updaters are facing a handful of bugs. Some will find them minor annoyances. Others … not so much. Here are the known bugs, and where we stand in the struggle to resolve the problems.

Worthy of note: Microsoft is now acknowledging many bugs that in the past would’ve gone without comment. There’s hope.

Here are the known, significant buggy security patches:

  • Windows 10 Anniversary Update, version 1607 – Cumulative update KB 4034658 wipes out Update History, unhides hidden updates, and effectively disconnects some updated computers from WSUS. Microsoft has acknowledged all three of those bugs in the KB 4034658 article with the usual “Microsoft is investigating this issue and will provide an update as soon as possible.”
  • The first undocumented buggy driver this month for the Surface Pro 4, “Surface – System – 7/21/2017 12:00:00 AM – 1.0.65.1,” was released on August 1. It was replaced by a second driver “Surface – System – 7/31/2007 12:00:00 AM – 1.0.75.1” on August 4. The second one was documented. But then we saw four more undocumented Surface Pro 4 drivers — “Intel driver update for Intel(r) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Generic Participant,” “Power Participant,” Processor Participant” and “Manager” — all released on Saturday, August 12. Sometime late on August 14, Microsoft posted information about two of the drivers.
  • Both the Windows 7 August Monthly rollup KB 4034664 and the manually installed security-only patch KB 4034679 are causing problems with two-screen systems: The second screen starts showing gibberish with many applications, including Office. The problem has been widely reported — even replicated with a Proof of Concept program — but Microsoft hasn’t yet acknowledged it.
  • The only bug reported by Microsoft in its August Windows 7 security patches is an old bug, continuing from July, in which a buggy LDAP plugs up TCP dynamic ports. That bug hasn’t been fixed.
  • The Windows 8.1 Monthly rollup listing mentions a known bug: NPS authentication may break, and wireless clients may fail to connect. The solution is to manually set a registry entry on the server.

Dozens of patches were made to Office earlier this month but, so far, I’m not aware of any bugs.

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Two of this month’s Windows 7 patches cause second-screen problems

We now have solid reports of a bug in both of the Windows 7 security patches for this month, KB 4034664 (the monthly rollup, installed by Windows Automatic Update) and KB 4034679 (the manual security-only patch). If you have a Windows 7 machine with two or more monitors and there’s something weird happening with the second monitor, you may be able to solve the problem by uninstalling the bad patch.

I first read about the problems last Saturday on Günter Born’s Born City blog. He documented bugs in the second-screen display of PDFs using PDF-Xchange Viewer, problems with the second screen in IrfanView, Adobe Reader, Excel VBA, MathLab, ACDSee, some Java applications, and Office 2013 garbling window titles, scrollbars, and other screen elements.

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Two of this month’s Win7 patches causing second-screen problems

We now have solid reports of a bug in both of the Windows 7 security patches for this month, KB 4034664 (the monthly rollup, installed by Windows Automatic Update) and KB 4034679 (the manual security-only patch). If you have a Win7 machine with two or more monitors, and there’s something weird happening with the second monitor, you may be able to solve the problem by uninstalling the bad patch.

I first read about the problems last Saturday on Günter Born’s Born City blog. He documented bugs in the second-screen display of PDFs using PDF-Xchange Viewer, problems with the second screen in IrfanView, Adobe Reader, Excel VBA, MathLab, ACDSee, some Java applications, and Office 2013 garbling window titles, scrollbars, and other screen elements.

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Another undocumented Surface Pro update — Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework

If you own a Surface Pro 2017, you may have seen three or more new, completely undocumented driver updates come down the Automatic Update chute over the weekend. They’re called “Intel driver update for Intel(r) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Generic Participant,” “Power Participant,” “Processor Participant” and, for some, “Manager.” The timing couldn’t be worse, as Microsoft tries to counter the impression, championed by Consumer Reports, that Surface machines can no longer be “Recommended” to laptop buyers.

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Oh, boy. Just what we need. Another edition of Windows 10, WTFCUPFWP.

Late yesterday afternoon, Microsoft announced a new (but widely anticipated) edition of Windows 10, and it’s a mouthful.

On the one hand, we have Microsoft telling us (or at least Terry Myerson telling Mary Jo Foley) that Windows 10 will be “One Windows” to rule them all — desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, nuclear launch codes.

On the other hand, we now have Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, Mobile, Mobile Enterprise, Education, Pro Education, IoT Core, the new Win10 S, and now Windows 10 Pro for Workstation PCs.

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More problems with KB 4034658 August cumulative update for Win10 1607/Server 2016

Microsoft has officially acknowledged two bugs in Tuesday’s KB 4034658, the August cumulative update for Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) and Server 2016, which brings both up to build 14393.1539. Now I’m seeing reports of two additional bugs that warrant your attention.

Microsoft describes the first bug this way:

For some users, their “Update History” does not list previously installed updates.

Some users? Meh. As far as I know, everyone who installs KB 4034658 has their Update History wiped clean.

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Microsoft Surface reliability problem: It’s more than hardware and software

You’ve undoubtedly seen the news, first reported by Reuters, that Consumer Reports doesn’t like the Microsoft Surface line, removing the “Recommended” mark from all of its Surface machines. But the manifest hardware, firmware and driver problems are only a small part of the problem. What sticks in my craw, time after time, is Microsoft’s unwillingness to acknowledge problems or help customers when it’s clear their product is at fault.

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Surface Pro 4 Type Cover suddenly stops working

Yet another report of problems with the Surface Pro 4. This time the symptoms involve a suddenly dead Type Cover, a missing driver — and no help from Microsoft. There are tantalizing hints that the bug arrived with a recent pushed software update, and it may affect some Surface Pro 3 machines as well.

Poster kzh91 on the Microsoft Answers forum describes the problem:

After a recent surface pro 4 firmware update, my ‘surface type cover filter device’ driver disappeared, and my type cover no longer works. … I have tried doing a restart, hard restart, uninstalling the existing keyboard drivers and clicking on scan for hardware changes, but the surface type cover filter device doesn’t come back. My type cover was attached throughout this process. I do not wish to refresh windows as i don’t want to have to reinstall everything, and i can’t roll back the surface firmware updates.

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Windows as a service in a nutshell, explained

If you haven’t yet read Michael Niehaus’s post on the TechNet blog titled #WaasInANutshell, you should take a couple of minutes and do so. It’s admirably short and pithy, an overview of the terminology that supplants “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business.”

Unfortunately, life’s a little more complex than that overview. At the risk of waxing when I should be waning, let me tie some pieces together.

Start with this screenshot from the Win10 Creators Update 1703 Pro, Settings app, Advanced Settings pane:

choose how updates are installed 1703Woody Leonhard/IDG

If you’re running the latest version of Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you can choose to delay updating to the next version of Windows (1709? 1710?) until Microsoft declares the new version is ready for business — what we used to know as the Current Branch for Business, generally expected about four months after the new version hits the limelight.

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Windows 10 1607 cumulative update KB 4034658 wipes out Update History

It’s still much too early to tell if we’re going to have problems with this month’s Patch Tuesday trove, but one irksome bug has cropped up with the Win10 Anniversary Update cumulative update, KB 4034658 — the one that brings Win10 version 1607 up to build 14393.1593.

When you install KB 4034658, the installer wipes out your Update History (see before and after screenshots).

update history beforeWoody Leonhard/IDG

Update History before

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10 tricks to get (and keep) Windows 10 Creators Update running smoothly

With Windows 10 Creators Update — version 1703 — now officially declared worthy of installation on business machines, it’s time for Win10 customers to get with the system and get Creators Update installed. For those who have already moved to the latest and greatest — and those who are just starting with a Win10 machine — here’s a handful of steps you can take right now to keep Windows demons at bay, or at least minimize their hold on your machine.

winverWoody Leonhard/IDG

Trick 1. Run Windows Update manually

If you’re working with a machine that just installed Creators Update, you should start by running Windows Update manually. People seem to think that new-out-of-the-box machines and freshly upgraded machines will have the latest version of Win10 installed as a matter of course. Sometimes, they do not.

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It’s time to check your Windows machines and temporarily turn off Automatic Update

We’ve had tons of problems with Automatic Update patches so far this year. If you’ve followed along here, you’ve seen them roll out in real time. With Patch Tuesday coming tomorrow, now is an excellent time to make sure that you have Automatic Update turned off on all of your machines.

What kinds of problems? No patches at all in February, except a surprise late IE/Edge patch for Flash. In March, we got the Win10 patch that broke Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2011. In April, there were a host of problems, especially with the .Net patches. Then in June, we saw 16 bad Office security patches roll out of Automatic Update chute, and an IE patch that broke iFrame printing. Last month, Surface Pro 4 customers were treated to a rogue driver patch that broke Windows Hello.

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The case against Windows Automatic Update

There’s no question that you need to keep your Windows machine patched. In this age of EternalBlue and Shadow Brokers, Wikileaks and the CIA, avoiding Windows security patches is like hanging a sign out on the internet that says, “Kick me.”

That said, there’s no reason for savvy Windows users to succumb to Microsoft’s patching pace. Windows Automatic Update is great — vital — for your sainted aunt Martha, who’s afraid that anything other than playing mahjong will break her computer. But Auto Update’s an unnecessary risk for people who know how to use Windows and who keep up to date on Windows developments. If you’re knowledgeable enough to be reading this, you should seriously consider taking Windows patching into your own hands.

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New Surface Pro 4 driver restores Windows Hello — and this time it’s documented

Last night, Microsoft released a new Surface Camera driver called “Surface – System – 7/31/2007 12:00:00 AM – 1.0.75.1” which is intended to fix the Windows Hello problem introduced by the completely undocumented driver “Surface – System – 7/21/2017 12:00:00 AM – 1.0.65.1.” Many of you complained that, after installing the buggy driver, your Surface Pro 4 no longer supported Windows Hello.

As best as I can tell, this 1.0.75.1 driver update fixes the problem. But there’s more to the story.

The original, buggy driver was dated July 21, the files were dated July 26, and the driver was sent down the Automatic Update chute on July 29 without warning or description.

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Microsoft releases dozens of bug fixes for Win10 Creators Update, build 15063.502

There’s a reason why it feels like déjà vu all over again. The version of Windows 10 that was supposed to be ready to roll out to the world at large just got an “oh, wait a minute” update of several dozen minor bug fixes. It’s still too early to tell if the tiny tweaks cause more harm than good, but it might be prudent to hold off on the massive rollout for now.

On July 27, Microsoft declared that Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703, had garnered what we used to call “Current Branch for Business” status. As Gregg Keizer reported, Microsoft determined that 1703 was ready to roll out to businesses. The next day, Microsoft posted information about a new security patch, KB 4032188, that added dozens of bug fixes to version 1703, bringing it up to build 15063.501. Somehow that patch never made it out the door, and Microsoft quickly removed reference to it.

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