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Microsoft to stop serving non-security monthly updates to Windows

Beginning in May, Microsoft plans to halt the delivery of all non-security updates to Windows, another step in its suspension of non-essential revisions to the OS and other important products.

The optional updates, which Microsoft designates as Windows’ C and D updates, are released during the third and fourth week of each month, respectively.

“We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand this is impacting our customers,” Microsoft said to some understatement in a March 24 post to the Windows 10 messaging center. “In response to these challenges we are prioritizing our focus on security updates.”

Security updates, labeled as B updates, are better known as those released on Patch Tuesday – Microsoft prefers Update Tuesday – or the second Tuesday of each month. The stoppage of C and D updates will not affect the company’s patching efforts. “There is no change to the monthly security updates; these will continue as planned to ensure business continuity and to keep our customers protected and productive,” the message read.

The C and D updates are used to test non-security fixes which are to be officially released the following month as part of the all-encompassing Patch Tuesday cumulative update. According to Microsoft, the C and D updates should not be distributed to all Windows client systems. Instead, the D update, which Microsoft ships two weeks after one Patch Tuesday and two weeks before the next, should be used to “…test the updates included in the release and provide feedback, reducing the amount of testing necessary following Update Tuesday and, thereby, improving our ability to solve issues before they even happen.”

Because they’re optional, some customers simply skip them.

The most recent D update was released Tuesday for Windows 10 1903 and Windows 10 1909._

Windows 10’s C updates are relatively rare. In the five months since Microsoft released Windows 10 1909, for example, the version has been served three D updates but zero C updates.

Wednesday’s May shuttering of C and D updates is the latest move by Microsoft to limit update efforts to security fixes or reduce IT overhead while the COVID-19 pandemic upends business, businesses in general and business processes. So far this month, Microsoft has extended support for Windows 10 1709 an additional six months for customers running Windows 10 Enterprise or Education, and curtailed feature upgrades for its Edge browser.

Microsoft gave no explanation as to why it’s waiting until May to suspend the non-security updates, rather than put the policy into immediate effect and thus block potential updates expected on April 21 (C) and/or April 28 (D).

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Microsoft releases Monthly Rollup previews for Win7, 8.1, Server 2008 SP2, 2012 and .Net

Just when you thought it was safe to relax a bit …

In the past couple of hours, Microsoft released a handful of Monthly Rollup previews and a smattering of similar, optional, updates. The list:

Win7 and Server 2008 R2 — KB 4525251 — Monthly Rollup preview appears to cover the same ground as KB 2952664 and, later, KB 4507456. If there’s anything included in the update other than more telemetry, Microsoft sure hasn’t told us. Here’s the sole description in the KB article:

Addresses an issue with evaluating the compatibility status of the Windows ecosystem to help ensure application and device compatibility for all updates to Windows.

Win8.1 and Server 2012 R2 — KB 4525252 — Monthly Rollup preview includes the above, uh, feature, as well as a fix for a bug in netdom.exe.

Server 2008 SP2 — KB 4525244 — Another Monthly Rollup preview. The KB article lists exactly zero changes from the previous cumulative update. None at all.

Similarly, Server 2012 — KB 4525242 — shows no changes from the previous cumulative update.

Over on the .Net side, look for:

Preview of Quality Rollup for .Net Framework 4.6, 4.6.1, 4.6.2, 4.7, 4.7.1, 4.7.2 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 — KB 4524421 — which shows minor fixes for ASP, CLR, SQL and WCF.

Preview of Quality Rollup for .Net Framework 4.8 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 — KB 4531182 — which lists minor fixes for ASP, WPF and CLR.

Pretty slim pickin’s — with two patches that seem to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Thx, @EP, @abbodi86

Follow us down the rabbit hole on

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Survey: Half of U.S. workers face one or more serious mobile issues monthly

A new survey of hundreds of U.S. companies shows that 51% of workers experienced at least one mobile device issue a month that hindered their ability to do their job – and the number of such problems is increasing.

The second annual State of Enterprise Mobility Survey found that mobile device failures can have financial impacts on companies, including lost productivity and workers calling in sick because of job stress – particularly for companies that use thousands of mobile devices in the field.

More than one-third (37%) of those surveyed experienced an increase in mobile device issues during the past 12 to 18 months; the most common failures involved unreliable network connections (45%); battery failure (41%); and apps that crash or become unstable (40%).

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The online survey was conducted by a market research company for mobile monitoring service B2M. It includes results from 550 companies, each of which had to manage a minimum of 500 mobile devices, with the average number of devices managed being 3,880. Included in the survey were companies in vertical industries such as government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, technology and engineering.

Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, agreed with some of the survey’s findings, saying that, while rare, a lack of network connectivity (both cellular and Wi-Fi) not only makes it harder to get work done productively, but “the annoyance factor is huge.”

Another aggravation: Poor battery life on older devices. The average battery is good for 200 to 300 discharge/recharge cycles before it becomes severely degraded, according to Gold. So older devices – even some that are only a year old but face high-use conditions – can easily need a recharge before users get a full day’s work done. “And that’s annoying too,” Gold said.

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Adding to the mobile problems – perhaps unexpectedly: business apps are generally not built as well as consumer apps because developers tend to spend more time on improving the user experience, according to Gold. Typically, the user experience with applications is either that they work great or barely function.

“Annoying users is a sure way to get people to complain, and there is nothing more annoying than getting in my way of being productive,” Gold said, even as he urged caution in reading the survey results. “Having said all that, I find many of these surveys questionable.”

According to Gold, without knowing more about the user base, it’s hard to evaluate the results compared to the larger mobile user community.

According to the B2M survey, employees feel anxious or stressed (69%) when mobile device failures prevent them from doing their jobs, an increase from 39% of workers who said that in last year’s survey. Thirty-seven percent of respondents have taken at least one day off in the last 12 months due to the stress of not being able to do their work because of mobility issues, more than double the number who said that in last year’s survey (16%).

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Mobility issues are also hurting enterprises when it comes to productivity, with 95% of all workers affected by mobile issues saying it has negatively affected productivity.

This year, the annual survey included reponses from 249 IT workers in charge of enterprise mobility in an effort to get their perspective on how they manage mobility, the outages they experience, and how to make things better for both admins and users.

While 96% of the IT workers surveyed indicated they have mobile device management or enterprise mobility management tools in place, only 2% said they get all the analytics they need to manage mobile devices.

“Mobility is a business-critical asset across most enterprises today, yet this research clearly highlights that mobile device failures are high in volume; negatively impacting productivity, staff morale and costing businesses revenue,” said Gary Lee, Chief Revenue Officer of B2M Solutions. “The research also reveals is a clear gap between the issues impacting frontline workers and visibility of these among the IT department.”

b2m mdm large B2M

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Widespread reports of freezing with yesterday’s Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups, KB 4493472 and KB 4493446

Patch Tuesday seemed uneventful until loads of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 machines, as well as Win8.1 and Server 2012 R2 machines, rebooted overnight. Looks like we have another throat-clutching bad round of patches to contend with.

Sophos Anti-Virus appears to be at the core of many reported bugs, but it’s still too early to tell if other software will get stung by the same changes.

Yesterday, as is its wont, Microsoft released a big bunch of patches: 74 separately identified security holes; two of them actively exploited; with every version of Windows, Office, IE and Edge plugged.

As of early this morning, the big news is the astounding gaggle of bugs being reported for the Win7 and Server 2008 R2 Monthly Rollup, KB 4493472, and the Win8.1 and Server 2012 R2 Monthly Rollup, KB 4493446. We’re still at the first-survivor’s round of complaints, but so far there have been reports on Spiceworks of:

  • Login screen stuck on Welcome and taking up to an hour to logon. And then even if they can login they freeze up completely.
  • Some of our 2008R2 servers were hanging at “applying computer settings”. Including the domain controller. After booting into safe mode and removing the update, the problem was gone.
  • All of our Windows 7 machines auto installed this update so we’ve spent since 8AM this morning going to each machine and removing it (having to boot into Safe mode). However the update simply will not remove from our HP ProDesk 400 G2 MINI’s we’ve had to take them out of service as they continue to get stuck even after the removal.

Over on the Sophos site:

  • Sophos AntiVirus service was logging lots of error messages in event log. Event IDs : 7022 (service hang), 80, 81, 83, 85, 82, 566, 608, 592. The server became unresponsive, no rdp, no file share access, Ctrl Alt Delete not working.

The people at Sophos just acknowledged the problem:

After installing the following Microsoft Windows updates Sophos has received reports of computers failing to boot:

Applies to the following Sophos product(s) and version(s)

Sophos Endpoint Security and Control

Sophos Central Endpoint Standard/Advanced

There’s no apparent solution, other than uninstalling the Windows patch — and that’s pretty complicated because you have to bypass the Sophos Anti-Virus service. Details in the post.

It’s not clear from Sophos’s mea culpa precisely which patches are implicated. They list two:

  • KB 4493467 – the April Win8.1 Security-only patch
  • KB 4493472 – the April Win7 Monthly Rollup

From that, I would infer (but can’t yet confirm) that two additional patches are involved:

  • KB 4493446 – the April Win8.1 Monthly Rollup
  • KB 4493448 – the April Win7 Security-only patch

Microsoft has yet to report on any of this. In particular, we don’t know if the patches only clobber Sophos Anti-Virus, or if there’s more collateral damage.

We’re keeping a close eye on the AskWoody Lounge.

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