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Microsoft stretches support for SharePoint Server 2010, Windows 10 1809

Microsoft on Tuesday extended support by six months for more products, telling customers that SharePoint Server 2010 will now receive updates until April 13, 2021 and that Windows 10 1809 will get security fixes until Nov. 10, 2020.

“In response to the COVID-19 crisis and an increase in customer requests, we have decided to revise support for SharePoint Server 2010 products and technologies,’ Mark Kashman, senior product manager on the SharePoint team, wrote in an April 14 post to a company blog.

SharePoint Server 2010 was to have exited support Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, the company also postponed the end-of-support date for Windows 10 1809. “To help ease some of the burdens customers are facing, we are going to delay the scheduled end-of-service date for the Home, Pro, Pro Education, Pro for Workstations, and IoT Core editions of Windows 10, version 1809, to November 10, 2020,” the Redmond, Wash. firm stated in the Windows message center. From June through November, Microsoft will provide vulnerability patches only.

Windows 10 1809, which Microsoft released in November 2018, was originally set to exhaust its support May 12.

Other products also received six-month reprieves, including SharePoint Foundation 2010, Project Server 2010, Windows Server 1809 and the current branch of Configuration Manager 1810. The extensions will continue to provide monthly security updates – and emergency fixes if necessary – as well as both paid and self-help support.

Microsoft announced its first pandemic-related support retirement delay four weeks ago when it added six months to Windows 10 1709, giving Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education users until Oct. 13 to migrate to a newer version. At the time, Microsoft did not explain why it selected six months rather than a longer stretch, a year, for instance.

Nor did it offer a rationale today. But Microsoft made clear that it believes the six month delay would be all for SharePoint. “Microsoft has no plans to extend support for SharePoint 2010 beyond April 13, 2021,” wrote Kashman. “This is a one-time extension due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Not surprisingly, Microsoft recommended that customers shift from an on-premises SharePoint Server product to Microsoft 365, the top-end subscription program that includes Office 365 applications and services (including SharePoint Online), Windows 10, and a set of security and management tools. Microsoft has aggressively pitched subscriptions to customers, arguing that the rent-not-buy model ensures users always have the latest in hand. The regular – and never ending – revenue, of course, is a boon to Microsoft’s bottom line.

Businesses that want to continue running on-premises SharePoint can upgrade to one of the three newer editions: SharePoint Server 2013, 2016 or 2019. The first exits support April 11, 2023, while the second and third run out of support on July 14, 2026.

Unfortunately, there is no simple upgrade path between the 2010 and 2019 editions. Instead, customers must upgrade from 2010 to 2013, next from 2013 to 2016, then finally from 2016 to 2019. More information on this phased approach is available here.

Microsoft has a full slate of products due to lose support in October

The SharePoint Server 2010 deferment may not be Microsoft’s last. A large number of products are scheduled to fall off the support rolls this year and arguably need just as much extra time as SharePoint Server 2010 and Windows 10.

Office 2010 and its several suite SKUs (stock-keeping units); Office 2016 on the Mac; separate applications, like Word 2010 and Excel 2010; and associated on-premises servers, including Exchange Server 2010 – all are due to expire Oct. 13.

Windows 10 also has some impending 2020 dates, too. Windows 10 Enterprise 1803 and Windows 10 Education 1803 are currently scheduled to lose support Nov. 10, while all SKUs of Windows 10 1903, from Home to Enterprise, are to retire Dec. 8.

Awarding everything now sporting a 2020 retirement date with six more months would shift the burden into next year. Office 2010, for example, would not lose support until April 13, 2021. Windows 10 1803 and 1903 would receive updates until May 11, 2021 and June 8, 2021, respectively.

It’s unclear whether Microsoft will extend all deadlines. It has a slew of factors to consider, ranging from its estimate for the length of time businesses will have employees working from home to an obvious desire not to unduly postpone revenue-producing upgrades and shifts to subscriptions.

At the same time, customers will likely ask why they can’t have more time to migrate from, say, Exchange Server 2010, when others were given six more months to move off SharePoint Server 2010. And wonder, with cause, with the retirement deadlines of Windows 10 1809 and 1903 less than a month apart, why the latter doesn’t get the same extension already given to the former.

Microsoft may want to keep support extensions to a minimum because of the disruption they cause to the overall schedule, but that horse has left the barn. In truth, the calendar is already a shambles. For a short time metronomic, Windows 10’s cadence has sputtered instead, with support spans of 18 months and 24, 30 months and 36.

It seems reasonable that Microsoft will continue to add support time as the pandemic – and its impact on society and business both – continues.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Why Microsoft should postpone Windows 10’s next feature upgrade, 2004

Microsoft may have the next Windows 10 upgrade burning a hole in its pocket, but if it’s smart, the Redmond, Wash. developer will keep that code to itself for now.

In fact, software developers could do all tech users a big favor by slapping a moratorium on all non-security, feature-filled updates and upgrades until further notice.

Call it “software distancing,” but rather than make versions stand six feet apart force them to keep six months’ separation.

Why hold Windows 10 2004? Because we’re busy, in case you haven’t noticed

Microsoft must be eager to dispatch Windows 10 2004, the year’s spring feature upgrade: It’s been working on the refresh for more than a year now. But really, what’s the rush? After 13+ months of testing, testing and more testing, another half dozen isn’t going to hurt.

In fact, there are several reasons why postponing the upgrade makes good sense.

IT and users have higher priorities right now

At the top of the list is the simple fact that everyone has more important things to do than process a feature upgrade to Windows 10.

That item may be short-lived – it will get scratched out at some point – but that’s why timing must play a part in Microsoft’s decision (and outsiders’ appeals). Even for faster-acting companies, such as Microsoft itself, as well as Amazon and Google, it has been just one month since they told employees to head home and, if possible, work remotely.

Everyone is still settling in, especially those who have never worked at home or from the field for extended periods. Ditto for the IT staffs with little experience managing devices outside the office perimeter. Employees of all kinds, line workers and IT alike, are heads-down getting used to the situation, stressed out, if by nothing else (and there are many elses here), than by the newness of it all.

It won’t be like this the entire time America (and elsewhere) are locked down. People and organizations will adapt. But right now? They’re busy.

Bandwidth doesn’t grow on trees

Microsoft has already begun prepping IT personnel n the nuts and bolts of updating large numbers of remote PCs. One of the items it has focused on has been potential chokepoints, notably the VPN (virtual private network) many firms mandate when outside-the-perimeter machines access corporate assets and information.

Because workers now located at home are likely connecting to the corporate network via VPN, updates and upgrades may get shoved through the latter, overwhelming the VPN’s capacity. In several technical posts, including here and here, Microsoft has been showing admins how best to manage updates when VPNs are in place.

Ideally, Microsoft said, updates should not go through the VPN but directly to the Internet. “The Microsoft recommended approach is to configure the VPN client to only send traffic bound for corporate resources located on-premises via the VPN connection, allowing all other traffic to go directly to the Internet and to be routed accordingly,” the company asserted. “This is how the VPN is configured internally at Microsoft.”

Upgrades, of course, are significantly larger (measured in gigabytes) than the monthly updates on, say, Patch Tuesday – all the more reason why they would negatively impact the connections between remote clients and the company’s on-premises infrastructure.

And it’s all the more reason for Microsoft to back off on Windows 10 2004 until IT sorts out the VPN situation, or better yet, the bulk of the workforce returns to the office and its internal network.

In a more general sense, bandwidth is simply a precious commodity. Not everyone has a fat pipe for a home connection to the Internet, for instance. (Some may not have an Internet account at all, relying instead on their smartphone and a metered – and expensive – data plan from a mobile carrier.) What bandwidth is at hand is occupied with more important traffic.

“The last thing we need right now coming down our already-full pipes filled with Zoom and Team meetings is a feature release,” contended Susan Bradley, a computer network and security consultant, the moderator of the mailing list and the contributor known as “The Patch Lady” to the Windows tip site.

Help desk personnel are stretched thin

Everyone is busy adjusting to the new regimes, but the help desk is busier than most. Personnel have scrambled to get remote workers up and running, helping employees diagnose problems with systems and network configurations outside the corporate standard, forwarding cables and monitors to at homers. And while much of what the reps did – and continue to do – could and can be done remotely, there are parts of their jobs that required them to be at a specific somewhere, like when they needed to do an in-person examination of a system to uncover the root of a problem.

Those cubicle calls are now so much history, forcing the help desk to make adjustments.

Throw in a feature upgrade, even one that goes smoothly, and the calls might well overwhelm the help resources. And if the upgrade goes south? (As some of Windows 10’s have.) No one even wants to think about that.

“We don’t have the excess help desk capacity,” argued Bradley. “We need to focus on security and not features at this time.”

By holding back Windows 10 2004, Microsoft could put more in it

For an upgrade that has been in the works – and in public testing with Insider participants – for more than a year, Windows 10 2004 looks light on the new features and functionality.

It’s not clear what within 2004 – at least of what Microsoft has revealed – required the extra effort. In February 2019, when Microsoft departed from its established schedule and began beta testing the first upgrade of 2020 before starting to test the second for 2019, the firm said “some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time.” (20H1 was Microsoft-ese for the first feature upgrade of 2020, or what later was numbered Windows 10 2004.)

Late last year, Microsoft severed the links between under-development features and future upgrades, saying that it would put the former into one of the latter “when they are ready.”

Microsoft has been testing numerous features that didn’t make it into 2004 – which was locked down, feature-wise, in late 2019 – and could put its money where its mouth is by using the additional time to add some to the upgrade.

Holding Windows 10 2004 would be a great excuse to scale back to one upgrade a year

Yet another reason 2004 should be postponed has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic. But Microsoft could take advantage of circumstances to do what many users want from the company: a single upgrade annually.

Microsoft, in fact, showed its hand last year when it downgraded the second upgrade to little more than a repeat of the first, a minor upgrade that included so few new features it was dubbed a “service pack.” During 2019, there was really just the one feature upgrade worthy of the name, even though Microsoft went through the distribution process twice.

Earlier changes by Redmond, including the lengthening of support for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education customers, then Microsoft’s abdication of control of when upgrades occur, put most customers on a once-a-year cadence. Microsoft would be smart to simplify Windows 10’s maintenance by reducing the number of upgrades issued to the number customers are typically installing.

Which is one per year.

If Microsoft were looking for an opportunity to downshift to one feature upgrade annually, this is it. Even those who still hewed to the Windows-as-a-service concept and saw value in multiple upgrades each year would likely accept the news that 2020 would offer just a single feature upgrade. (Microsoft, as it has done in the past, could couch the move as temporary but make it permanent after the crisis subsides.)

Giving the decision positive spin, a sacrifice for the greater good, should be a snap for Microsoft’s PR, enough perhaps to make many forget that Microsoft set great stock in a faster release tempo and explained the multiple yearly upgrades as necessary to keep pace with technology’s changes.

Microsoft should think of it as a win-win.

But, but…what about support and deadlines?

True, Microsoft would have to massage the schedule if it postpones the launch of Windows 10 2004, no matter the reason for the delay.

Fortunately, that’s as easily done as making an announcement, like the one last month when Microsoft added six months of support to the I-didn’t-know-you-could-still-run-that version, Windows 10 1709.

Windows 10 1903, which according to analytics company AdDuplex accounted for 51% of all Windows 10 versions as of March 25, would be one Microsoft would have to modify. Normally, Microsoft would begin to replace 1903 on PCs running Windows 10 Home or unmanaged systems running Windows 10 Pro, with 2004 around the end of July or start of August. (Windows 10 1903 is currently scheduled to end support Dec. 8.) A 2004 launch set for anything beyond late June or early July would make that difficult or impossible. Instead, Microsoft would likely extend 1903’s end-of-support, maybe by the same six months as 1709. (That would make 1903’s support run until June 8, 2021, a month later than 1909’s retirement of May 11. 2021. In this scenario, both 1903 and 1909 would be upgraded to 2004 by Microsoft early next year.)

On the other hand, if Microsoft took advantage of the COVID-19  crisis to scale back to an annual cadence, it would need to do more.

First, it should rename the feature upgrade to a more accurate four-digit number, like 2009, if it waits until September or October. By Microsoft’s rules, 2009 (née 2004) would receive 30 months of support on Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education. Assuming an October launch, the version would exit support in April 2023. That would be a problem, seeing as how there wouldn’t be an upgrade released in the spring of 2023.

If Microsoft issues one upgrade annually, it would make sense to extend support to 36 months. As the following figure shows, enterprises would have to be fairly agile to run an every-two-years upgrade tempo when support ends at 30 months. Stretch support an additional six months, however, and companies would be able to upgrade on a two-year cycle and still take 12 months to test, pilot and deploy each version.

Win10 delay calendar IDG/Gregg Keizer

If Microsoft shifts to a single Windows 10 upgrade each year, it should also extend support for Enterprise and Education customers to 36 months.

Microsoft could stay stingy on Home and Pro, retaining the 18-month support span for those SKUs (stock-selling units), forcibly upgrading devices as the previous version neared retirement. Those systems would continue to be upgraded approximately every 12 months.

Next, Microsoft should spell out the new tempo and any associated changes necessary to make the every-12-month rhythm workable.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Memory-Lane Monday: And he’s still on Windows 7 to this day

It’s back in the … never mind; you’ll figure out the time frame soon enough.

This third-tier support pilot fish is used to getting the really difficult cases, and he suspects that why a ticket has been routed to him. A user would like to have Windows 7 installed on his PC. He’s close to retirement, and he’s a nice enough guy. But he also has a son in IT who provides him with tips and tricks to make his job easier.

Today’s tip from sonny: Get Windows 7 at work in order to be more productive.

Fish explains to the user that Windows 7 isn’t yet supported by IT. There are plans to roll it out, but not this year.

“He protests and throws his hands up and goes back to work,” fish says. The ticket is closed.

“The next day, we get a new ticket with a request for Windows 7.”

This time the ticket includes a long list of the benefits of Windows 7 over the current Windows version. The request ends, “When can I get it installed?”

Fish makes another trip to the user’s desk and explains that the advantages are well-identified and the benefits are also well-known. But, he goes on, the investment is large because IT has to test the company’s systems to ensure they can run on the new operating system.

“He throws his hands up and goes back to work,” reports fish.

“The next day, we get a new ticket with a specific request for Windows 7 Pro with Windows XP virtual running for programs that are not compatible.”

This time, fish goes looking for the help desk supervisor — and they hatch a plan.

They bring the user’s PC into the shop for its upgrade. There, they install a different desktop theme and wallpaper to give the user’s Windows XP a fresh look.

Then they sit down with the user, train him on the “new” system, and even show him how to pin items to the toolbar — just like in Windows 7.

“Next day, we get a thank-you note from the user for installing Windows 7 on his computer, saying how much better it performs,” fish says.

“A copy of the note ends up getting to our boss’s boss, who blows up and decides to pay us a visit.

“We explain the situation and the available options. He agrees that we made the right decision, considering the other options.

“And we all breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

Sharky can be just as persistent in asking for your true tales of IT life. Send them to me at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Windows by the numbers: Windows 7 holds fast as pandemic upends everything

Windows 10’s share remained flat in March, though users had an excuse for pausing migrations: the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

According to metrics vendor Net Applications, Windows 10 accounted for 57.3% of global OS share last month and represented 64.3% of the various flavors of Windows powering PCs. Although the former was near a tie with the month prior, the latter – a better indication of Windows 10’s success in convincing users to upgrade – was significantly lower than February’s 65.1%.

Windows 10’s percentage of only Windows PCs was larger than the percentage of all personal computers because Windows did not power every system. In March, Windows was the OS of 89.2% of the world’s personal computers – an increase of a full point. Of the rest, all but a tiny fraction ran macOS, Linux or Chrome OS, in decreasing order.

A March increase in Windows overall share was the cause of Windows 10’s decrease when calculated as a portion of just Windows. (Windows 10’s part of the pot didn’t get larger in March, but the pot itself did.)

The stabilization of Windows 10’s share, following February’s very minor uptick, has altered the forecast for the operating system. All signs point now toward a significantly slower uptake.

Rather than reaching 75% by September and nearly 80% by the end of 2020 – numbers from last month’s prediction – Windows 10 now looks like it won’t make those marks until January 2021 and May 2021, respectively.

It’s impossible to know with any certainty, of course, but the pandemic and its countless disruptions of normality, from business closures to workers trying to keep things running from home, has to have put the kibosh on migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10. With everything in such flux, if not downright chaos, it’s easy to believe that many have decided that now isn’t the time for anything but the most critical tasks.

And a Windows 7-to-Windows 10 upgrade, even when the former has had its security updates terminated, no longer deserves a spot on that task list.

Windows 7 stays strong

As Windows 10 moved nary a whit, Windows 7 actually grew its share during March.

Net Applications pegged Windows 7 at 26.2% of all desktop operating systems, up a percentage point from February. As a portion of only Windows, the 2009 OS was estimated at 29.4%, a gain of eight-tenths of a point over the month prior. The increases were the largest since September 2019.

The numbers don’t mean that 12 million or so PCs magically reverted to Windows 7, transformed from Windows 10 as part of some secret rollback. Instead, the Net Applications’ data, which measured activity, may have simply signaled that many dusted off their older, largely unused personal PCs when they were told by employers to head home and work – or try to work – from there.

If that speculation has some factual basis, Net Applications should continue to report a steadfastness by Windows 7 as those machines are pressed into service through the COVID-19 crisis. In turn, Microsoft might be pressed by customers, including its very important commercial, enterprise-sized customers, to restore security updates to Windows 7 for, perhaps, the duration of the pandemic.

Microsoft already produces those updates for its corporate Extended Security Updates (ESU) program, which for a fee has provided companies fixes for vulnerabilities tagged as “Critical” or “Important” during both February and March. The Redmond, Wash. developer could deliver these patches to every Windows 7 PC – again, as long as the work-at-home mandates last – and compensate paying customers by extending the updates by as many months.

Elsewhere in Net Applications’ data, Windows 8/8.1 bumped up one-tenth of a percentage point, ending March at a 4.2% share of all personal computers but 4.8% of those running Windows. Meanwhile, macOS sloughed off half a percentage point last month, powering 8.9% of all personal computers. It was the first time since July 2019 that Apple’s operating system slumped below 9% and its lowest mark in two and a half years.

Net Applications calculates operating system share by detecting the agent strings of the browsers used to reach the websites of Net Applications’ clients. The firm tallies visitor sessions to measure operating system activity.

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Get the March Windows and Office patches installed, but watch out for known bugs

It’s been another Keystone Kops month, with a reasonably stable Patch Tuesday, followed by a hasty Patch Thursday to cover a security hole Microsoft accidentally blabbed, then the usual buggy “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch, finishing with a fix for yet another bug introduced by earlier patches.

Plus ça change …

Along the way we got a quiet fix for a bug in Windows Defender. And a warning about yet another bad-font-takes-over-your-PC security hole. Microsoft has toned down its original warning about that Type 1 Font Parsing security hole, and now says it’s mostly a less-severe problem with Windows 7 and related servers.

All the while, in spite of loud sirens from many corners, there have been exactly zero emergencies, where a Microsoft patch fixed a hole that’s being widely exploited.

Which means it’s a good time to make sure you have the March patches installed, in preparation for what awaits in WFH April. Here’s how to do it.

Make a full backup

Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup

Install the latest Win10 March Cumulative Update

If you haven’t yet moved to Win10 version 1909 (in the Windows search box type winver and hit Enter), I recommend that you do so. The bugs in version 1903 are largely replicated in 1909 and vice versa, so there’s very little reason to hold off on making the switch — although, admittedly, there’s almost nothing worthwhile that’s new in version 1909. I have detailed instructions for moving to 1909 here.

To get the latest March Cumulative Update installed, click Start > Settings > Update & Security. If you see a Resume updates box (screenshot), click on it.

1903 updates paused Woody Leonhard/IDG

That’s all you need to do. Windows, in its infinite wisdom, will install the March Cumulative Update at its own pace. If you don’t see a Resume updates box, you already have the March Cumulative update and you’re good to go.

If you see a come-on for the “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patch KB 4541335 (screenshot), simply ignore it. There’s absolutely nothing in that patch that you need or want, and it’s causing all sorts of problems.

1909 optional update available 2 Woody Leonhard/IDG

There’s a reason why Microsoft is discontinuing these step-in-the-mess “optional” patches.

When your machine comes back up for air, don’t panic if your desktop doesn’t look right, or you can’t log in to your usual account. You got bit by the “temporary profile” bug, which we’ve known about — and complained about — for more than a month. We have three separate threads on AskWoody about solving the problem (1, 2, 3) and if you need additional help, you can always post a question. (Thx @PKCano.)

Also, don’t be overly surprised if you discover that, after installing the March patches, your internet connection disappears when you connect to a virtual private network. Yep, that’s another bug introduced by this month’s patches. For a change, Microsoft has actually documented the bug — and released a fix. You should only install the manual-download-only patch of a patch KB 4554364 if you’re getting knocked offline when connecting to a VPN. If your internet stays connected, simply ignore this warning. You’ll get updated in April. At least, theoretically.

While you’re mucking about with Windows Update, it wouldn’t hurt to pause updates, to take you out of the direct line of fire the next time Microsoft releases a buggy bunch of patches. Click Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click “Pause updates for 7 days.” Next, click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” four more times. That pauses all updates for 35 days, until early May. With a little luck that’ll be long enough for Microsoft to fix any bugs it introduces in April. And the March stragglers, for that matter.

Patch Win7, Win8.1, or associated servers

If you’ve paid for Win7 Extended Security Updates and you’re having trouble getting them installed, Microsoft has a new article called Troubleshoot issues in Extended Security Updates that may be of help. We’re also fielding questions on AskWoody. 

0patch continues to provide patches for Win7, going so far as to fix the announced new font parsing bug, which Microsoft itself hasn’t even fixed as yet. 

If you’re running Win7 and haven’t been able to get Extended Security Updates working (there are lots of reported problems!), @abbodi86 offers a script that’ll let you install the latest Win7 security patches, bypassing the ESU restrictions.

Several high-profile security guri, including Patch Lady Susan Bradley, have called on Microsoft to open up its March 2020 Win7 patches to everybody, particularly considering the number of people who are working from home, on older machines, through no fault of their own.

Windows 8.1 continues to be the most stable version of Windows around. To get this month’s puny Monthly Rollup installed, follow AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated March 10 (the Patch Tuesday patch). No, you don’t want the Preview of Monthly Rollup.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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