Two excellent posts by “The Patch Lady”

Kudos to Susan Bradley aka “The Patch Lady” who gave us some interesting insight here as to how Microsoft plans to handle extended updates for Windows 7 (apparently the service plans are not available! Yuck!) and also sheds some light here on an FBI precinct’s recommendation to place all IOT (Internet Of Things) devices on a different network segment for security purposes.

Delays in Microsoft M365 subscriptions

The continued push for subscription based services and software is unavoidable at this point and we as users and consumers of whatever technology we are interested in really have no choice when it comes to how the heavy hitters such as Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and so on.

That being said, it’s surprising when a company like Microsoft struggles to communicate the benefits of or even stick to an already scheduled release date.

When it comes to their latest subscription based service, its somewhat baffling that there’s still confusion about when Microsoft 365 will be released and on top of that, what is this actual new “service” all about…

Fortunately for us, Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet.com does an excellent job at breaking down what’s going on with “M365″… check out her article here and let us know what you thoughts are about this.

“MECM” is here!

As you may recall, Microsoft made the announcement of Intune and ConfigMgr merging together at their Ignite Conference which took place last month.  We’ll it turns out that the first live, production version of the program is now available to the masses.  I’m looking forward to installing it in my lab environment as well as possibly deploying it in production at the school district!

Lots of information and articles on the new product is available online but one source you must visit would be Prajwaldesai.com who developed a great write-up about all the latest features of #MECM1910 here.  Check it out and let me know if and when you plan on deploying it in your environment whether it be for testing or production!

More Windows 7 FAQs

As we continue to get closer and closer to the Windows 7 end of life date, there are plenty of resources available that are aimed at users struggling with the transition to something newer or are forced to keep the soon to be obsolete OS in their respective production environment.

As with most things, Woody Leonard (the founder of Askwoody.com) has put out a terrific piece here outlining the “dos-and-dont’s” of Windows 7 at this stage.

Check it out and let me know if you or your organization is still dealing with those Windows 7 stragglers!

 

 

R.I.P. Google Cloud Print

According to Martin Brinkmann at GHacks.net, Google will be shutting down their Cloud printing service which much to my surprise remained in the beta stage for over ten years.

I remember using it when it first came out and the concept was a good one however as privacy concerns increased over the years coupled with the requirement that you had to be logged into your Google account with the Chrome browser, interest in it dropped off over the years.

Check out the details here along with Google’s explanation as to why they decided to shut it down…

 

R.I.P. Cortana

Well that was quick!  A mere four to five years after introduction, Microsoft has banished its digital assistant Cortana to its “dustbin” of history.  I don’t know about you but I never took much of a liking to its capabilities (very linited IMO) within Windows 10.

According to Gizmodo.com, it appears that Microsoft will most defer to Amazon’s Alexa when it comes to providing smart assistant capabilities.

Check out their article here as well as ones from TheVerge.com here and WindowsCentral.com here.

A day in the life of a Windows 10 user looking to upgrade…

I can truly appreciate the time and effort it took for this user to describe in detail her Windows 10 version upgrade experience…

Courtesy of AskWoody.com:

Last weekend, I decided to bite the bullet and update a Win10-1803 Pro machine to Win10-1809, using Windows Update. I’d taken a system image backup, and as it wasn’t my production machine, I wasn’t too worried.

This machine is under a year old, a purchase necessary when a hardware failure put paid to my trusty Win7 Pro laptop. It allows me to work more than I can manage at my desktop, and does most of the hard yards online, especially here.

Windows Update installed 1809 x64 2019-10B – this was before Woody changed MS-Defcon from 4 to 2. It took 20 minutes to Prepare to Install, and nearly 2 hours to download, and several hours to install.

Needless to say, it didn’t go to plan… The first indication of a problem was after several hours of installing, when a blue screen appeared bearing the words “Stopcode” and “Bad Pool Header”. It restarted, still on 1803, pending install. It continued installing. Eventually it restarted, and I was able to see KB 4521862 and KB 4519338 had installed – along with a bunch of drivers being updated, when the Pro settings were not to download drivers from Windows. I also noticed I hadn’t had to reset the Metered Connection settings to allow the update to download!

After it finished its update, it wasn’t working properly. It looked fairly normal, but restarting started problems – none of the visible desktop items actually worked – not the Start button, any of the TaskBar icons, or anything other than the Ctrl>Alt>Del routine.

I tried Sign Out. It took ages. It caused a loop of: Hi; We’re getting everything ready for you; This might take several minutes – don’t turn off your PC (that part remained until it got to Hi again); Leave everything to us; Windows stays up to date to help protect you in an online world; Making sure your apps are good to go; It’s taking a bit longer than expected, but we’ll get there as fast as we can. This loop took 5 minutes to restart, again, and again, and again.

It had been over 12 hours since the process started at this point. As I had to do my day job, I just left it chugging away in the background while I got on with earning an income. Over 5 hours later, it finally came up for air – a desktop, but still not functioning.

Along the way, I saw various errors:
Error 0x80072EE7
The gpsvc service failed the sign-in – access is denied
windows\system32\config\systemprofile\desktop is unavailable

To add to my woes, it wanted to restart itself again, where it re-entered the 5+ hour loop. I still had work to get done, so I just let it be. No stopcodes this time, but still it didn’t work.

I couldn’t access safe mode, even with Recovery Tool USB access. Start Up Repair “couldn’t fix [the] PC”. Using the Recovery Tool, I was able to access the Command Prompt, where SFC /SCANNOW reported “Not enough memory resources are available to process this command” the first time, and then, after it went through 100%, “Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation”. Attempting to use Restore Points was another failure – they were listed, but “unavailable”.

At this time, I decided it was time to try to restore the system image. Again, the gpsvc error. Apparently there had been some issue prior to the update attempt? I had to put it aside for a few days, until I got time to address it properly. By this stage, I was heading for an ISO file on a USB stick. This laptop now needs to be reset from the ground up, going back over all the metered connection, deferred updates, Customer Experience, Start Menu apps settings etc. etc. etc. – and I’m sure there’ll be something important I forget!

Having got the ISO installed, I was able to run SFC / SCANNOW and DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. All 100% clear, thank goodness.

There are only 5-6 programs to reinstall. If this had been a production machine, I’d have dozens of programs to have to reinstall. It’s still going to take another day or two until I get it back to normal, as I have other things I need to prioritize. If I’m a bit cranky this weekend, you now know why!

I’m really lucky I have a wealth of knowledge, support and expertise here at my disposal. A normal home user would have ended up paying for professional technical support, and if it had been my production machine, would have resulted in a loss of chargeable hours. I’m counting my blessings!

 

SCCM + Intune = Microsoft Endpoint Manager

One of the biggest announcement at Ignite 2019 is the merging of System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune into the newly named Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

This follows Microsoft’s continued goal of simplifying branding for its service / management tool offerings.  Upon reviewing the 1911 Technical Preview (TP), you can see the changes within the updated console…

One of the better detailed summaries on this change can be found here in an article written by Kurt Mackie for Redmondmag.com … I guess now I have some motivation for installing the latest TP if I want to get hands on with the new product!

Chrome 0 Day Halloween Exploit

For the second time this year, Google has released information urging everyone to update to the latest version of Google Chrome to combat a 0 Day vulnerability found in previous versions.

Most configurations of Chrome should be auto updating but it is suggested to push out the updated version which is 78.0.3904.87

As stated in the ZDNet.com article here

Per Kaspersky, the zero-day was found being deployed on user devices via a Korean-language news portal. The Russian antivirus company said it couldn’t link the zero-day’s use to a specific hacking group, although there are some code similarities with past North Korean malware. The company is tracking the current attacks using this zero-day under a codename of “Operation WizardOpium.”

Bottom line, the odds of being affected by this are very slim but nevertheless its worth the due diligence and ensuring you are all patched up!

 

The battle of the streaming set-top devices

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, tech companies have all but unveiled their latest offerings in anticipation that they will become a big hit with consumers.

One of the more appealing “stocking stuffers” as of late are set-top streaming devices that offer a myriad of entertainment options in the form of free streaming movies, news, music, and so much more.

After reviewing all available options, the latest Roku Ultra (2019 model) and Apple TV are definitely the top contenders.  When it comes to breaking down the pros and cons of each, AppleInsider.com (to my surprise indeed!) seems to have come up with the best and most unbiased assessment of these devices.

Check out the comprehensive review here for more details and let me know what you think about it!  Also, if you happen to own a device from either Apple or Roku, we would love to hear what you think about their respective performance.