Archive for Microsoft

FBI Says To Businesses To Stop Using Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 5, 2020 by itnerd

The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a private industry notification (PIN) on Monday to partners in the US private sector about the dangers of continuing to use Windows 7 after the operating system reached its official end-of-life (EOL) earlier this year:

“The FBI has observed cyber criminals targeting computer network infrastructure after an operating system achieves end of life status,” the agency said. “Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered. “With fewer customers able to maintain a patched Windows 7 system after its end of life, cyber criminals will continue to view Windows 7 as a soft target,” the FBI warned. The Bureau is now asking companies to look into upgrading their workstations to newer versions of the Windows operating system.

The FBI is right. With no security updates coming for this operating system from Microsoft, anyone who is still using Windows 7 is a prime target for cybercriminals. Thus if you are still using Windows 7 for whatever reason, it is in your interest to move to Windows 10 to keep yourself safe. I know that transitioning to a new OS is not a painless process. But it is the right thing to do if you want to stay safe. Microsoft has a blog post that has suggestions on how to make that transition here that can help.

Citrix and Microsoft Partner To Accelerate The Future Of Work

Posted in Commentary with tags , on July 14, 2020 by itnerd

The workplace of the future will look a lot different than it did just a few months ago. The global pandemic has caused both employees and companies to rethink how and where work gets done. More organizations will make remote work a permanent part of their cost and workforce management strategies. They will also reexamine the structure and role of their office environments to keep employees safe and productive and enable greater agility across the enterprise. 

To drive business continuity and growth, organizations will need to embrace more flexible work models that accommodate these new priorities. Citrix Systems, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are joining forces to reimagine this new, flexible workplace. Employees need a consistent experience and seamless access to the applications and insights vital to doing their best work wherever work needs to get done. To address this challenge, the technology leaders today announced they will partner to help organizations accelerate the move to the cloud and speed adoption of digital workspaces and virtual desktops.

The multi-year agreement builds upon and expands one of the industry’s longest strategic partnerships. Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will select Citrix® Workspace as a preferred digital workspace solution, and Citrix will select Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform to move existing on-premises Citrix customers to Microsoft Azure and enable people to work anywhere across devices.

Citrix and Microsoft will provide joint tools and services to simplify and speed the transition of on-premises Citrix customers to Microsoft Azure. The companies will also devise a connected roadmap to enable a consistent and optimal flexible work experience that will include joint offerings comprised of Citrix Workspace, Citrix SD-WAN, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 sold through their direct sales forces via the Azure Marketplace and a robust community of channel partners. Microsoft will lead sales with Citrix Cloud to move existing on-premises Citrix customers to Azure. 

Both Citrix and Microsoft will maintain their long-standing policies of supporting choice for those customers who request alternatives to meet their business requirements.

Enabling the Agile Enterprise

The global pandemic has accelerated the need for companies to adopt a flexible operating approach that allows them to manage their resources – from talent to offices to technology – in a dynamic way that can scale quickly to adapt to changing market conditions. 

Delivering the Future of Work Today

Through the deepening of this partnership today, Citrix and Microsoft are helping CIOs to minimize the risk, cost, and complexity in accelerating their transformation to cloud and enable greater agility, productivity, and security. Combining the power of the cloud with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Citrix Workspace provides a platform for flexible work by giving employees unified access to all of the applications, content, and business services they need to be productive and secure wherever and whenever work needs to get done. 

Deepening Ties 

As part of their new agreement, Citrix and Microsoft will develop a connected roadmap to simplify and accelerate the transition of application workloads to Azure and enhance the performance of Windows Virtual Desktops. Together, Citrix Virtual Apps and DesktopsCitrix Managed Desktops and Windows Virtual Desktops will provide a complete and seamless way for customers to run all their application workloads on Azure and access Windows-based applications across devices or platforms.

Citrix will also invest in building a Microsoft-centric Citrix Workspace, providing deep integrations to optimize performance, functionality, and micro-apps for Windows Virtual Desktop and Microsoft 365, including Microsoft Teams. 

In addition, Citrix will use Azure and Microsoft 365 across its operations to accelerate innovation and enhance productivity.

Availability

Citrix Workspace is available for delivery on Azure today. Click here to learn more about how your organization can make the transition and the benefits that doing so can deliver.

For more insight on the impact of this partnership announcement, check out this executive video with Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft and PJ Hough, Chief Product Officer, Citrix.

Microsoft Forces Chrome Based Version Of Edge Upon Users…. And You Can’t Uninstall It…. WTF??

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 4, 2020 by itnerd

Microsoft is up to its old tricks again. This time they are using Windows Update to force feed the Chrome based version of the Microsoft Edge browser onto your computer. And if that isn’t bad enough, you can’t uninstall it. Here’s the details from The Verge:

If I told you that my entire computer screen just got taken over by a new app that I’d never installed or asked for — it just magically appeared on my desktop, my taskbar, and preempted my next website launch — you’d probably tell me to run a virus scanner and stay away from shady websites, no?

But the insanely intrusive app I’m talking about isn’t a piece of ransomware. It’s Microsoft’s new Chromium Edge browser, which the company is now force-feeding users via an automatic update to Windows.

Seriously, when I restarted my Windows 10 desktop this week, an app I’d never asked for:

  1. Immediately launched itself
  2. Tried to convince me to migrate away from Chrome, giving me no discernible way to click away or say no
  3. Pinned itself to my desktop and taskbar
  4. Ignored my previous browser preference by asking me — the next time I launched a website — whether I was sure I wanted to use Chrome instead of Microsoft’s oh-so-humble recommendation.

This is really low. Even for a company who is known for having a habit of doing things that can be considered to be incredibly shady. And this sort of scumbaggery has gotten them into trouble in the past. Here’s the mind blowing part. They aren’t even trying to hide it as they admit to what they are doing here. Talk about ballsy.

Now Microsoft will argue that they are updating users from the old Edge browser to the new Edge browser. And if they simply left it at that, I would be cool with this. But to then auto launch and try to get you to switch browsers is not cool. After all, users should have the choice to use whatever browser they want. This is where I think that someone like the US Government or the EU needs to educate Microsoft that this sort of behavior is not acceptable, and perhaps force them to moderate their behavior.

Commvault & Microsoft Team Up To Deliver SaaS & Cloud Technology For Data Management

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 30, 2020 by itnerd

Commvault today announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with Microsoft that tightly integrates go-to-market, engineering, and sales of Commvault’s Metallic Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) data protection portfolio with Microsoft Azure – delivering ultimate scale and trusted security with simple SaaS management.

Commvault and Microsoft are bringing together two technologies – Azure and Metallic SaaS – to meet the need for proven data protection backed by powerful scale and multi-layered security. Metallic enhances protection of Microsoft Office 365 data in the case of accidental deletion, corruption, and malicious attacks. Metallic also offers a range of additional options from VMware and Microsoft SQL database backup to Endpoint protection.

This new phase of the collaboration builds on Commvault’s longstanding use of Azure capabilities including application and data migration, long-term retention, and Azure Blob Storage for its scale, durability and security. The new agreement includes plans to build a SaaS offering of Metallic Cloud Storage on Azure Blob Storage and other deep product integrations with native Azure services.

One of Metallic’s strengths is that it was built in the cloud, using the best of Azure’s native capabilities while leveraging Commvault’s market-leading enterprise technology – the same technology stack that large enterprises have entrusted to protect their mission-critical apps and data. As part of the agreement, Metallic will be a featured app for SaaS data protection inthe Azure Marketplace for public cloud and hybrid IT customers. Commvault will also continue to support choice for customers who request alternative clouds based on business requirements. Metallic™ Backup & Recovery for Office 365 is now available on the Azure Marketplace.

Microsoft Closing Its Stores Worldwide

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 26, 2020 by itnerd

From the “I didn’t see this coming” file comes this announcement from Microsoft titled “Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail”. Which if you read it comes down to this: All their stores are closing. Here’s the details:

The company’s retail team members will continue to serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support. Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on Microsoft.com, and stores in Xbox and Windows, reaching more than 1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets. The company will also reimagine spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations.

If I had to take a guess, I don’t think that Microsoft stores yielded the results that Microsoft wanted them to hit. I visited the one in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall a few years ago, which ironically was down the hall from an Apple Store. My wife and I walked away with the impression that it was a slightly improved Apple Store that didn’t sell anywhere near the volume of what an Apple Store sells. There’s also the fact that with COVID-19 being a real threat, online sales and support are likely better options for customers. This was mentioned in the announcement as well.

In any case, RIP Microsoft Stores. We hardly knew ye.

Microsoft Releases Out Of Band Patch To Fix Printing Issues With Windows 10

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 18, 2020 by itnerd

Microsoft has released an out of band patch that you should run and download to fix printing issues that they created when they released this latest round of Patch Tuesday updates. Strangely, it was announced via Twitter:

In my mind, out of band updates, meaning that they aren’t part of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday update cycle aren’t optional. But in this case, if you don’t have problems printing to a directly attached printer, you shouldn’t install this. That brings me to what version of Windows 10 are covered by this update. Versions 1803, 1809, 1903 and 1909 are covered by this update. “Other affected versions of Windows will have updates released in the coming days,” Microsoft added. Thus if you’re on Windows 10 version 2004, and you have a dead printer, you’ll have a little longer to wait.

At the end of the day, this situation can be summed up like this:

#Fail: Microsoft Windows 10 Update Kills Printers Directly Connected To Computers

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2020 by itnerd

Last week’s “Patch Tuesday” update for Windows 10 has led to a rather serious problem for people who need to print. Which would be a lot of people seeing as a lot of us are working from home these days. The issues appear connected to KB4557957 and KB4560960 for Windows 10 2004 and 1903/1909 respectively. And the bug is that when one of both of these updates are installed, printers attached directly to the computer won’t work. Networked printers however work just fine. Remove the offending updates, and things will work as normal.

A look at Reddit and Microsoft’s forums show that this isn’t isolated to just a few users. Microsoft hasn’t seen fit to admit that this is a problem with these specific updates. But Microsoft has admitted that something has gone off the rails with the way with USB printer ports from version 1903 to the new version 2004 which I told you to avoid if it isn’t being offered to you.

Microsoft really needs to step up here and fix this ASAP as this is clearly affecting a whole lot of people who are remote working at the moment. And it’s yet another black eye on Microsoft who doesn’t seem to have the ability to update their operating system without breaking anything in the process.

Windows 10 Version 2004 – Here’s What You Need To Know

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 12, 2020 by itnerd

Rolling out to a PC near you is the latest Windows 10 Feature Update. Version 2004 which is also known as the May 2020 update brings a bunch of new features, and some new problems. Let’s start with the new features:

  • Cortana has changed substantially. And you will either love it or hate it.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 is now shipping as part of this version of Windows 10.
  • Notepad is enhanced.
  • Search has been improved.
  • Windows Sandbox is improved.
  • Virtual desktop support has improved.
  • Task Manager is improved
  • Accessibility features are improved
  • Various settings functionality including BlueTooth and recovery have been improved.

You can get the full details here. That’s the good news.

The bad news that there are lots of problems. Microsoft published a long list of known issues that have not been resolved yet on the official Windows 10 release information page. A total of ten issues are listed on the page currently, and the key thing here is those issues will block the new feature update from being offered to your computer. On top of that, various Lenovo devices have issues with this feature update.

My advice is that if this update is not offered to your computer, do not install it. While there are ways to get the update if it is not offered to you on your Windows 10 computer, it is in your best interests to take advantage of them. I would also recommend updating your drivers for things like video cards and the like as at least one of the bugs that Microsoft has noted relates to out of date Nvidia video drivers. That way you stand a better chance of having a successful update. Also, make a backup so that you can roll back to a working state if things go south. But if I were you, I’d wait until Microsoft sort out their issues with this update.

Outlook.com Was Down…. But All Is Fine Now

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2020 by itnerd

Just before 4PM EST it seemed that Outlook.com went down. I tried to log in during that time and I got this:

A few minutes later, I couldn’t get this page. Instead I never got to a page. But it is clear that something was wrong. Though if you checked the Office 365 Status page, all was apparently good:

I also noted that Outlook.com email accounts on my iPhone weren’t working as well. But at 4:20PM things came back up. So all is fine now. Thus if you noticed an issue with Outlook.com on the web or on your device, you know why now.

Microsoft To Kneecap Cortana In A Future Windows 10 Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 3, 2020 by itnerd

Microsoft put out a blog post on Friday to talk about the changes that are coming to Cortana, the virtual assistant that nobody seems to care about. The first big change is this:

Through this updated Cortana experience, we will roll out new Cortana services delivered through Microsoft 365 backed by the privacy, security and compliance promises of Office 365 services as set out in the Online Services Terms. Protecting your data and privacy is our highest priority, and we give you control over your data.

In short, Microsoft is going to move Cortana to the world of Office 365. But that’s not all, there’s this:

As part of Cortana’s evolution into a personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365, you’ll see some changes in how Cortana works in the latest version of Windows 10. We’ve tightened access to Cortana so that you must be securely logged in with your work or school account or your Microsoft account before using Cortana, and some consumer skills including music, connected home and third-party skills will no longer be available in the updated Cortana experience in Windows 10. We’re also making some changes to where Cortana helps you. As part of our standard practice, we are ending support for Cortana in older versions of Windows that have reached their end-of-service dates. We recommend that customers update their devices to the latest version of Windows 10 to continue using Cortana. We’ll also be turning off the Cortana services in the Microsoft Launcher on Android by the end of April.

So it seems that Microsoft is killing off anything that is consumer focused that relates to Cortana. To be frank, I am not sure anyone will miss that. Seeing as I am pretty sure nobody uses Cortana. But hey, it’s not all bad news. Assuming that you pay up for Office 365, you can have Cortana retrieve upcoming appointments, set reminders or change settings. The emphasis, according to Microsoft, will be on “productivity.” Though again, I don’t know if anyone would actually use it seeing as pretty much nobody uses it now. But you can’t blame Microsoft for trying to play in the sandbox with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.