Yesterday, Patch Tuesday, brought an enormous array of patches. We had nine security bulletins, none of which are particularly pressing. We saw 28 security updates for Office (including three of those security bulletins), one of which fixes a critical Excel bug that was introduced in the security patches last month. There are 40 new Office nonsecurity patches. We even got a patch, KB 3161102, which removes Windows Journal on Win10 machines.
And for those of you with Windows 10, you were upgraded overnight to build 14393.67, 14393.51, 10586.545, or 10240.17071.
If that sounds like a major shake-up of the Byzantium Army, you understand. Here's how to sort through the numeric carnage. (Remember you can always find your build number by typing "winver" in the search box.)
If you're running Windows Anniversary Update, version 1607, you are now on build 14393.51, thanks to KB 3176495. That's the fourth cumulative update for version 1607. I call it Win 10.2.4. The changes are extensive, including security patches for IE, Edge, graphics, kernel mode drivers, authentication, and the PDF library. The list of changed files goes on for pages and pages -- this is a very significant update.
You may recall that cumulative update 3 broke Cortana; I'm getting reports that this new update doesn't solve the Cortana problem introduced earlier. Which is great news if you don't want Cortana.
If you're a Windows Insider, also running version 1607, you should be at build 14393.67, but if you did a clean install of Win10, you probably aren't. That's because clean installs knock your machine out of the Insider builds. To get back in, click Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Insider Program and under the heading Get Insider Preview builds click Get started. Windows will restart, and you need to go back into the Windows Insider settings again to choose your level (Fast, Slow, Preview). After all of that, you have to go back to Windows Update and manually install the latest patch, KB 3176931.
Microsoft is making it painfully difficult to find documentation about Insider builds, but if you're using a Windows Insider account, you should be able to see the official announcement about 14393.67 (10.2.4.1?) by going to the Feedback Hub. I tried to go there on a non-Insider machine using an Insider ID, and I couldn't get in. Switching to an Insider machine, I discovered that Microsoft says that build 14393.67
… includes the same fixes as KB3176495 (Build 14393.51) with two additional fixes:
Addressed issue that causes significantly reduced battery life on Windows Phone when using Bluetooth with "Hey Cortana" feature enabled.
Addressed issue that prevents users from completing the out-of-box experience (OOBE) with a local account using Korean characters.
I have no idea why they shipped those fixes to Windows Insiders (Fast, Slow, and Preview) but not to Anniversary Update customers. Windows Phone users with Korean logons should feel slighted.
Further note to Windows Insiders (if you aren't confused enough already): Microsoft hasn't started shipping beta copies of Windows 10 -- the so-called Redstone 2 builds. Even if you're at 14393.67, you're still running the Anniversary Update, build 1607. If you want to get the beta builds of the next version (of the last version) of Windows, better check your Windows Insider settings. Microsoft also warns in the Feedback Hub that it's going to ship beta builds of Windows 10 desktop first, then mobile "a few weeks after."
Remember that this numbering system is supposed to make things clearer.
Moving down the evolutionary chain, if you're running Windows Fall Update, version 1511, you were upgraded to 10586.545, thanks to KB 3176493. There are so many changed files in this update that Microsoft released an Excel spreadsheet to list them all -- and the file's 12,062 lines long. This is the 15th cumulative update for Windows 10 build 1511. I would call it Win 10.1.15. Whaddya want to bet there are a few changes in there among the 12,000-plus changed files that make it easier to move from the Fall Update to the Anniversary Update?
Down in the knuckle-dragging range, Windows RTM (sometimes referred to as version 1507, but that isn't an official designation; I call it Win 10.0) moved to build 10240.17071. Thanks to the magic of KB 3176492, folks who still cling to the July 29, 2015, initial release of Windows 10 can see the same security updates as in the 1511 bump, with additional fixes. All told we're looking at more than 7,000 files changed. I bet some of those changes are Anniversary Update-upgrade friendly too.
The news is not good for those of you using Windows Journal files. An independently distributed update (not part of the cumulative updates noted above) called KB 3161102 aims to remove the Windows Journal from all Windows 10 versions up to and including the Fall Update, version 1511. (Windows Journal isn't in version 1607, the Anniversary Update.) I've talked about Window Journal before and have heard from several of you who still need it.
Long story short, it's an XP-era program that creates and uses JNT files. Unfortunately, JNT files are inherently insecure. Microsoft's been trying to fix the JNT file reader and finally threw up its hands. There's also writing on the wall. Per the KB article:
The file format that's used by Windows Journal (Journal Note File, or JNT) has been demonstrated to be susceptible to many security exploits. Therefore, Windows Journal will be removed from all versions of Microsoft Windows soon. This update lets users remove the Windows Journal component immediately. Because it is a more secure alternative to Windows Journal, we recommend that users download, install, and use Microsoft OneNote. Other mitigations for customers who have dependencies on Windows Journal are provided in this article.
But there's a bit of silver lining:
An installable version of the Windows Journal application is available. After you uninstall the Windows Journal component, you can install the Windows Journal application.... The Windows Journal application is functionally identical to the original Windows Journal component, but differs in the following ways:
The Windows Journal application contains a trusted notification message box that appears every time that a Windows Journal file is opened. This message box informs users of the security risks that are inherent to Windows Journal files, and asks users whether they want to open the file. Users must select Yes to open the Journal file.
The Windows Journal Note Writer is deprecated. The Journal Note Writer is a printer driver that lets users create Journal files by printing documents from any application.
If you dig a little deeper, you'll discover that the Windows Journal Application – which reads JNT files -- is still in beta. It only works on Windows 7 or later, and it won't work on any Server version.
That's a quick overview. If you're having problems installing any of the updates, head over to the Windows Answer forum, where a line is forming for problems with the 1511 update. Better, post your problem on Reddit, where Microsoft sage John Wink is holding court.
Hard to believe, but it's getting better, albeit a, uh, tad more complicated.