Goodbye Office 365! Hello Microsoft 365!

The writing was on the wall for quite some time; Microsoft finally made the announcement that it has launched the new subscription service Microsoft 365 and that it will migrate Office 365 Personal and Home users to the new plans automatically in the coming weeks.

The company calls it “the subscription service for your life to help you make the most of your time, connect, and protect the ones you love, and to develop and grow”.

At its core, Microsoft 365 is still Office 365 but with lots of AI and cloud services added to the mix.

An evolution of Office 365, Microsoft 365 builds on the foundation of Office infusing new artificial intelligence (AI), rich content and templates, and cloud-powered experiences to empower you to become a better writer, presenter, designer, manager of your finances, and deepen your connection to the people in your life.

Microsoft 365 will feature a new Family Safety app that Microsoft plans to roll out as a preview in the coming months.

Make the most of your 365 image

Microsoft highlights some of the new features of Microsoft 365 in a new blog post on the company’s website. Here is a summary of that lengthy post:

  • Microsoft Editor in Word and Outlook — AI powered spelling and grammar checking, rewrite suggestions, similarity checker, style critiques and more.
  • Presenter Coach in PowerPoint — AI monitors your speech and provides you with information on certain issues, e.g. if you are talking too fast or saying “umm” too many times.
  • PowerPoint Designer — new features and options, e.g. auto-creation of multiple slides when adding a photo to pick one, access to some Getty Images and videos, new icons and fonts, and more.
  • Money in Excel — Connect bank and credit card accounts to Money in Excel or import transactions and balances manually (powered by Plaid) to track spending habits, give personal insights and more.
  • New data types in Excel — Option to convert data into one of the more than 100 new data types, e.g. food or movies, to create visual and interactive data cards and images.
  • Outlook — new options to link personal calendars to the work calendar to show “real availability” in the work account “while still maintaining privacy around the details of personal appointments and business meetings”.
  • Access to Skype and new Microsoft Teams features.
  • Microsoft Family Safety — New app for Android and iOS to manage family members better. Features include location sharing and notifications, overseeing kids activity on devices. and more.
  • Partner benefits program (U.S. only) — Free trials or free services for a “limited period”.

The new Microsoft 365 is rolling out to Office 365 customers and will become available for new customers worldwide on April 21, 2020. The price remains the same

Small and medium-sized businesses may want to check out the new Microsoft 365 offerings for small and medium-sized businesses.

Now You: Are you an Office 365 subscriber? If not, which Office program do you use?

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Microsoft launches its Bing Coronavirus Tracker

Keeping track of Coranavirus news can be quite the time-consuming process and a burden as well considering that you need to find reliable information.

Microsoft just launched its Coronavirus tracker on Bing. COVID-19 Tracker provides statistics and information about the spread of the virus in the world.

The startpage lists the total confirmed cases, cases by country, and each of these divided into active, recovered and fatal cases. There is also a map which highlights how individual regions are impacted by the virus.

Microsoft is pulling data from several sources including CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), WHO (World Health Organization), and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control).

microsoft bing coronavirus tracker

A click on  a country lists active, recovered and fatal cases for that country. More interesting is the news section that provides a chronological list of news bits for the selected region.

If you select Italy, one of the countries hit the hardest by the virus at the time of writing, you find a list of news pieces that you may find useful. The news section is powered by Bing News; I saw German and English news articles listed by Bing and the filtering seemed to work fairly well. Chance is that you may get different languages based on the language settings of your computer.

There is also a video section below the news part, powered by Bing Video, with videos about the virus and the selected country.

One thing that is missing is an option to receive updates. The Coronavirus tracker site does not provide options to receive news updates, e.g. by email, RSS, or messaging service. What you can do, however, is use the Bing News or Bing Video RSS option.

All you need to do is append &format=rss to the URL, e.g. turn https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=coronavirus%20Italy to https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=coronavirus%20Italy&format=rss to get a RSS feed of the filtered news. You may then subscribe to the news in a RSS feed reader, e.g. QuiteRSS or the browser extension Smart RSS Reader, or any other program, extension or service, to receive updates as they become available.

Now You: how do you keep track of the virus and news?

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Microsoft announces retirement of the TechNet Gallery (and all its scripts)

Microsoft announced plans to retire the company’s TechNet Gallery last week. TechNet Gallery was a  community-powered website that allowed members to share scripts, tools, and guides for use with Microsoft products and services.

Microsoft revealed that TechNet Gallery hosts over 25,000 contributions from community members and MVPs currently, and that all of these contributions will be deleted.

The company set the entire TechNet Gallery site to read-only mode recently and plans to redirect the entire site to the Microsoft Docs Samples Browser page.

microsoft technet gallery retire

Microsoft recommends that owners of resources that are hosted on the TechNet Gallery website should migrate these “to a GitHub project if it is a tool, script, or utility”. For technical documentations and guides, Microsoft suggests to “re-host it on a website” so that people who find it useful may contact the owner of the document.

Existing projects won’t be archived on GitHub which means that creators are on their own when it comes to migration and ensuring that the content remains available online.

Microsoft started to move or delete MSDN and TechNet content previously, and the company notes that the retirement of the TechNet Code Gallery is another step in the company’s plan to retire older content.

The following reasons are provided by Microsoft:

  • GitHub is a better place to host open source code and tools.
  • Social media and tech blogs have become the primary way for people to host and share tips and tools.
  • MSDN and TechNet content has already been migrated to the Microsoft Docs website.
  • Most content is not very popular anymore on the TechNet Gallery website.

Microsoft plans to delete all content in June 2020 and redirect the entire page to the Docs website. Content owners have until June 2020 to back up projects and migrate them to other services.

Closing Words

Microsoft’s purge attempts continue. We have linked to the TechNet Gallery several times throughout the years and it is sad to see such a resource go without backup. It is possible that the Internet Archive will pick up the scripts before Microsoft pulls the plug in June 2020. A quick check shows several popular downloads, many with over 100,000 downloads on the site.

Now You: Have you used resources in the past that Microsoft deleted or plans to delete?

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Microsoft Windows Security Updates March 2020 overview

Welcome to the overview for Microsoft’s March 2020 Patch Day; the company released security updates for all supported versions of Microsoft Windows as well as other company products.

The overview provides you with important information about released patches. It includes links to support articles and summaries of patches, links to security advisories, non-security updates, as well as direct download links for Windows updates.

Feel free to check out the February 2020 Patch Day overview here.

Microsoft Windows Security Updates March 2020

windows-security updates march 2020

You may download the following Excel spreadsheet to get a full tabular listing of patches and updates that Microsoft released on the March 2020 Patch Day. Click on the following link to download the Excel spreadsheet to your local system: microsoft-security-updates-windows-march-2020

Executive Summary

  • Microsoft released updates for all supported versions of the Windows operating system.
  • Updates were also released for Microsoft Edge (classic and new), Internet Explorer, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office, Windows Defender, Visual Studio, Azure, Azure DevOps, Microsoft Dynamics.
  • The Microsoft Update Catalog lists 113 patches.

Operating System Distribution

  • Windows 7  (extended support only):39 vulnerabilities: 3 critical and 36 important
  • Windows 8.1: 55 vulnerabilities: 3 rated critical and 52 rated important
  • Windows 10 version 1803: 71 vulnerabilities: 7 critical and 64 important
  • Windows 10 version 1809: 73 vulnerabilities: 7 critical and 66 important
    • same as Windows 10 version 1803
  • Windows 10 version 1903: 75 vulnerabilities: 7 critical and 68 important
    • same as Windows 10 version 1803
  • Windows 10 version 1909: same as Windows 10 version 1903

Windows Server products

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 (extended support only): 47 vulnerabilities, 5 critical, 42 important
  • Windows Server 2012 R2: 55 vulnerabilities: 3 critical and 52 important.
  • Windows Server 2016: 71 vulnerabilities: 6 critical and 65 important.
  • Windows Server 2019: 72 vulnerabilities: 7 critical and 65 are important
    • Same as Windows Server 2016 plus
    • CVE-2020-0807 | Media Foundation Memory Corruption Vulnerability

Other Microsoft Products

  • Internet Explorer 11: 6 vulnerability: 6 critical
  • Microsoft Edge:  14 vulnerabilities: 13 critical, 1 important
    • CVE-2020-0768 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0811 | Chakra Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0812 | Chakra Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0816 | Microsoft Edge Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0823 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0825 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0826 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0827 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0828 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0829 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0830 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0831 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
    • CVE-2020-0848 | Scripting Engine Memory Corruption Vulnerability
  • Microsoft Edge on Chromium:
    • see here (latest security patches from the Chromium project)

Windows Security Updates

Windows 7

Improvements and fixes:

  • Fixed an issue that might prevent icons and cursors from appearing as expected. (monthly-rollup only)
  • Security updates

Windows 8.1

Improvements and fixes:

  • Fixed an issue that might prevent ActiveX content from loading.
  • Fixed an issue that might prevent icons and cursors from appearing as expected.
  • Security updates

Windows 10 version 1803

Improvements and fixes:

  • Security updates

Windows 10 version 1809

  • Support article: support

Improvements and fixes:

  • Security updates

Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909

Improvements and fixes:

  • Fixed an issue that prevented some users from upgrading the operating system “because of corrupted third-party assemblies”.
  • Security updates.

Other security updates

KB4540671 — 2020-03 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer

KB4540694 — 2020-03 Security Only Quality Update for Windows Embedded 8 Standard and Windows Server 2012

KB4541504 — 2020-03 Security Only Quality Update for Windows Server 2008

KB4541506 — 2020-03 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows Server 2008

KB4541510 — 2020-03 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows Embedded 8 Standard and Windows Server 2012

KB4539571 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 Version 1809

KB4540670 — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Version 1607

KB4540681 — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1709

KB4540693 — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1507

KB4540705 — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1703

KB4540721 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 10 Version 1507

KB4540722 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 10 Version 1703

KB4540723 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Version 1607

KB4540724 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 10 Version 1803

KB4540725 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2

KB4540726 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Embedded 8 Standard and Windows Server 2012

KB4541338 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Server, version 1909, Windows 10 Version 1909, Windows Server, version 1903, and Windows 10 Version 1903

KB4541731 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 10 Version 1709

KB4550735 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2

KB4550736 — 2020-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows Server 2008

Known Issues

Windows 7

  • May receive “failure to configure Windows updates. Reverting Changes. Do not turn off your computer” if the update is installed on non-ESU systems.
  • Certain operations that are performed on files or folders on Cluster Shared Volumes may fail with the error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”.

Windows 8.1

  • Certain operations that are performed on files or folders on Cluster Shared Volumes may fail with the error “STATUS_BAD_IMPERSONATION_LEVEL (0xC00000A5)”.

Windows 10 version 1809

  • After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error, “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.”
    • Mitigation: uninstall and reinstall the language pack, then install the April 2019 Cumulative Update. If that does not help, Microsoft suggests Resetting the PC.
  • May encounter issues in Windows Server containers and 32-bit applications and process.

Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909

Security advisories and updates

Non-security related updates

KB890830 — Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool – March 2020

Microsoft Office Updates

You find Office update information here.

How to download and install the March 2020 security updates

Security updates for all supported version of Windows and products included in Windows, e.g. Microsoft Edge, are made available via Windows Update, WSUS, and other update distribution systems. Administrators may download standalone patches to systems to apply these directly without using Windows Updates.

We recommend that backups are created of important date or, better, the entire system, before patches are installed.

Do the following to check for new updates:

  1. Open the Start Menu of the Windows operating system, type Windows Update and select the result.
  2. Select check for updates in the application that opens. Updates may be installed automatically when they are found or offered by Windows; this depends on the operating system and version that is used, and update settings.

Direct update downloads

Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2

  • KB4540688 — 2020-03 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7
  • KB4541500 — 2020-03 Security Only Quality Update for Windows 7

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2

  • KB4541509 — 2020-03 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 8.1
  • KB4541505 — 2020-03 Security Only Quality Update for Windows 8.1

Windows 10 (version 1803)

  • KB4540689  — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1809

Windows 10 (version 1809)

  • KB4538461  — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1809

Windows 10 (version 1903)

  • KB4540673  — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1903

Windows 10 (version 1909)

  • KB4540673  — 2020-03 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1909

Additional resources

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Microsoft retires MCSA, MCSD and MCSE certifications

Microsoft will retire MCSA, MCSD and MCSE certifications on June 30, 2020 according to a new post by Alex Payne, GM, Global Technical Learning at Microsoft Worldwide Learning, on the Microsoft Learning Blog.

Microsoft shifted its focus to role-based training and certifications in September 2018 and has added 34 different certifications since then to its portfolio “across Azure, Modern Workplace, and Business Applications”.

Since Microsoft is now focusing on role-based training and certifications, it will retire all remaining Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications on June 30, 2020.

microsoft role-based certification path

MCSA, MCSD, MCSE certifications can still be achieved until June 30, 2020 and “nothing happens” to certifications that customers already have. Existing certifications that are retired on June 30, 2020 remain on a customer’s certification transcript for two years after the retirement date before they are moved to the inactive section of the transcript.

Microsoft notes that there won’t be any Windows Server 2019 or SQL Server 2019 certifications and that Server 2019 and SQL Server 2019 content will be included “in role-based certifications on an as-needed basis for certain job roles in Azure Apps & Infrastructure and Data & AI solution areas”.

The following Microsoft certification exams will be retired on June 30, 2020:

  • MCSA: BI Reporting
  • MCSA: Dynamics 365 for Operations
  • MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development
  • MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Admin
  • MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Dev
  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014
  • MCSA: Universal Windows Platform
  • MCSA: Web Applications
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2016
  • MCSD: App Builder
  • MCSE: Business Applications
  • MCSE: Core Infrastructure
  • MCSE: Data Management & Analytics
  • MCSE: Productivity

The following Microsoft exams will be retired on June 30, 2020:

  • 70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015
  • 70-334: Core Solutions for Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
  • 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
  • 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
  • 70-457: Developing Mobile Apps
  • 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
  • 70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012
  • 70-412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
  • 70-414: Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
  • 70-417: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012
  • 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
  • 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014 Databases
  • 70-463: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014
  • 70-464: Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014 Databases
  • 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server
  • 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server
  • 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server
  • 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3
  • 70-483: Programming in C#
  • 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications
  • 70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
  • 70-537: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack
  • 70-705: Designing and Providing Microsoft Licensing Solutions to Large Organizations
  • 70-740: Installation, Storage, and Compute with Windows Server 2016
  • 70-741: Networking with Windows Server 2016
  • 70-742: Identity with Windows Server 2016
  • 70-743: Upgrading Your skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016
  • 70-744: Securing Windows Server 2016
  • 70-745: Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter
  • 70-761: Querying Data with Transact-SQL
  • 70-762: Developing SQL Databases
  • 70-764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure
  • 70-765: Provisioning SQL Databases
  • 70-767: Implementing a Data Warehouse using SQL
  • 70-768: Developing SQL Data Models
  • 70-777: Implementing Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB Solutions
  • 70-778: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI
  • 70-779: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Excel
  • MB2-716: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration
  • MB6-894: Development, Extensions and Deployment for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance
  • MB6-897: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail
  • MB6-898: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Human Resources

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications will remain available.

Now You: are you affected by the change? (via Born)

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