In this issue:
Our readers educate us about managing firmware! PC shipments down but costs are up? More issues with Win11 22H2. Free virtual event from SC Media. Updated product release: GFI KerioControl. Some virtualization tips. Free Email Assessment tool. Eaten by a Grue. Incredible car stunts. Prepare for the upcoming War With The Robots! Plus lots more — read it all, read it here on WServerNews!
The universe continues to expand after the Big Bang. And the amount of knowledge IT professionals like ourselves need to master to do our job is expanding even faster! Photo by Taton Moïse on Unsplash
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In last week’s newsletter Without the user’s consent I mentioned that I had noticed that Windows Update was updating the BIOS on a Dell PC that is one of the unmanaged Windows 10 machines I use at home. I said also that this was actually the first time I’d ever seen Windows download and install new firmware from Windows Update, and that usually I’m shy about upgrading a system BIOS unless there’s some seriously important reason for doing so, and as a result I only perform BIOS updates manually when I feel they’re needed.
This story on my part generated lots of feedback from our readers and I’m sharing some of it below to help other readers who might be concerned about WU doing this kind of or how to handle BIOS/UEFI/EFI updates in general. Let’s begin with this comment from Jerry Lackey, a Network Engineer and Owner of GSL Network Consulting based in new Mexico, USA:
Mitch, In answer to your Windows 10 reboot BIOS update shock. The majority of my deployed systems are Dell computers. They come with a really handy tool call Dell Command Update. You can schedule this tool to download and install the latest Dell drivers, Dell patches and Dell BIOS updates. I am of the same opinion as you- I want to be in charge of what gets installed on my computers. I install DCU (latest version is 4.6) on all of my computers making sure to deselect the option to automatically download the updates. The other thing I do (and this is more of a security measure) is to enable the Admin Access Password in the systems BIOS when setting it up. This prevents anyone from changing the BIOS settings AND will stop Microsoft from installing a BIOS update (if that actually was the case here) as they will not have sufficient privileges to do the update. When you do a manual DCU update and want to update the BIOS there is a gear icon in the upper right corner that allows you to input the BIOS password (scroll down on the left side till you see BIOS) so it can be installed by DCU. I couldn’t feel your frustration more my friend! I hope that this helps and/or I’m not telling you something you already knew.
…Excellent advice and thank you! Our next comment comes from Riann Cornelissen who is an ICT Manager:
In response to your “pleasant” surprise. I’ve seen this a bunch of times. Seems to primarily target notebooks. Dell / HP. I haven’t noticed it on desktop systems. First time was a WOW moment as well. But since then it’s part of our everyday OOBE when getting updates applied for new systems to go into production. I agree BIOS/Firmware updates should be at least applied after sufficient info has been supplied, but having this rather than to rely on the human factor to check and apply. Lesser of two evils? Luckily we haven’t had any foul up’s.
…Fingers crossed that continues! Wayne Hanks from Perth, Australia also isn’t too worried about WU doing this:
I regularly build new machines for clients and one of the tasks on my check list is to run all updates. There are a number of manufacturers that are now using Windows update to push Bios updates, and I have never had an issue with any of them. Back in the bad old days when power supplies could be flaky, bios updates were a gamble but now they seem to be routine.
…Am I then too overcautious? Not necessarily according to the following story sent to us by reader Steve Weisner:
Hi Mitch, after seeing your editorial about the Dell firmware update that was delivered via Windows Update, I decided to relay my recent similar experience to you. I have a brand new Dell laptop running Windows 11 Home. During the initial setup, it worked through the expected cycles of boot/WindowsUpdate/rinse/repeat that you always see on a new system that also has MS-Office and the pre-installed software that I had no interest in acquiring. During one of the reboots, I too was surprised to see the firmware being updated. Things got worse when it refused to boot until I provided a BitLocker key. In almost 40 years of IT experience, I have never managed to render a system unbootable in the first two hours after taking it out of the box!
I hadn’t turned on BitLocker myself and I hadn’t even gotten to the point where I had the option of setting up or recording the key or even really using the laptop. After settling my heart rate down and doing some reading online, I learned that by default it had been automatically recorded for me in the Microsoft account that I was forced to use while setting up the laptop. (I would have preferred to just use a local account, but that’s a different beef for a different day.) I was able to access the key and use it to resume normal operation.
Dell’s website (https://dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-ca/000134415/updating-the-bios-on-dell-systems-with-bitlocker-enabled) recommends temporarily suspending BitLocker before updating the BIOS. The instructions provided are not accurate for Windows 11 Home and I am not looking forward to the next time I have the pleasure of this experience. I haven’t decided who I am more angry with about this – Dell or Microsoft – but I do know that my system is still under Dell’s support/warranty so I’ll be contacting them about this soon in the hopes of preventing future drama. I have a very low expectation of a satisfactory resolution but I’m hoping they will surprise me.
Maybe this is all normal (I’ve never used BitLocker before), but it was not a pleasant out-of-the box experience. It feels to me like the risk of leaving my drive encrypted is higher than the risk of changing my drive to be permanently unencrypted.
…Well now I feel partly vindicated at least. We’ll end with the following comment I received from reader Robert Tate:
Mitch, I am surprised that you have not seen BIOS updates offered via Windows Update previously. Perhaps, the difference is whether they are being installed by default or offered as optional updates. I have seen BIOS updates offered for some ASUS laptops for I think 3 to 4 years. The newest ASUS motherboard I have has also been offered BIOS updates in the past few months. All of the ASUS examples I can remember were offered as optional updates, and they only offered after they had been available from the ASUS website for a period of time. Our practice is to keep our devices up to date with BIOS/Firmware with security being the primary consideration.
…I guess I should feel thoroughly chastened, but the reality is there’s just too much to know about these days for a simple IT pro like myself. Anyways, if any other readers have comments or suggestions they’d like to offer on this important subject, email me and we’ll include your feedback in the Mailbag section of our next newsletter. And feel free to email us your comments or questions about anything else you reader in this week’s newsletter.
This Week in IT
A compendium of recent IT industry news compiled by Your Editors. Feel free to email us if you find a news item you think our newsletter readers might be interested in. And for more tech news coverage see the News section of our TechGenix website.
A few news items that crossed our radar this week have triggered alerts to focus our attention.
Research by IDC indicates that worldwide PC shipments declined another 15% in the third quarter of this year. On the other hand the price of new PCs is trending upwards and ZDNet reports that Gartner thinks this may continue.
TechGenix informs us that the reason some German regions have recently banned Microsoft 365 is because the platform violates GDPR rules. And along similar lines The Hacker News reports that French data protection regulators have declared that using Google Analytics violates GDPR as well.
A newly-discovered cross-platform malware called Chaos is said by Ars Technica to be infecting Windows PCs, Linux systems, FreeBSD boxes, enterprise services and small office routers. As a completely irrelevant aside, there’s an enjoyable action film called Chaos starring Jason Statham, Ryan Phillipe and Wesley Snipes that involves Chaos Theory as part of the plot. Butterflies love that movie, so some of our readers might enjoy it too (lol).
And if you sometimes leave your phone in a drawer for long periods of time when you feel a need to de-stress by disconnecting from AOL (always-on life) then you should read this article on Phone Arena. Yikes!
More Windows news items to keep abreast of our expanding IT knowledge universe:
Known issue: Provisioning packages don’t work on Windows 11 2022 Update (Intune Customer Success)
Windows 11 22H2: Microsoft investigates RDP issues (Günter Born)
Get ready (and get MDT ready) to deploy Windows 11 22H2 (Out Of Office Hours)
Upcoming webcasts, workshops and conferences
Got an event, conference or webcast you want announced in our newsletter? Email us!
October 25-26 – The Cloud and Your Workforce: Winning the great cloud migration – A free virtual event from SC Media – Save my seat!
Also be sure to check out the following event listings:
- Redmond Channel Partner’s calendar of upcoming Microsoft conferences for partners, IT pros and developers.
- TechRepublic’s 2022 tech conferences and events to add to your calendar.
- FOSS Force’s list of upcoming Open Source Events.
Got comments about anything in this issue?
Email us! We love hearing from our readers!
Meet the Editors!
MITCH TULLOCH is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies. He has written more than a thousand articles and has authored or been series editor for over 50 books for Microsoft Press and other publishers. Mitch has also been a twelve-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in the technical category of Cloud and Datacenter Management. He currently runs an IT content development business in Winnipeg, Canada that produces books, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, courseware, documentation, newsletters and articles for various companies.
INGRID TULLOCH is Associate Editor of WServerNews. She was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press and collaborated on developing university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program. Ingrid also manages Research and Development for the IT content development business she runs together with Mitch.
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IT Workshop – tools, guides and useful stuff
Got a product or solution or some other resource you’d like to tell our readers about? Email us!
Our TOOL OF THE WEEK is GFI KerioControl a next-generation firewall and unified threat management product from GFI Software for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are looking for a comprehensive solution for their security needs. The updated product release 9.4.2 has an updated IPSec VPN and enhanced Mac upload speed.
Searching for emails containing important business information, especially during an audit, is a headache. That’s why email archiving is so important for your business. Learn more about email archiving in this article on TechGenix.
Webinar on IPv6 Security — requires free subscription from IP Space
Need detailed hardware info about a Linux system? Learn about CPU-X from It’s FOSS.
Tips and Tutorials
Got tips or tutorials you’d like to recommend for our readers? Email us!
This week we include some tips on various virtualization solutions:
Why are so many VMware customers still on vSphere 6.5 & 6.7? (Welcome to vSphere land!)
How To Create Ubuntu Virtual Machines the Easy Way (ITPro Today)
Getting started with Windows 365 Enterprise using a custom image (Peter van der Woude)
Azure Update Management Center (Charbel Nemnom)
Measuring Your Hyper-V VMs Resource Health (TechGenix)
Adding Drivers into VMWare ESXi Installation Image (Windows OS Hub)
Recovering a Deleted VMFS Datastore on VMware ESXi/vSphere (Windows OS Hub)
Got a freebie you want to offer our readers? You can reach almost 200,000 IT pros worldwide with our newsletter—email us!
8 Steps to Better Security: A Simple Cyber Resilience Guide for Business – FREE for a Limited Time from The Hacker News
Free Email Assessment tool from InQuest
How to get Windows free (or at least cheap) – from Tom’s Hardware
Factoid: Eaten by a Grue
Our previous factoid was this:
Fact: Burn Pictures On A CD-R, No Special Drive Needed
Question: How many of you still have a CD reader/writer in your PC and still *use* it?
Eddie Schenk responded to this one with:
Yes I still use a DVD/CD burner in all my PCs/Laptops, in fact the new SOTA one I built recently had the case swapped to allow for a 5.25 DVD burner.
When I asked Eddie what he would use the DVD burner for, he replied:
I normally use it to burn ISOs for OS installs, to rip CDs and sometime to send pictures/files out to less tech savvy people 🙂
How thoughtful 🙂
Now let’s move on to this week’s factoid:
Fact: “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.”
Question: Do any of our readers remember playing Zork? Any fond (or frustrated) memories to share?
Email us your answer and we’ll include it in our next issue!
Fun videos from Flixxy
Lada Stunt Team – Incredible car stunts by Lada in 2009, including driving on 2 wheels while changing the other 2 tires.
Fast Paced Rally Action – Ott Tänak’s fast paced rally action at the Rally of Poland.
Wingsuit Base Jump – Walensee Switzerland – Footage from ‘The Crack’ – the famous jumping spot in the Swiss Alps. The breathtaking views make it such a spectacular jump.
World’s Most Amazing Skills And Talent – It is truly amazing to see what people are capable of.
The odd, the stupid and the remarkable. Good for your mental health.
Jamie Dimon Slams Crypto Tokens as ‘Decentralized Ponzi Schemes’ (Bloomberg)
[You mean like Wall Street?]
‘I’d rather eat an actual burger’: why plant-based meat’s sizzle fizzled in the US (The Guardian)
[This was entirely predictable, plant-based meat could only be a fad. What about meat-based veggies, though? That could be the *next big thing*. Buy stock TODAY!!!]
NASA’s Mars Helicopter Snags Mysterious Foreign Object on 33rd Flight (Extreme Tech)
[Why does NASA think they have to acronymize bloody everything? IMO they’re just a BOGSAT who think they’re BFFLTDDUP and I’m BMGWL when I think about it.]
In the Battle With Robots, Human Workers Are Winning (San Francisco Examiner)
[We humans will certainly win the upcoming War With The Robots. But the real question is, What will be left of our world afterwards?]
Hey reader! Got an amazing or weird or funny link you’d like to suggest for this section of our newsletter? Email us! But please make sure that it’s G-rated as in “Gee whiz”, “Golly!”, “Good grief!”, “Gaaahh!!” and so on. Thanks!
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