Windows 10 updates are certainly the focus here • The Registry

Microsoft is rolling out the only feature updates to Windows 10 this year, with the IT giant describing it as a “broad and streamlined” effort with a heavy focus on security.

The updates for Windows 10 version 22H2 — the venerable operating system’s 13th feature update — came on the same day that Microsoft announced the availability of new features for Windows 11, which were outlined when it unveiled version 22H2 of the operating system last month.

Expect continued support for Windows 10 through 2025 – see timeline here – but also plan for the limited scope of these new features, with security being the driving theme. Microsoft will continue to make sure users can continue to use the operating system safely, but don’t expect a lot of effort for squishy bells and whistles.

“Based on customer feedback, we are offering a limited set of new features and functionality delivered through a familiar, fast, and reliable update experience,” John Cable, vice president of program management for Windows maintenance and deployment, wrote in a blog post yesterday .

“Version 22H2 will continue the recent trend of Windows 10 feature updates to be delivered in a streamlined manner using servicing technology.

“Windows 10, version 22H2 is an area-aware release focused on quality improvements across the Windows experience in existing functional areas such as quality, productivity, and security.”

Aside from these wide variations, there wasn’t much technical detail about the features. The deepest sense of the future came from Rick Munck, cloud solutions architect for security at Microsoft. The security changes made in Windows 10 aim to increase protection in terms of driver security, credential theft, printers, and account lockout.

First, Microsoft enables the Local Security Authority (LSA) – a feature first introduced with Windows 8.1 and designed to validate users when logging on locally or remotely and enforce local security policies. This will now run as a protected process, which will strengthen defenses against credential theft, Munck outlined.

To reduce an organization’s attack surface, there will now be a rule blocking abuse of vulnerable signed drivers as a standard part of Microsoft Defender Antivirus Group Policy. This is expected to “apply to both clients and servers and prevent an application from writing a vulnerable signed driver to disk,” the cloud architect said.

An added policy allows admins to lock out an account to thwart brute force authentication attempts. In addition, the 22H2 also corrected a discrepancy between what is stated in the security baseline documentation and the accompanying group policy settings for Microsoft Defender Antivirus.

Printer security was a focus, including support for RedirectionGuard – which prevents the use of redirection primitives not created by an administrator from being obeyed – for the print service and enabling the CopyFilesPolicy for managing the processing of queue-specific files with the Option to restrict such files to color profiles.

In addition, the ability to allow only administrators to install printer drivers is built into the operating system.

Systems running Windows 10 versions 21H1, 21H2, and 20H2 — which share the same core system files with 22H2 — will receive the update as an enablement package, but as an optional update, it won’t automatically install. Instead, it is the company’s or user’s responsibility to install it manually via Windows Update.

The systems running older versions of Windows 10 will get the May 2021 update first because they can install this year’s update.

Version 22H2 Enterprise and Education users get 30 months of service, while Home and Pro users get 18 months.

This week, with Windows 11 version 22H2, you can expect File Explorer tabs to organize and switch between files more easily, as well as suggested actions in Windows. For example, according to Shilpa Ranganathan, corporate vice president for Windows, the operating system can highlight phone numbers or future dates in text so they can be easily clicked and called using Phone Link, Teams or Skype.

Additionally, users can pin more apps to the taskbar than there is room for, allowing all the apps that are overflowing to appear in one place, and right-clicking on the taskbar gives them the option to go straight to Task change manager.

Also this week, Microsoft released out-of-band (OOB) updates to fix a connectivity issue between Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) in a number of versions of Windows.

“For developers, it is likely that affected connections will receive one or more records followed by a partial record less than 5 bytes in size within a single input buffer,” Microsoft wrote in a support note. “If the connection fails, your app will receive the error ‘SEC_E_ILLEGAL_MESSAGE’.”

Update KB5020387 (OS Build 22000.1100) addresses Windows 11 systems, while KB5020435 (OS Builds 19042.2132, 19043.2132 and 19044.2132) applies to Windows 10 versions 20H2, 21H1, 21H2, 22H1 and 22H2.

Microsoft rarely releases OOB patches that are released outside of normal in-sequence updates or patch day rollouts. ® Windows 10 updates are certainly the focus here • The Registry

Rick Schindler

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