Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ category

GDPR _ Microsoft’s Windows diagnostic data processor feature is GA

July 13th, 2021

Microsoft introduced a new capability in some of its products to help organizations ensure their compliance with data privacy regulations, in particular the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The “Windows diagnostic data processor configuration” became generally available this week, Microsoft announced, It’s enabled in certain Microsoft tools, namely “Desktop AnalyticsUpdate ComplianceMicrosoft Managed Desktop, and the Windows Update for Business deployment service,” .

Data Controller Oversight
Windows collects diagnostic information, and organizations have had rather non-transparent ways of limiting what gets collected. They can just select a pre-set data collection level. Microsoft’s current data collection levels include “Diagnostic Data Off” (previously called “Security”), “Required” (previously called “Basic”) and “Optional” (previously called “Full”). Organizations that use the Windows Update service to keep systems patched need to use the Required option. These nuances, and more, are described here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/privacy/configure-windows-diagnostic-data-in-your-organization#enable-windows-diagnostic-data-processor-configuration

Microsoft is positioning the Windows diagnostic data processor configuration capability, as being equivalent to having data controller oversight as required by the GDPR.

From the “Configure Windows Diagnostic Data” document:

The Windows diagnostic data processor configuration enables you to be the controller, as defined by the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for the Windows diagnostic data collected from your Windows devices that meet the configuration requirements.

According to a European Union glossary entry, “the data controller is the party that, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.” The glossary entry adds that “the actual processing may be delegated to another party, called the data processor.”

It seems that Windows diagnostic data processor configuration capability is mostly conceived as a means for organizations to become compliant with the GDPR with regard to their customers. It’s also an assurance about Microsoft’s data collection practices.

Now generally available, the Windows diagnostic data processor configuration further empowers you to manage your organization’s diagnostic data. It provides you familiar tools to support data subject rights, including managing, exporting, or deleting data stored securely in your Azure tenant. It also lets you benefit from our technology without compromise.

The capability also helps organizations to elete data should they get a customer request to do so, which is also a GDPR prerogative. The customer, in GDPR lingo, is known as the “data subject” in such cases.

Handling data subject requests happens though “the admin portal,” according to a note in this “Windows 10 and Privacy Compliance” document.

Prerequisites to Using Diagnostic Data Configuration
There are prerequisites to using the Windows diagnostic data processor configuration capability, which is just supported on devices using “Windows 10 Pro, Education or Enterprise editions, version 1809 with July 2021 update or newer.” In addition, the Windows devices “must be joined to Azure Active Directory.”

The Windows diagnostic data processor configuration capability just applies to data collection by Windows components. It doesn’t apply to the apps running on top of Windows, which have their own data collection practices.

Skype for Business Online retires on July 31, 2021 -time to migrate to TEAMS

July 8th, 2021

Skype for Business Online retires on July 31, 2021,

We recognize that customers have been working hard to complete their Skype for Business Online-to-Teams transitions by the retirement date. Some customers are going to face significant challenges to finish by July 31, 2021. We also understand the hurdles the past year has presented for organizations worldwide and the increased reliance on communication and collaboration platforms like Skype for Business Online and Teams to ensure business continuity.

Microsoft-assisted upgrades to Teams.. Read  guidance about Microsoft-assisted upgrades for information about what to expect.

After they’ve been scheduled for a Microsoft-assisted upgrade, Skype for Business Online customers will be able to request a three-month extension of the Skype for Business Online service to help address any remaining technical or organizational readiness issues. Customers can submit requests through the Teams admin center and can expect a response within three business days. Read the latest blog post to learn more.

.(he retirement of Skype for Business Online and corresponding assisted upgrades do not affect the Skype consumer service, Skype for Business Server products and Skype for Business Online operated by 21Vianet (China Sovereign Clouds Instance).)

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/upgrade-skype-teams

Synergy Microsoft Gold partnership

June 23rd, 2021

Our Microsoft Partner Network Gold competency membership has been confirmed again for the 15th time.

Natural remote hybrid meetings in Teams

June 22nd, 2021

With office environments becoming increasingly “hybrid” post-pandemic, Microsoft is readying multiple improvements to its software to facilitate remote meetings.

Specifically, the company announced coming perks for users of the Microsoft Teams collaboration service, as well as Microsoft Viva, Microsoft’s relatively new “employee experience platform.”

Software improvements also are coming for Microsoft Whiteboard, a screen app used for collaboratively sketching ideas during meetings. Emerging Microsoft 365 “fluid components,” used to facilitate collaborations on the fly in applications, also are coming.

More Natural Remote Meetings
Microsoft’s meetings enhancements support the current work-from-home trend, dubbed “hybrid work,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in the announcement suggested that Microsoft’s solutions bring organizations “a new operating model for people, places and process.”

The future improvements announced on Thursday aim to make remote meetings seem more natural. Microsoft concluded from its research findings that offering “a good view of the in-room participants” to remote viewers and “normalizing the sizes of people’s remote video feeds” would make remote meetings seem less fatiguing to viewers.

Fluid Components Expansion
Microsoft had introduced a preview of fluid components for Microsoft Teams in its May 2021 Build event. Fluid components enable messaging from software components, such as action items, lists or tables, when using the Teams service. Microsoft’s Thursday announcement explained that fluid components also are now coming to “OneNote, Outlook and Whiteboard to make it easier to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously across Teams and Office apps.” The exact timing when these fluid components will be integrated, though, not yet announced.

Fluid components are new Microsoft 365 solutions built on the Microsoft Fluid Framework, a Web-based “componentized document model for shared, interactive experiences” that was first introduced at the 2019 Microsoft Build event. These fluid components will are expected come to the Microsoft Teams and Whiteboard applications sometime this summer,

Front Row View in Teams Rooms
A major improvement for enhancing remote meeting experiences is its new “front row” feature for Teams Rooms.

With the front row feature, remote meeting participants appear in a row at the bottom of a screen, which is supposed to be at the same eye level as would be experienced if they had actually been seated in a meeting room. The top of the screen can then be used to display presentation materials. There’s also screen room on the sides to display other materials, such as a meeting agenda and a chat window.

The new front row feature “will be supported across both single and dual display configurations,” Microsoft explained in a Teams Rooms announcement. It’s expected to arrive “over the course of this year.”

New Whiteboard App
The Microsoft Whiteboard application, which lets people draw diagrams collaboratively using digital inking, is now described as being “completely new.” It has a new “Fluent toolbar” and improved inking capabilities when using a mouse. Drawn shapes get automatically straightened with a “shape recognition” capability.

The new Whiteboard app has various collaboration improvements. “Collaboration cursors” appear to identify people working together on a whiteboard. Microsoft added a laser pointer tool. It also added a “follow along” feature and new templates.

Azure Virtual Desktop

June 10th, 2021

Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service is now called “Azure Virtual Desktop,” or AVD, to indicate that it is intended to be “a flexible cloud VDI platform for nearly any use case — accessible from virtually anywhere.

Windows Virtual Desktop, commercially launched in September 2019, to let organizations remotely access true Windows 10 and Windows 7 desktops, as well as applications, which are hosted in virtual machines on Azure datacenters. This virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) approach brings the benefits of centralized management and the option to use thin-client devices. It was both complex to set it up, with the added ae complexities of overseeing Azure hosting costs.

The added flexibility and the AVD name change hints that Windows may not be the only operating system hosted.

In addition to the name change, the announcement described some new capabilities coming to the AVD service, mostly at the preview stage. Microsoft plans to further discuss some of these in a June 18 Web presentation.

One of the enhancements is a new per-user AVD pricing option for organizations, which will be available starting on Jan. 1, 2022. With this option, organizations can offer streaming applications to their external “customers and business partners” something that independent software vendors might want to do.

The cost on Jan. 1, 2022 for this per-user option will be $5.50 per user per month, or $10 per user per month if organizations also want to include the use of the desktop OS. Also, there will be Azure hosting costs to pay.

A no-cost promotional offering of this per-user AVD service for external users will be available from July 14, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021, the announcement indicated.

Internet Explorer 11 browser, support end next year for some Windows 10 editions.

May 27th, 2021

Microsoft announced last week that IE 11 will hit its end on June 15, 2022 for Windows 10 versions 20H2 and later, as well as on Windows 10 IoT versions 20H2 and later. The browser won’t be removed by Microsoft, but no updates or security patches will arrive after that date, making it potentially insecure. Moreover, the IE 11 browser on those Windows 10 versions will “redirect to Microsoft Edge” after the June deadline, according to Microsoft’s FAQ.

Even before the June 15, 2022 deadline for IE 11 on those Windows 10 versions, organizations and individuals will lose IE 11 support when the browser gets used with “Microsoft 365 and other apps.” Issues will start to appear on Aug. 17, 2021, according to this Microsoft timeline:

[Click on image for larger view.]Desktop IE 11 end-of-support timeline for Windows 10 versions 20H2 and later. (Source: Microsoft’s “Windows experience” blog)

IE 11 End-of-Support for Other Windows Versions
The general rule of thumb for IE’s product lifecycle has been that that its support was tied to the underlying Windows lifecycle. Microsoft appears to be sticking with that theme.

For instance, the June 15, 2022 end-of-support date for IE 11 does not apply to the following Windows products:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU)
  • Windows 10 Server SAC (all versions)
  • Windows 10 IoT Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) (all versions)
  • Windows 10 Server LTSC (all versions)
  • Windows 10 client LTSC (all versions)

Users of those Windows operating systems can continue to use IE 11 until the OSes fall out of support. For both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 ESU users, Windows end of support will occur on Jan. 10, 2023. Windows LTSC users will lose OS support on Jan. 9, 2029.

Switch to Edge or Another Browser
Organizations and individual are being encouraged by Microsoft to switch to the Microsoft Edge browser before IE 11’s end date.

The Chromium-based Edge browser is said to provide a so-called “modern browser” experience, while also enabling IE Mode for backward capability. IE Mode emulates IE behaviors within Edge and can support Web apps that are still dependent on the older technologies, Microsoft contends.

If app compatibility issues remain when using Edge with IE Mode, Microsoft offers its App Assure service to resolve the issues. The App Assure service is free, but just for organizations with 150 or more licenses (Windows 10 or Microsoft 365).

Microsoft is actually aware that organizations are still dependent on Web apps that use older IE technologies. The announcement cited a Forrester Consulting survey that found “enterprises have 1,678 legacy apps on average.”

IE Mode will be supported in Edge “through at least 2029,” the announcement indicated. Microsoft’s Trident engine in IE 11, called “MSHTML,” will continue to be supported through that same period as it is part of IE Mode.

According to Microsoft’s FAQ, there won’t be any support exceptions offered when IE 11 reaches its end of life. Microsoft is planning to give a one-year advance notice of the browser’s end.

Internet Explorer 11, the final version of Microsoft’s venerable Internet browser, will fall out of support next year for select Windows 10 editions.

Microsoft announced last week that IE 11 will hit its end on June 15, 2022 for Windows 10 versions 20H2 and later, as well as on Windows 10 IoT versions 20H2 and later. The browser will not be removed by Microsoft, but no updates or security patches will arrive after that date, making it potentially insecure. Moreover, the IE 11 browser on those Windows 10 versions will “redirect to Microsoft Edge” after the June deadline, according to Microsoft’s FAQ.

Even before the June 15, 2022 deadline for IE 11 on those Windows 10 versions, organizations and individuals will lose IE 11 support when the browser gets used with “Microsoft 365 and other apps.” Issues will start to appear on Aug. 17, 2021, according to this Microsoft timeline:

Desktop IE 11 end-of-support timeline for Windows 10 versions 20H2 and later. (Source: Microsoft’s “Windows experience” blog)

IE 11 End-of-Support for Other Windows Versions
The general rule of thumb for IE’s product lifecycle has been that that its support was tied to the underlying Windows lifecycle. Microsoft appears to be sticking with that theme.

For instance, the June 15, 2022 end-of-support date for IE 11 does not apply to the following Windows products:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU)
  • Windows 10 Server SAC (all versions)
  • Windows 10 IoT Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) (all versions)
  • Windows 10 Server LTSC (all versions)
  • Windows 10 client LTSC (all versions)

Users of those Windows operating systems can continue to use IE 11 until the OSes fall out of support. For both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 ESU users, Windows end of support will occur on Jan. 10, 2023. Windows LTSC users will lose OS support on Jan. 9, 2029.

Switch to Edge or Another Browser
Organizations and individual are being encouraged by Microsoft to switch to the Microsoft Edge browser before IE 11’s end date.

The Chromium-based Edge browser is said to provide a so-called “modern browser” experience, while also enabling IE Mode for backward capability. IE Mode emulates IE behaviors within Edge and can support Web apps that are still dependent on the older technologies, Microsoft contends.

If app compatibility issues remain when using Edge with IE Mode, then Microsoft offers its App Assure service to resolve the issues. The App Assure service is free, but just for organizations with 150 or more licenses (Windows 10 or Microsoft 365).

Microsoft is aware that organizations are still dependent on Web apps that use older IE technologies. The announcement cited a Forrester Consulting survey that found “enterprises have 1,678 legacy apps on average.”

IE Mode will be supported in Edge “through at least 2029,” the announcement indicated. Microsoft’s Trident engine in IE 11, called “MSHTML,” will continue to be supported through that same period as it is part of IE Mode.

According to Microsoft’s FAQ, there won’t be any support exceptions offered when IE 11 reaches its end of life. Microsoft is planning to give a one-year advance notice of the browser’s end.

10 X Faster Reports on SQL! Run Time from 30 Mins to 3 Mins! Ask Synergy Software Systems

April 27th, 2021

The performance degradation of applications running on Windows, and VMs is getting inherently worse. This includes latency issues, queries or reports timing out, crashes, missed SLAs, back office batch jobs bleeding over into production hours, and the litany of “shadow IT” problems that wreak havoc.

Even after migrating to a brand-new flash array, performance problems return because the root source of the problem still exists. The fact is, 30-40% of performance is being robbed by small, fractured, random I/O being generated due to operating system I/O inefficiencies. This is a software problem that is solved by our software.

DymaxIO™ fast data software will quickly:

  • Increase performance automatically – no tuning required. Simply install and watch performance problems disappear.
  • Optimizes writes so maximum payload is carried with every I/O operation.
  • Speed up I/O intensive applications like MS-SQL/Oracle, CRM, ERP, File Servers, Imaging, Web Servers, Backups, VDI.

Install our software on your most troublesome servers and see 30-50% or more of the noisy, garbage I/O offloaded and performance dramatically improved.

Microsoft’s April 2021 Patch Tuesday

April 17th, 2021

Update Tuesday is a monthly cycle when Microsoft releases patches for vulnerabilities . As a best practice, Micorosft encourage customers you to turn on automatic updates.

Security hygiene and patch management are as important as ever as to protect from both sophisticated and common cybercriminal activity. Customers should ensure they are on the latest version of software with current security updates. . It is common for attackers to shift their efforts to exploit recently disclosed vulnerabilities before the latest updates or patches are installed, which is why it is so important that customers migrate to the latest supported software.

This month’s release includes a number of critical vulnerabilities to prioritize, including updates to protect against new vulnerabilities in on-premise Exchange Servers. Given the recent focus on Exchange vulnerabilities, we recommend customers install the updates as soon as possible to ensure they remain protected. Customers using Exchange Online are already protected and do not need to take any action.

More details on all of this month’s updates can be found in the Security Update Guide.. More information on best practice can be found in the following resources:

Business Central Wave 1 – now even better Ask Synergy Software Systems

April 15th, 2021

A recent Microsoft-commissioned IDC survey of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) across the globe, 60 percent of leaders indicated that 2021 will be spent on pivoting and focusing on recovery. They  stated that their top three business challenges are to increase their: business agility, productivity, and revenue.

A modern business management solution can help SMBs address these challenges. SMBs leaders struggle to find the time to create a digital transformation strategy. That’s where we can help.

Dynamics 365 Business Central helps SMBs to adapt faster, work smarter, and perform better

Dynamics 365 Business Central provides a connected, cloud hosted, business management solution for growing small and midmarket organizations.

Connected means that you bring together your finance, sales, service, and operations teams within a single application.  Reduce the costs of licensing and training in multiple systems and the challenges of integration reporting and data consistency.

Get the real time insights needed to drive your business forward and to adapt to rapidly changing business models :

  • Adapt faster—have a flexible platform to adopt technological change, and to adapt to economic and statutory changes with the insights needed to pivot quickly, shift business models, and cultivate strategic plans.
  • Work smarter—Stop app switching and boost productivity using interoperability with Microsoft Teams, Excel, Word, and Outlook.
  • Perform better—Enable better business performance with continuous process improvements, real-time insights, and responsiveness across your entire business—not just financials.

Adapt faster: Onboarding guidance

Pivoting quickly is only possible when you can get everyone across your company to adopt new business apps, processes, and models. To reach go-live is critical for all new business management solutions, but time to productivity for your people is the better measurement of success. The 2021 release wave 1 of Dynamics 365 Business Central, includes ‘getting started checklist’s, a welcome banner, and in-app contextual help with teaching tips to ensure your people can onboard and deliver results faster.

Work smarter: Better together on the Microsoft cloud

Microsoft is the only company that provides productivity, collaboration, development, AI, business intelligence, and business applications all within a single cloud. The result goes beyond the ability to support remote work, improve security, and control costs. By connecting Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Power Platform you empower your organization to be more collaborative, more productive, and more impactful.

In the 2021 release wave 1, there is  improved interoperability with Microsoft Teams, Word, and Excel, along with enabling integration between Dynamics 365 Business Central virtual tables into Microsoft Dataverse solutions.

Additionally, there is now support for Universal Print to streamline the way companies manage printing from Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Perform better: Improved dimensions and expansion to more geographies

To optimize financial performance and drive continuous business process improvements the 2021 wave 1 release supports global expansion, with Dynamics 365 Business Central now also available in India, Greece, Romania, and Turkey.

Working with dimensions and general ledger entry corrections is enhanced. Ensure consistent and accurate dimension value attributes on operational and financial transactions and spend less time on corrections, close month end faster, with fewer audit queries, and clearer insights from your business data.

Learn more

This is just a glimpse of the latest innovations for Dynamics 365 Business Central. There are many other recent enhancements across banking, payments, performance, supply chain optimization, and usability.

To start your digital transformation with Microsoft Dynamics Business Central call Synergy Software Systems 0091743365589

Critical Windows fix

February 14th, 2021

A critical flaw was discovered in Windows 10 that could allow hackers to unleash a devastating attack on PCs and render the devices useless. Customers who have automatic updates enabled are automatically protected from these vulnerabilities.

Last week Microsoft released a set of fixes affecting Windows TCP/IP implementation that include two Critical Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities (CVE-2021-24074, CVE-2021-24094) and an Important Denial of Service (DoS) vulnerability (CVE-2021-24086). The two RCE vulnerabilities are complex which make it difficult to create functional exploits, so they are not likely in the short term. We believe attackers will be able to create DoS exploits much more quickly and expect all three issues might be exploited with a DoS attack shortly after release. Thus, we recommend customers move quickly to apply Windows security updates this month.

The DoS exploits for these CVEs would allow a remote attacker to cause a stop error. Customers might receive a blue screen on any Windows system that is directly exposed to the internet with minimal network traffic.

It is essential that customers apply Windows updates to address these vulnerabilities as soon as possible. If applying the update quickly is not practical, workarounds are detailed in the CVEs that do not require restarting a server. These three vulnerabilities are unique and require separate workarounds depending on the exposure of an affected system; however, they can be thought of in terms of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) solutions.

The IPv4 workaround simply requires further hardening against the use of Source Routing, which is disallowed in Windows default state. This workaround is documented in CVE-2021-24074 and can be applied through Group Policy or by running a NETSH command that does not require a reboot. The IPv6 workarounds are documented in CVE-2021-24094 and CVE-2021-24086, and require blocking IPv6 fragments, which may negatively impact services with dependencies on IPv6.

It is important that affected systems are patched as quickly as possible because of the elevated risk associated with these vulnerabilities, and downloads for these can be found in the Microsoft Security Update Guide.