Windows 10 May 2019 Update declared safe at last, which bodes well for upcoming 19H2 build

Also: Azure, SQL Server and keeping the Windows 2008 R2 lights on

Roundup As the faithful attempted to stir up excitement for this week's hardware event, Microsoft has continued its efforts to ship the next version of Windows while also flinging out updates for Azure and SQL Server.

Windows 10 May 2019 Update certified fresh by Microsoft

There's some good news for customers tempted to make the leap to Microsoft's latest public release of Windows 10. The team has declared it "ready for broad deployment" while highlighting that the April 2018 Update (aka 1803) is now very much old and busted in comparison.

1803 hits end of service on 12 November and Microsoft is updating devices running that version (as well as earlier incarnations of Windows 10).

The recommendation is aimed at commercial customers. Those brave enough to have updated ahead of time have shaken a bunch of bugs out (and endured occasionally iffy patches) since the release hit.

19H2 looms as admins get access to pre-release Windows 10

A new build of 1909, aka 19H2, has also been dropped into the Release Preview Ring of the Windows Insider programme. With Windows 10 19H2 likely to be publicly released in October, build 18363.387 was a light refresh, containing some mystery fixes and tweaks for uninstalling 19H2 updates.

19H1 build 18362.387, which is also lurking in the Release Preview Ring, hit last week.

The update comes as Microsoft decided that it would be a good idea to let admins inflict pre-release Windows 10 feature updates on their users via the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS).

It's a little surprising that it has taken this long to implement, since one of the benefits of the Windows Insider programme is early access to Windows 10 for the purpose of checking out line-of-business apps on the new OS as well as ensuring that nothing critical has been broken.

Such access was a tad manual for admins in the past, so the addition of the Windows Insider Pre-Release in the Configuration Manager will be welcome, although the software giant warned that version 1906 or later of the Configuration Manager must be used. Users will also be relieved to learn that only the Slow Ring of the Windows Insider programme will be available.

By making it easier for admins to deploy Windows Insider builds, the range of systems on which Windows 10 is being tested should increase, which in turn should improve quality.

Following Windows 10 1909, the gang aims to match the cadence of the Slow Ring for releases.

Windows Server holdouts get new Microsoft Defender capabilities

Although Windows Server 2008 R2 is gazing nervously at 2020's end-of-support date, Microsoft has made the Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) capability of Microsoft Defender ATP generally available for the venerable platform.

The addition provides better visibility into what is happening on server endpoints, giving insight into nefarious tinkerings around processes, files and other favoured targets.

The move is a recognition that there remain a heck of a lot of Windows Server 2008 R2 installs out there.

As well as Windows Server 2008 R2 getting EDR, the gang is also integrating the Azure Security Center into the platform. And don't forget – Microsoft would really like you to consider migrating to Azure.

SQL Server Management Studio updated

While Azure Data Studio may be the favoured child these days, the venerable SQL Server Management Studio has continued to receive attention, with version 18.3 emitted last week.

The release was light on new features, although it did add Intellisense support for SQL Server 2019. There were also minor improvements around scripting, including Azure Data Warehouse constraints and tweaks to the SQL Assessment API.

Bug fixes included a problem in DacFx that prevented database deployment to SQL Azure as well as longstanding issues that caused the Management Studio to hang during restores.

Another abiding user whinge, the missing T-SQL debugger, has yet to make an appearance despite riding high in the wish list.

Microsoft – protecting democracy with open source. Wait, what?

Keen to remind customers that it was still needling the US government over privacy last week, Microsoft also made good on its promise to upload the code for its ElectionGuard electronic vote system to GitHub.

The resources are spread over four GitHub repos. One contains an informal specification detailing the concepts behind the end-to-end verifiable system and a formal spec to guide manufacturers in how to integrate ElectionGuard into their systems.

The other repos contain the source code (written in C) for ElectionGuard, a reference implementation of a verifier to be used to independently verify results and another reference implementation of a ballot-marking device. Microsoft has already shown off an example that made use of the Xbox adaptive controller to mark ballots.

The company expects to see ElectionGuard turning up in elections by 2020, or possibly sooner. ®

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