Expired cert breaks Windows 11 snipping tool, emoji panel, S Mode features, other stuff

And we're talking about shipped code, not some Insider beta, here

It has proved an unfortunate Halloween for Microsoft, with the ghost of an expired certificate haunting Windows 11 users. The upshot is: various built-in programs may stop working properly or cannot be opened at all.

Redmond yesterday said "some users" are affected, so you may or may not notice the blunder. This all applies to at least Windows 11 version 21H2.

The cryptographic cert at the heart of this affair ran out at the end of October leading to failures this month, according to Microsoft: "Starting on November 1, 2021, some users might be unable to open or use certain built-in Windows apps or parts of some built-in apps. This is caused by an issue with a Microsoft digital certificate, which expired October 31, 2021."

The hardest hit is the snipping tool, used to capture and annotate screenshots, which is now just broken. Microsoft can't fix it just yet, and so advises folks to experience the joys of turn-of-the-century computing with the following suggested workaround.

"Use the Print Screen key on your keyboard and paste the screenshot into your document. You can also paste it into Paint to select and copy the section you want," it advised.

For those using the supposedly more secure-and-streamlined Windows 11 S Mode, the accounts and landing pages in the Settings app may be inaccessible. The Start menu is also knackered in S Mode. Again, Microsoft has no fix for this, or even a workaround, right now.

"We are working on a near term resolution for the Snipping tool and the S mode issues and will provide an update when available," the IT giant said.

The following components are also busted: the Touch Keyboard, Voice Typing and Emoji Panel; the Input Method Editor user interface; and, incredibly, the Getting started and Tips app. Yup, Microsoft broke emoji input. How will it ever regain the trust of the youth now?

These three items can be restored to working order by installing KB5006746, which you can try applying by checking the Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Optional updates available panel.

The patch, which was released on October 21, is described as a preview, meaning you'd normally have to install it manually if needed. That said, Microsoft said it "will automatically update affected devices with KB5006746." To us, that sounds as though you can apply it by yourself now, or wait for Redmond to roll it out to you. Microsoft hasn't given a timescale for fixing the snipping tool or S mode issues as yet.

We guess there are two takeaways from this: try not to let your certs expire, and try not to rush into installing a new operating system as soon as it's released. Give it a few months at least to settle down. ®

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