August’s Patch Tuesday is notable more for the updates we didn’t get than for those we did.
It was rumored that this Patch Tuesday would see the release of another big update for Windows 8.1 — the so-called Update 2. It never happened.
The Windows 8.1 update that never was
In late July, there were numerous reports that Microsoft would release an update on the level of Windows 8.1 Update, which added some much-needed UI fixes. As with every rumor of Windows 8 enhancements, the inclusion of a Win7-like desktop Start menu was mentioned. But the anticipated Windows 8.1 Update 2 never materialized. August’s Patch Tuesday brought only the usual round of security and nonsecurity fixes for Windows. So, as usual, I start with the security updates and follow those with the various nonsecurity patches.
Delay in giving browsers some added protection
This month’s Internet Explorer patch, KB 2976627, includes a framework for blocking obsolete ActiveX controls that could be used in cyber attacks. As noted on an Aug. 6 IEBlog post, Microsoft was planning to start blocking out-of-date ActiveX controls on Aug. 13 but delayed flipping the switch for a month, to give corporate customers additional time to prepare for the change.
The new system will alert IE users when it blocks webpages or parts of webpages because they contain dated ActiveX controls. Java apps often use ActiveX controls; if you have removed Java from your machine or are running the latest version of Java, you probably won’t see many (if any) of the blocking alerts.
Keep in mind that ActiveX blocking is limited to websites that run within IE’s Internet zone security settings. Local intranet and trusted sites are exempt. If you frequently visit a site you trust, and you keep getting ActiveX-blocking warnings, add the site to IE’s list of trusted locations. To do so, click Tools/Internet Options and then select the Security tab. Select Trusted sites and then click the Site button. Add the site’s URL.
This IE patch also includes fixes to IE for crashes and general performance issues.