Microsoft Criticized For VPN-Breaking Windows 10 Update

“Windows 10 continues to be a danger zone,” writes Forbes senior contributor Gordon Kelly:
Not only have problems been piling up in recent weeks, Microsoft has also been worryingly deceptive about the operation of key services. And now the company has warned millions about another problem. Spotted by the always excellent Windows Latest, Microsoft has told tens of millions of Windows 10 users that the latest KB4501375 update may break the platform’s Remote Access Connection Manager (RASMAN). And this can have serious repercussions.

The big one is VPNs. RASMAN handles how Windows 10 connects to the internet and it is a core background task for VPN services to function normally. Given the astonishing growth in VPN usage for everything from online privacy and important work tasks to unlocking Netflix and YouTube libraries, this has the potential to impact heavily on how you use your computer. Interestingly, in detailing the issue Microsoft states that it only affects Windows 10 1903 – the latest version of the platform.

The problem is Windows 10 1903 accounts for a conservative total of at least 50M users.
Microsoft estimates they’ll have a solution available “in late July,” adding that the issue only occurs “when a VPN profile is configured as an Always On VPN (AOVPN) connection with or without device tunnel. This does not affect manual only VPN profiles or connections.” That support page also offers a work-around which involves configuring the default telemetry settings in either the group policy settings or with a registry value.

UPDATE (7/7/2019): ZDNet is strongly criticizing Forbes’ article, arguing that the issue affects only a small number of Windows users, “when the diagnostic data level setting is manually configured to the non-default setting of 0.”

For those who don’t understand how unusual that configuration is, note that it applies only to Windows 10 Enterprise and that it can be set only using Group Policy on corporate networks or by manually editing the registry. You can’t accidentally enable this setting. And you can’t deliberately set it on a system running Windows 10 Home or Pro, because it is for Enterprise edition only.

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