Tech Insight : Windows 11 Updates & VBScript Kill-Off ?

In this insight, we look at the implications of Microsoft’s announcement that the Windows 11 24H2 update is being tested in a pre-release stage and the deprecation of VBScript is being initiated by making it an optional feature. 

What Did Microsoft Say? 

Microsoft has announced that it is making this year’s annual feature update Windows 11, version 24H2 (Build 26100.712) available in the Release Preview Channel for customers to preview ahead of general availability later this year. 

Microsoft says that Windows 11, version 24H2 includes a range of new features like “the HDR background support, energy saver, Sudo for Windows, Rust in the Windows kernel, support for Wi-Fi 7, voice clarity” and more.  

Improvements Across Windows 

The update also includes many improvements across Windows, such as: 

– A scrollable view of the quick settings flyout from the taskbar. 

– The ability to create 7-zip and TAR archives in File Explorer (in addition to ZIP). 7-Zip is a free, open-source file archiver that compresses files into various archive formats, notably its own 7z format, and TAR (Tape Archive) – a widely used format for combining multiple files into a single archive file (typically without compression). 

– Improvements for connecting Bluetooth® Low Energy Audio devices, i.e. to enhance audio quality, reduce latency, and improve power efficiency for supported devices. 

Copilot Pinned To The Taskbar 

Microsoft has also said that in response to feedback from users, the update will also mean that Copilot on Windows as an app will be pinned to the taskbar. This means users can get the benefits of a traditional app experience (e.g. it can be resized, moved, and snapped to the window). 

More Details To Come 

Microsoft says although Windows Insiders in the Release Preview Channel can install Windows 11, version 24H2 via its “seeker” experience, the rest of us will have to wait for more details in the coming months of the new features and improvements included as part of Windows 11, version 24H2 leading up to general availability. 

The Deprecation of VBScript 

One other significant announcement from Microsoft was the sharing of a timeline for the deprecation (phasing out) of Visual Basic Scripting Edition, commonly referred to as VBScript. Last October, Microsoft announced that VBScript, first introduced in 1996, would be gradually deprecated. 

The latest timeline news is that beginning with the new OS release later this year, VBScript will be available as features on demand (FODs). Microsoft says the feature will finally be completely retired from future Windows OS releases “as we transition to the more efficient PowerShell experiences.”  A diagram of the timeline states that VBScript FODs will be completely disabled by default in 2027. 

Why Is VBScript Going? 

Microsoft says VBScript (VBS) is finally going because there are more versatile scripting languages (e.g. JavaScript and PowerShell) that offer “broader capabilities and are better suited for modern web development and automation tasks.” 

However, it should also be noted that VBS was a popular tool for cyber-criminals and the fact that VBScript was integrated into the Windows environment meant that it could be exploited to create VBS malware. For example, the highly destructive “ILOVEYOU” worm (2000) was VBS malware. Increased security by closing another door for cyber-criminals is apparently therefore another reason why Microsoft’s getting rid of VBS. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The forthcoming Windows 11 24H2 update looks like it will bring several key benefits for UK businesses, promising to enhance productivity, security, and overall user experience. Key improvements, such as support for HDR backgrounds, energy-saving features, and the integration of Sudo for Windows and Rust in the Windows kernel, will provide businesses with more robust and efficient systems. The introduction of support for Wi-Fi 7 and improved voice clarity may also enhance connectivity and communication within the workplace, which would be helpful for maintaining seamless operations in today’s ‘digital-first’ business environment. 

Also, the update’s enhancements for Bluetooth Low Energy Audio devices could be particularly advantageous for businesses relying on audio devices for communication and collaboration. 

The news of the inclusion of a scrollable quick settings flyout and the ability to create 7-Zip and TAR archives directly in File Explorer may simplify business file management and streamline workflows. Such improvements could help make everyday tasks more intuitive and less time-consuming, allowing employees to focus on more critical business activities. 

However, it’s worth noting for balance that, as with other updates, some businesses may face compatibility issues with legacy systems or software that has not yet been optimised for the new features. There may also be a learning curve associated with the new functionalities, i.e. perhaps requiring additional training time to fully utilise the update’s benefits. 

As for the deprecation of VBScript, considering how long it’s been around, the timeline for its demise marks a significant shift for businesses still relying on this scripting language. While moving to more modern and secure scripting languages like PowerShell and JavaScript offers improved capabilities and security, the transition may necessitate some adjustments. Businesses may need to update or replace legacy systems and scripts that depend on VBScript, which could involve some time and resource investments. 

On the positive side, phasing out VBScript should reduce some Windows security risks, as VBS has historically been exploited for malware attacks. The phasing out of VBS, therefore, should enhance the overall security posture of Windows environments, thereby helping businesses protect their data and operations from cyber threats. 

In summary, while the Windows 11 24H2 update promises enhancements that can drive efficiency and security, businesses must prepare for potential compatibility issues and the need to transition away from VBScript. Armed with this knowledge, proactive planning for the changes can help UK businesses to maximise the benefits of the new update and maintain a secure, modern, and efficient IT environment.

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