January 2023 Patch Tuesday Testing Guidance

Each month, the team at Readiness analyses the latest Patch Tuesday updates from Microsoft and provides detailed, actionable testing guidance. This guidance is based on assessing a large application portfolio and a detailed analysis of the Microsoft patches and their potential impact on the Windows platforms and application installations.

Given the large number of changes included in this January patch cycle, I have broken down the testing scenarios into a high risk and standard risk groups:

High Risk: This January update from Microsoft delivers a significant number of high-risk changes to the system kernel and printing sub-systems within Windows. Unfortunately, these changes include critical system files such as win32base.sys, sqlsrv32.dll and win32k.sys; further broadening the testing profile for this patch cycle.

As all these high-risk changes affect the Microsoft Windows printing sub-system (though we have not seen any published functionality changes) we strongly recommend the following “print” focused testing:

  • Add and remove watermarks when printing
  • Change the default printing spool directory
  • Connect to a Bluetooth printer and print both black and white and colour pages
  • Try using the (Microsoft )MS Publisher Imagesetter driver. This is available as “Generic” printer driver and can be installed on any Windows 8.x or later machine. Due to the large number of download sites that provide this driver – please ensure that your download is both digitally signed and from a reputable source (i.e., Windows update)

All these scenarios will require significant application specific testing before a general deployment of this month’s update. In addition to these listed specific testing requirements, we suggest a general test of the following printing features

  • Printing from directly connected printers
  • Remote printing (using RDP and VPN’s)
  • Test physical and virtual scenarios with 32-bit apps on 64-bit machines

More generally, given the broad nature of this update we suggest the testing the following Windows features and components:

  • Test out user-based scenarios that rely upon touchpoint and gesture support
  • Try to connect/disconnect STTP VPN Sessions. You can read more about these updated protocols here:
  • Using Microsoft LDAP services test applications that require access to Active Directory queries

In addition, these changes and subsequent testing requirements, I have included some of the more difficult testing scenarios for this January update:

  • SQL Queries: Oh dear. You will have to ensure that you business critical applications that use SQL (who doesn’t) like, you know, actually work. As in returning the correct data-sets from enormously complex, multi-sourced, heterogeneous database queries. I am sorry – having real trouble with this one. Good luck.
  • Legacy Applications: If you have an older (legacy) application that may use now deprecated windows classes, you will have to run a full application test in addition to any basic smoke tests.

With all of these more difficult testing scenarios, we recommend that you scan your application portfolio for updated application components or system level dependencies. This scan should then provide a short-list of affected applications, which should reduce your testing and subsequent deployment effort.

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