While testing Always On VPN in Windows 10, I discovered an issue where users couldn’t access the Network Connections settings to see what the VPN profile was up to.
Network Connections is accessible in a few ways, including via Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network Connections, or ‘Change Adapter Options’ under Settings > Network and Internet > Ethernet. It was locked down, but I wasn’t sure why.
If I changed a user to be a local administrator, I could then access Network Connections. I couldn’t find any reason why it could be locked down, until I stumbled across this old Group Policy Setting:
Based on it’s name, it should be just doing exactly what it says. Plus, the newsest desktop OS listed for support is Windows Vista.
However, as the help explicitly says:
Network Connections still appears in Control Panel and in File Explorer, but if users try to start it, a message appears explaining that a setting prevents the action.
And that’s exactly what it was doing. After removing the setting from being configured and running ‘gpupdate’, I could immediately access Network Connections again.
Another reason to make sure your Group Policy settings are cleaned up – this setting was set over 10 years ago, and took this long to discover and remove!
Lenovo’s X1 Yoga is my favorite business laptop. Ever since the X1 Yoga Gen 1 came out, I liked it over the other X1 options as it was an all-rounder, while doing everything really well.
That first generation came out in 2016, and each year there’s been a new one, the 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen and now in 2019, we’re at the 4th Gen.
It’s about time I did a round up and comparison of these four models.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 YogaGen 1
The Gen 1 came out in 2016 as the X1 Carbon became lighter, thinner and lost it’s touchscreen. There was mixed reaction to this decision from Lenovo, and although the Yoga had existed in several forms previously, this was the first in the ThinkPad X1 series.
Notable on this model is the OneLink+ connector – a shortlived port for a OneLink+ dock that only survived a single generation, to be replaced by USB-C/Thunderbolt. It has the standard rectangle style power plug hole, again this would not be seen on future X1 Yogas.
This is the only model to not have a dedicated Ethernet port, instead a special OneLink+ Ethernet dongle, USB2 100mbit dongle or USB3 gigabit dongle was required.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 2
2017 saw this release with the 7th Gen Intel CPU and the OneLink+ port abandoned, replaced by USB-C. This was great, since it was now an industry standard and meant there was a lot of flexibility with what power pack and dock you could use.
This is the first model to have an OLED display option, and strangely this Gen 2 is slightly thicker and heavier than the Gen 1. There wasn’t that many improvements in this model, but overall it’s pretty well rounded solution.
Battery life on this was claimed to be a lot better than the Gen 1.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 3
It was the third model’s turn in 2018 which saw few changes again. Another generation jump on the Intel CPU, which this time doubled the core count from the 7th to 8th mobile CPU generation.
Other smaller changes included the introduction of a shutter over the camera, a HDR display option with Dolby Vision, and the black colouring a bit different – the chassis is glossier, and anything silver has gone black including the hinges and ThinkPad logo (it still looks silver in this photo sorry!)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4
And finally, here we are in 2019 with the Gen 4 being released… and it’s a major jump. The biggest jump we’ve seen year to year so far. An all metal chassis, the laptop footprint has been drastically reduced (17% smaller footprint, 11% thinner), the colour is now ‘iron grey’ which I’m personally a fan of, and the screen to bezel distance is much smaller.
There’s also a new connector for a different ethernet dongle, and support for a new style of dock that connects on the left hand side to the combo USB-C/ethernet slot. Of course it’s jumped a CPU generation again, up to Intel’s 8th.
The MicroSD slot has been dropped, probably as part of making the laptop smaller. If you really need that, then look at any of the previous generations.
One other interesting feature is a new privacy screen option called PrivacyGuard that can be toggled on and off, and stops people seeing the screen on an angle. The retractable key feature has gone again – there’s no rubber feet to protect the keys, but they might be minutely sunk in, I couldn’t tell with the naked eye.
The final note on this model is that it has a very similar CPU to the Gen 3, still an 8th Generation Intel CPU but a newer variant – Whiskey Lake rather than Kaby Lake.
Let’s have a look at the 4 generations stacked together, going bottom to top Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3 and Gen 4:
You can see that footprint difference in the photos above. The 4th Gen looks completely different to the rest.
Each of my individual reviews lists out the possible specs for each model if you want to dive a bit further into the technical differences;
The X1 Yoga will never be as small and light as the X1 Carbon, and never be as portable as the X1 Tablet, nor the powerhouse of the X1 Extreme – but it is all of these devices at once in it’s own way. It’s still my pick of the X1 series for it’s flexibility, but the other choices could also be better for your personal needs if you know how you’re going to use it.
Lenovo’s newest ThinkPad X1 Yoga is out, and as soon as I took it out the box there were some vast differences compared to all the other X1 Yogas. I’ve spent some time using one for a few weeks now, so let’s check it out.
Where to start with the differences… it has a smaller footprint, it’s all metal, it’s a different colour (iron gray) and it just doesn’t look like the older X1 Yogas.
I’ve written up a quick comparison of the ‘Four Generations of ThinkPad X1 Yoga’ seperately, so I’ll try to focus on this more as a standalone review.
Here’s an overview of the tech specs with the options I have bolded:
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (1 x Always On) 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 / Thunderbolt™ 3 1 x HDMI 1.4b 1 x Ethernet extension connector 1 x nano-SIM card slot (WWAN model) 1 x headphone/mic jack 1 x side docking connector
ThinkPad Thunderbolt™ 3 Dock ThinkPad Basic/Pro/Ultra Docking Station CS18 ThinkPad USB 3.0 Pro/Ultra Dock
Processor – It’s nice to have the 8th Gen CPU with it’s 4 cores / 8 threads on the entry level option, but this is the first time we’ve not seen a generational jump from the previous year’s X1 Yoga. The 8th Gen for laptops was a good change though, as it doubled the core count. I’m not sure why Lenovo didn’t go for the newer 9th gen CPU; maybe it wasn’t ready in time, and since the 8th to 9th jump isn’t much of a difference they went ahead with the 8th gen again – albeit Whiskey Lake rather than Kaby Lake. Update: Lenovo have now announced that they’ll be releasing a 10th gen CPU option in September 2019, with everything else being identical.
Display – Although I have the lowest end 1080p screen as usual, it’s a really crisp screen to look at. The viewing angles are impressive, at no stage does the screen become less readable and the bezel itself is small – a lot smaller than previous models. There’s also the PrivacyGuard option which might not be available at the time of writing, but it looks like a nice choice for users who work in public areas. That full 4K option with HDR/Dolby Vision would also look great I’m sure!
Dimensions – Weight wise it’s about the same as previous models, not too heavy – but the footprint it takes up is 17% less than previous models. Those now feel much chunkier that I’ve been using this new one, and it’s not too small. It’s also a bit thinner than previous models too, by 11%.
Audio Support – The speakers have been moved since previous models, and the sound now comes out the top of the keyboard so the sound appears to come straight at you, with the subwoofer on the bottom of the unit.
Ethernet – This is an interesting change – there’s a new Ethernet dongle connector which appears to be due to the new dock support.
Personally I’d rather just have a USB3 dongle or an actual Ethernet port, but I also want a thin laptop, and I still *could* use a USB3 dongle – which has the overhead of using the USB BUS instead of getting directly to Ethernet on the laptop.
Let’s see more of this laptop:
Here’s a photo of the screen (which doesn’t do it justice quality wise), but you can see how much smaller the bezel is on this.
On the left side of the laptop going from left to right we have USB-C, USB-C + Ethernet in a single port but can still be used separately, USB 3, full sized HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The right side has the stylus, which is a bit more hidden than previous models (and sometimes I try to press that to power on the unit), power, USB 3, vent, and Kensington lock.
The keyboard is nicely laid out without any keys in strange places, backlit also and the keys are easy to type on. The Trackpad too works well – nothing to complain about here at all.
I can honestly say this is the best X1 Yoga yet. There’s no negatives at all to me, beyond price since it’s the newest. If you care about Ethernet you’ll have to use the new adapter, but that comes with it anyway and it’s unlikely you’ve invested in a bunch of those from older models.
The one removal that some people might not like is the inbuild SD Card reader – it was in previous generations – so if that’s a must have for you. you’re out of luck. Look at a different laptop or get used to using a USB SD Card reader.
It’s fast, the screen is great, it feels even higher quality than previous models due to being completely aluminium and magnesium, and it still even has a stylus tucked away. The speakers are improved, so it’s even a better movie watching experience on this business laptop.
RAM is soldered on as usual, the only thing you could upgrade would be the SSD and it’s not a laptop designed to be opened up – so make sure you get specs that’ll keep you happy for a few years.
I hope this review helps you decide what you’re looking for, feel free to post and questions below.
Also, if you want a video review, check out Lisa’s review on MobileTechReview:
AKA How to force certain websites when opened in Edge, to instead open in Internet Explorer.
Microsoft Edge is undergoing a big change with the underlying platform being migrated to Chromium – things will change with that (along with a new Internet Explorer mode) but that doesn’t help right now.
Many companies have certain websites they need to use that either require Internet Explorer, or work best in Internet Explorer. This isn’t about what browser is ‘best’, but some solutions were designed with only Internet Explorer in use.
Getting users to use the right website in the right scenario can be a pain, and every user seems to have their own opinion on what browser they prefer to use. Microsoft Edge has a great solution for this – Enterprise Mode. There was also an Enterprise Mode in Internet Explorer that worked in a similar way too, where you could force certain sites to run as a certain version of IE for compatibility reasons.
This is quite easy to set up, but I’ve found the existing documentation rather confusing to follow and doesn’t give an end to end explanation – or documentation is rather outdated and was written when the feature first came out, with a lot of options changing since then.
Enterprise Mode Site List Manager will start off blank. Click the ‘Add’ button on the bottom, type in the URL of the site you want to use (don’t worry about http or https if you want to catch both). You then tell it what to do with that URL – Open in IE, Edge, or do nothing. Since we’re opening everything in Edge except what we want in this list, open in IE11 is the option we want, and leave it at the default IE8 Enterprise Mode (or change this if you need a different compatibility mode).
There’s two parts to maintaining a list – Exporting/Importing lists, and Saving as XML:
Once you have a record to test, go to File > Export. This will save your details into an .emie2 file, and put that somewhere central and safe. The idea is that you’ll need to import that file list to make a change, then export again. If you don’t do this, you won’t have a way for others to get the list of sites and make changes by importing that file at a later date. It has in-built version control (this is important, more later), in the screenshot above you can see it’s version 5.
Then, you can save your URL to an XML file. This is what Edge will read when it launches. Either save this file centrally where everyone can read it (no write access required, just read), or copy it to everyone’s computer locally via GPO. Personally I’ve just put it in a central location.
Step 2 – Configure Group Policyor Intune
I’m using Group Policy, but the Microsoft Documentation mentions Intune is supported too – we’re only changing registry settings, so that makes sense.
Turning on Enterprise Mode can be done at either the Computer or User level, and is under > Policies > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Microsoft Edge > Configure the Enterprise Mode Site List.
Enable this setting, and in the options enter the path of where your XML is – e.g. \\server\sharename\edge.xml – or C:\Data\edgesettings.xml. Although the Group Policy says URL, it’ll accept UNC paths or drives.
If you’ve used a Computer Configuration setting, gpupdate then reboot (or reboot twice). To tell if the setting has applied, check the value of the registry setting:
SiteList = The path you entered in the Group Policy setting.
If you’re see that, great! Group Policy is working. One caveat if you have System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) – it can potentially use this setting also as per this technet thread which is exactly what I had. I was testing a user policy, but this was configured at both the user and computer levels so my user setting was being ignored. I’m not sure if this is still used, but worth being aware of.
Version control is also recorded in the registry. It lives under:
regardless of the SiteList being under Computer or User. There’s a few catches with this – first, it’ll only show up after Edge is launched, and you wait ~65 seconds. It’ll show the same version as what’s contained in the XML, which was the version we saw in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager.
If you have the ConfigMgr setting, or have ever had Enterprise Mode for Edge enabled in your environment, then the version might already exist and be higher than what you’ve tried to deploy. On my PC, I saw version 28000 something – that’s a lot of versions.
You’ll need to either delete that value for everyone to start back at 0, then after Edge is launched per user, it’ll update to whatever your XML file contains, or update the version in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager to a higher number than whatever’s out there in your environment.
To change the version in Enterprise Mode Site List Manager, on the computer with it installed navigate to
C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming\EMIESiteListManager\ – in that path should be a file called SiteList.xml.
That file should have the first line as <site-list version=”5″> or whatever the current version is, and you can just change that ‘5’ to whatever number you want. Open Enterprise Mode Site List Manager and you’ll see that updated version number, which will then get written +1 to the XML file next time you save it out.
That’s really it – it’s simple, but there are a few catches I ran into when testing. Once this is in place, if a user goes to a site that you’ve listed in the XML, a new window opens in IE and goes to that site instead. It’ll also support subsites, so you don’t need to sent traffic for an entire domain like adamfowlerit.com there, it could be adamfowlerit.com/news and only hits to that subdomain will be triggered.
There’s a few other Group Policy settings around this such as forcing all intranet sites to go to IE, you’ll need to work out what’s best for your environment.
I’ve already written a post on why Legacy Authentication (Basic) is bad, and Modern Authentication is good. At the time of writing, Authentication Policies were the way to go to block Legacy Authentication methods. Of course, things change and there’s now a better* option to look at – Conditional Access.
I’ve also covered Conditional Access before, and it’s really hard to fault the solution. There are now Baseline policies deployed by default (still in preview though) to Azure AD tenants with recommended best practices:
One of these is for blocking legacy authentication – but I’m not going to recommend you turn this on (at least for starters, it’s good at the end when you know you have full modern authentication support), as it’s a tenant wide setting that has no exceptions if you need to allow legacy authentication for an account (unlike Require MFA for admins, which does allow exceptions).
Instead, you can create your own policy that does the same. This means you can gradually roll it out, and put exceptions in place until you either work around them, or live with them. If you have a requirement for an account that requires legacy auth, then you need to consider how else you’ll protect that account – can you use other Conditional Access policies to restrict it to a certain region/locations, certain apps, platforms etc – lock it down as much as you can, and make sure the account has a long unique password.
The single important setting to block legacy auth via a Conditional Access Policy is blocking access to ‘Other clients’ via Client apps:
If an account has their access or signin blocked due to an Authentication Policy, it’s not logged. You can look at the user in Azure AD and check the sign-ins, but you won’t see anything. However, if it blocked via Conditional Access, you’ll have a nice log entry showing you it was blocked:
Side note: Although in this example I was logging in from Australia, I was trying to connect to Exchange Online via PowerShell. That seems to often be detected as being in the US, so be careful with region blocking.
The other reason is that Authentication Policies can take up to 4 (!) hours to apply, although it’s often more like an hour. That is a long time to wait, and you just have to keep waiting and trying until it works – except if you did it wrong, you won’t know and you’ll keep waiting. Or, if you need to unblock access while rolling out, it’s a long time to roll back.
Authentication Policies do have their place though, they give more granular control over what you want to block or not – say you know you want to block POP3 access company wide, but not IMAP – that’s possible in there, but not via Conditional Access.
Unless you have a good reason to use Authentication Policies, just use Conditional Access (and assuming you have Azure AD Premium P1 or P2 licensing to actually let you use Conditional Access, and if you are using Azure AD you should be on that licensing anyway). It’ll make your life easier!