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Microsoft Updating Windows To Kill Off Its Journal Application

Microsoft wants its Windows Journal note-taking app gone because it's considered to be a security risk.

Late last month, Microsoft released an update to permanently remove Windows Journal from all Windows operating systems. This Windows update, published on July 28, will automatically remove Windows Journal without requiring IT pros to make registry changes. Microsoft's Knowledge Base article KB3161102 outlines what to expect.

Microsoft is delivering the KB3161102 update through its Windows Update service. It's also available for download from the Microsoft Download Center and the Microsoft Update Catalog portals.

In May, Microsoft issued a critical security patch for Windows to address a remote code execution flaw in Journal, but apparently the patch wasn't good enough to address its overall security issues. Now, Microsoft really wants Windows Journal to go away, so much so that the Knowledge Base article cautions that "you can't uninstall this update [KB3161102] after you install it."

The use of a Windows update release to remove a Windows feature is "quite unusual," according to InfoWorld writer Woody Leonhard, in his AskWoody blog. He also noted in his blog that a reader was reporting possible Microsoft Outlook issues associated with KB3161102, although the issues apparently haven't been replicated.

Instead of using Windows Journal, Microsoft is recommending the use of its OneNote app, which is a free note-taking application "for all supported versions of Windows."

Alternatively, for organizations dependent on using Windows Journal, Microsoft has built an installable version of the app, but it only can take effect after the KB3161102 Windows update has been applied. Even then, this installed-app version of Windows Journal will pop up a message informing users of the security risks of using it. The installable app also will lack Windows Journal Note Writer, a feature that is "deprecated," according to the Knowledge Base article.

Microsoft considers Windows Journal, and its JNT file format, to be "susceptible to many security exploits." Windows Journal was first introduced in Microsoft's operating systems with the release of the Windows XP Tablet. It's been in all Windows releases since that time. It's even in Windows 10 version 1511.

One caveat is that KB3161102 doesn't work for Windows Embedded 7 "and should not be installed on that operating system," Microsoft's Knowledge Base article cautioned.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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