Offline Azure Devops Windows 2012 R2 build server with failing builds


While this post is about an Offline Azure Devops Windows 2012 R2 build server with failing builds let me talk about the depreciation of TLS 1.0/1.1. Now this is just my humble opinion, as someone who has been implementing TLS 1.3, QUIC and even SMB over QUIC. The out phasing of TLS 1.0/1.1 in favor of TLS 1.2 has been an effort done at snail’s pace. But hey, here we are,  TLS 1.0/1.1 are still working for Azure Devops Services. Many years after all the talk, hints, tips, hunches and efforts to get rid of it. They did disable it finally on November 31st 2021 (Deprecating weak cryptographic standards (TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1) in Azure DevOps)) but on January 31st 2022 Microsoft had to re-enable it since to many customers ran into issues. Sigh.

Tech Debt

The biggest reason for these issues are tech debt, i.e. old server versions. So it was in this case, but with a twist. Why was the build server still running Windows Server 2012 R2? Well in this case the developers won’t allow an upgrade or migration of the server to a newer version because they are scared they won’t be able to get the configuration running again and won’t be able to build their code anymore. This is not a joke but better to laugh than to cry, that place has chased away most good developers long ago and left pretty few willing to fight the good fight as there no reward for doing the right things, quite the opposite.

Offline Azure Devops Windows 2012 R2 build server with failing builds

But Microsoft, rightly so, must disable TLS 1.0/1.1 and will do so on March 31st 2022. To enable customers to detect issues they enabled it already temporarily on March 22nd ( 24th ( form 09:00 to 21:00 UTC.

Guess what? On March 24th I got a call to trouble shoot Azure Devops Services build server issues. A certain critical on-premises build server shows as off line in Azure and their builds with a dead line of March 25th were failing. Who you going to call?

Offline Azure Devops Windows 2012 R2 build server with failing builds
No bueno!

That’s right, WorkingHardInIT! Sure enough, a quick test (Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -UseBasicParsing).StatusDescription did not return OK.

Now what made it interesting is that this Windows Server 2012R2 had been setup so that it would only support TLS 1.2 some years ago because they has issues with chipper mismatches and SQL Server (see Intermittent TLS issues with Windows Server 2012 R2 connecting to SQL Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 or 2019). So why was it failing and why did it not fail before?

Windows Server 2012 R2 with Azure Devops Services from March 31st 2022

To run Windows Server 2012 R2 with Azure Devops Services from March 31st 2022 there are some requirements listed in Deprecating weak cryptographic standards (TLS 1.0 and 1.1) in Azure DevOps Services.

Well first of all that server only had .NET 4.6 installed. .NET 4.7 or higher is a requirement after March 31st 2022 for connectivity to Azure Devops Services.

So, I checked that there were (working backups) and made a Hyper-V checkpoint of the VM. I then installed .NET 4.8 and rebooted the host. I ran (Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -UseBasicParsing).StatusDescription again, but no joy.

There is another requirement that you must pay extra attention to, the enable ciphers! Specifically for Windows Server 2012 R2 the below cipher suites are the only two that will work with Azure Devops Services.


On that old build server they were missing. Why? We enforced TLS 1.2 only a few years back but the PowerShell script  used to do so did not enable these chippers. The code itself is fine. You can find it at Setup Microsoft Windows or IIS for SSL Perfect Forward Secrecy and TLS 1.2 | Hass – IT Consulting.

But pay attention to the part about the AEAD ciphers that are only available on Windows Server 2012 R2. The above to ciphers are missing and I added them.

Offline Azure Devops Windows 2012 R2 build server with failing builds
Add the two ciphers needed for W2K12R2 with Azure Devops

Add those two ciphers to the part for Windows Server 2012 R2. and run the script again. That requires a server reboot.Our check with (Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -UseBasicParsing).StatusDescription returns OK. The build server was online again in Azure Devops and they could build whatever they want via Azure Devops.


Tech debt is all around us. I avoid it as much as possible. Now, on this occurrence I was able to fix the issue quite easily. But I walked away telling them to either move the builds to azure or replace the VM with Windows Server 2022 (they won’t). There are reasons such a cost, consistent build speed to stay with an on-prem virtual machine. But than one should keep it in tip top shape. The situation that no one dares touch it is disconcerting. And in the end, I come in and do touch it, minimally, for them to be able to work. Touching tech is unavoidable, from monthly patching, over software upgrades to operating system upgrades. Someone needs to do this. Either you take that responsibility or you let someone (Azure) do that for you.

Quick Assist: CredSSP encryption oracle remediation Error

In the past 12 hours I’ve seen the first mentions of people no longer being able to connect over RDP via a RD Gateway to their clients or servers. I also got a call to ask for help with such an issue. The moment I saw the error message it rang home that this was a known and documented issue with CredSSP encryption oracle remediation, which is both preventable and fixable.

The person trying to connect over RD Gateway get the following message:
[Window Title]
Remote Desktop Connection
An authentication error has occurred.
The function requested is not supported
Remote computer:
This could be due to CredSSP encryption oracle remediation.
For more information, see


Follow that link and it will tell you all you need to know to fix it and how to avoid it.
A remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2018-0886) exists in unpatched versions of CredSSP. This issue was addressed by correcting how CredSSP validates requests during the authentication process.

The initial March 13, 2018, release updates the CredSSP authentication protocol and the Remote Desktop clients for all affected platforms.
Mitigation consists of installing the update on all eligible client and server operating systems and then using included Group Policy settings or registry-based equivalents to manage the setting options on the client and server computers. We recommend that administrators apply the policy and set it to  “Force updated clients” or “Mitigated” on client and server computers as soon as possible.  These changes will require a reboot of the affected systems. Pay close attention to Group Policy or registry settings pairs that result in “Blocked” interactions between clients and servers in the compatibility table later in this article.

April 17, 2018:
The Remote Desktop Client (RDP) update update in KB 4093120 will enhance the error message that is presented when an updated client fails to connect to a server that has not been updated.

May 8, 2018:
An update to change the default setting from Vulnerable to Mitigated (KB4103723 for W2K16 servers) and KB4103727 for Windows 10 clients. Don’t forget the vulnerability also exists for W2K12(R2) and lower as well as equivalent clients.

The key here is that with the May updates change the default for the new policy setting changes the default setting from to mitigated.

Microsoft is releasing new Windows security updates to address this CVE on May 8, 2018. The updates released in March did not enforce the new version of the Credential Security Support Provider protocol. These security updates do make the new version mandatory. For more information see “CredSSP updates for CVE-2018-0886” located at

This can result in mismatches between systems at different patch levels. Which is why it’s now more of a wide spread issue. Looking at the table in the article and the documented errors it’s clear enough there was a mismatch. It was also clear how to fix it. Patch all systems and make sure the settings are consistent. Use GPO or edit the registry settings to do so. Automation is key here. Uninstalling the patch works but is not a good idea. This vulnerability is serious.


Now Microsoft did warn about this change. You can even read about it on the PFE blog Nevertheless, many people seem to have been bitten by this one. I know it’s hard to keep up with everything that is moving at the speed of light in IT but this is one I was on top of. This is due to the fact that the fix is for a remote vulnerability in RDS. That’s a big deal and not one I was willing let slide. You need to roll out the updates and you need to configure your policy and make sure you’re secured. The alternative (rolling back the updates, allowing vulnerable connections) is not acceptable, be vulnerable to a known and fixable exploit. TAKE YOUR MEDICIN!  Read the links above for detailed guidance on how to do this. Set your policy on both sides to mitigated. You don’t need to force updated clients to fix the issue this way and you can patch your servers 1st followed by your clients. Do note the tips given on doing this in the PFE blog:

Note: Ensure that you update the Group Policy Central Store (Or if not using a Central Store, use a device with the patch applied when editing Group Policy) with the latest CredSSP.admx and CredSSP.adml. These files will contain the latest copy of the edit configuration settings for these settings, as seen below.

Path: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\CredSSP\Parameters
Value: AllowEncryptionOracle
Date type: DWORD
Reboot required: Yes

Here’s are the registry settings you need to make sure connectivity is restored

Everything patched: 0 => when all is patched including 3rd party CredSSP clients you can use “Force updated clients”
server patched but not all clients: 1 =>use “mitigated”, you’ll be as secure as possible without blocking people. Alternatively you can use 2 (“vulnerable”) but avoid that if possible  as it is more risky, so I would avoid that.


So, check your clients and servers, both on-premises and in the cloud to make sure you’re protected and have as little RDS connectivity issues as possible. Don’t forget about 3rd party clients that need updates to if you have those! Don’t panic and carry on.

Microsoft Pulled KB4036479 for Windows Server 2012 R2

Nothing like coming back from a holiday to find out the quality assurance of Windows updates has cause some issues once again. What saved the day here is a great colleague who identified the problem, declined the update in WSUS and removed it from the affected machines. Meanwhile, Microsoft Pulled KB4036479 for Windows Server 2012 R2.

KB4036479 was to eliminated the restart that occurs during initial machine configuration (IMC) with with Windows Server 2012 R2. But after a the “successful” update it does the post install reboot, rolls it back and that process starts all over. This happened to both Windows Server 2012 R2 VMs on premises as well as in Azure IAAS. For now it has been pulled form the Microsoft Update Catalog ( The issues has been discussed on the forums here.

Again, it pays to deploy and test Windows update to a lab or proving grounds environment that mimics your environment before you let it lose on your production environment. Be practical here and don’t let the desire for a perfect but non existent lab be the enemy of good, existing and usable one!

PS: Some people reported issues with KB4038774 as well, but that does not turn out to be the case. In any way these preview updates have no business being installed on production servers and I wish Microsoft would put them in a separate category so they are not detected / downloaded / approved with other production updates but allow for ease deployment /use in proving ground environments.

Hyper-V integration components 6.3.9600.18692

After the July 2017 round of patching we got a new version of the Hyper-V integration components on Windows Server 2012 R2. Yes, something that you no longer need to deal with manually since Windows Server 2016. But hey, my guess is that many of you are still taking care of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V deployments. I’m still taking care of a couple of Windows Server 2012 R2 Clusters, so don’t be shy now.

The newest version (at the time of writing) is 6.3.9600.18692 and 1st appeared in the June 27, 2017—KB4022720 (Preview of Monthly Rollup) update. It has since  been release in the July 11, 2017—KB4025336 (Monthly Rollup) update. You can follow up on the versions of the IC via this link Hyper-V Integration Services: List of Build Numbers


That means that you’ll need to upgrade the integration components for the VMs running on your Hyper-V (cluster) nodes after patching those.


And yes despite some issues we have seen with QA on updates in the past we still keep our environment very well up to date as when doing balanced risk management the benefits of a modern, well patched environment are very much there. Both for fixing bugs and mitigating security risks. Remember WannaCry ?

So my automation script has run against my Windows Server 2012 R2  Clusters. have you taken care of yours? I did adapt it to deal with the ever growing number of Windows Server 2016 VMs we see running, yes even on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V hosts.