Category Archives: Insider stuff

Store Gets Snipping Tools With Build 21354

Here’s an interesting tidbit to ponder. The Insider Dev Channel 21354 announcement included the information shown in this story’s lead-in graphic. To recap: it says that Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch have been packaged together. Going forward, they will now get updates through the MS Store. Hence my title: Store Gets Snipping Tools with Build 31354.

Sure enough: I visited the Store on one of my Dev Channel test PCs after the upgrade. As you can see in the preceding image, Snip & Sketch now appears there. (If you check update history in the Store, you’ll see it’s getting updates via the Store now, too.)

If Store Gets Snipping Tools with Build 21354, Where’s the Other One?

There’s a teeny-tiny little gotcha in this change worth noting.  It appears in italics in the snippet from the 21354 Announcement up above. Because it’s partially obscured, I repeat that text here:

Insiders who previously did not have Snip & Sketch installed will see Snipping Tool removed after updating to this build and will have to  go and install Snip & Sketch from the Store to get it back.

Because the two tools are now conjoined and Snipping Tool is not listed independently, you MUST grab and install Snip & Sketch to continue using either or both of them. This applies universally, but only affects users who hadn’t already installed Snip & Sketch.

As a determined and far-ranging Insider I installed Snip & Sketch as soon as it was made public in October 2018. Thus, a word of warning. Those who reach for Snipping Tool out of habit and haven’t yet installed Snip & Sketch must now do so, to keep Snipping Tool available. Of course, this applies to Dev Channel builds only.

I’d long thought MS would simply retire Snipping Tool and forcibly move users to Snip & Sketch. Looks like they’ve decided to keep them both alive, but to maintain them through Snip & Sketch in the Windows Store. That’s what makes this interesting and intriguing. Check it out!


Losing Win10 A/B Testing Wagers

I don’t know why this keeps happening to me. But it seems like whenever I learn that MS is A/B testing a new feature or function in an Insider Preview build, my test machines miss out. I don’t know how MS selects who gets and who misses such options, but I do hate losing Win10 A/B testing wagers. Case in point: the recent News & Interests notification area item.

What Is A/B Testing Anyway?

A/B testing started as a way to check web page designs. In that world, half of visitors see one version of a page, and half see the other. The developers analyze how the versions do, and pick the one that does the best.

In general, A/B testing means that half of a population get to see and interact with a feature, while the other half do not. That said, workarounds may be possible. Thus, for example, WinAero provided enable/disable batch files to turn the feature on and off in Builds 21286 (Dev Channel) early in January.

I just noticed that after the latest upgrade to build 21354, News & Interests no longer appears in my notification area. Indeed, the WinAero method still works to turn it off or on, but my plaint is that I keep coming up on the “have-not” side of such A/B tests, be that either A or B.

What Losing Win10 A/B Testing Wagers Means

To me, not getting to see or interact with an A/B feature means missing out on something new and potentially interesting or valuable. In the case of News & Interests, it means a minor inconvenience to be sure. Even so, I’d prefer to have the opportunity to interact with and provide feedback on new features to better do my job as a Windows Insider.

If I could ask the Insider Team for a favor, I’d ask them to build an “opt-in” apparatus when A/B features come out. Rather that purely random selection of who gets and who misses the A/B feature, it would be nice to have some way to request a download or a pre-update opt-in.

Why do I ask for this? Because invariably all of my test machines and VMs are denied A/B features when I come up a loser. I would like to test everything I can, especially new features, if not on all machines, then at least some of them. Is that too much to ask?

[Note on lead-in graphic for this story: I cheerfully confess I grabbed and cropped a screencap from about this feature from a January 6 story. I can’t make a working copy of this details pane on my blocked-out test machines. Thanks, Paul!]


When WU Repairs Fail Try UUPDump

I’ve got two test machines on the Beta Channel release right now. The older of the pair — a 2014 vintage Surface Pro 3 — is stuck on KB5000842 and keeps throwing install errors. Others reporting into the TenForums thread on this update have had success using the terrific UUPdump tool to build a customized image to install 19043.906. So that’s what I’m trying, too. In general, my strategy is “When WU repairs fail try UUPDump” next anyway. Glad to see others use that strategy, too.

When WU Repairs Fail Try UUPDump.WUerror

A couple of failures, including a complete WU reset, means it’s time to change update strategies.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Why Say: When WU Repairs Fail Try UUPDump?

The update installs fail each time with an error code of 0x800F081F. This is interesting, and a bit strange, because the error is often associated with the Windows Update Assistant nowhere present in this situation. It can also pop up when items are missing from the download packages that WU delivers to the desktop.

That latter reason explains why a switchover to UUPDump makes sense. It grabs the ISO-based image for the base OS version from MS servers  (19043 aka 21H1 in this case). Then, it uses DISM to apply all newer updates packages up to and including the problematic KB5000842 item that’s throwing the error here. It’s perfectly safe because it uses only Microsoft Servers as the source for its OS and update files.

Building the 19043.906 ISO File

Running UUPDump to build an ISO for a patched OS takes some time because of the many and various steps involved. For the SP3 PC, it took over an hour before it got stuck mounting the image for Build 19041.1. That’s when I realized it makes sense to run UUPdump batch files on the fastest PC around.

Thus, I ran the same job on my Lenovo X1 Extreme, with its 6-core i7-8850H CPU. Given more threads and a faster CPU and much faster Samsung OEM PCIe x3 SSDs, it ran noticeably faster, though the KB5000842 cab file update still took 5 minutes to complete (click “view image” inside the lead-in graphic for this story). The whole thing still took 35 minutes from start to finish.

And it went that fast only because we have fast (nominal GbE, actual 900 Mbps or so) Internet service here at Chez Tittel. What takes the real time, however, is bringing the windows image (.wim) file up from base level Build 19043.844 to the current/highest level Build 19043.906. This takes several steps, each one involving mounting the image, adding packages, the dismounting the image, and continuing forward. There’s some mucking around with a WinRE.wim file along the way, too.

Performing the In-Place Repair Install

This is the easy part: mount the image, run setup.exe and let the installer do its thing. This takes a while, too — considerably longer than applying the update would (checking the PC, agreeing to the EULA, checking for updates,  and so forth; then finally into OS installation). This entire process took another hour or so to complete. But here’s the end result, straight from winver.exe:

When WU Repairs Fail Try

All’s well that ends well: here’s Build info from the upgraded SP3, right where I want it to be

More About UUPDump

I’ve written about UUPDump for numerous other sites, including TechTarget and Win10.Guru, both for my Windows Enterprise Desktop blog. Here are some links, if you’d like to learn more:

  1. UUPDump Invaluable Resource (TechTarget)
  2. A Peek Inside UUPDump (Win10.Guru) includes a brief interview with its developer who goes by the handle “Whatever”
  3. UUPDump Outdoes Windows Update (Win10.Guru)



Build 21343 File Explorer Makeover

On March 24, MS released Build 21343 to Dev Channel Insiders. I immediately heard and saw that File Explorer shows a new look, with modern iconography and a clean, spare layout. But I really didn’t appreciate how attractive things were until I produced the screencap for the lead-in graphic.  While there’s no disputing Build 21343 File Explorer Makeover sounds nice, it’s amazing to experience first hand.

Indeed, Build 21343 File Explorer Makeover Is Real

The top-line toolbar gets a new set of icons that include new UI elements seen elsewhere. For example, the Settings icon at middle top is spiffed up. It now matches the one used in the Start Menu and elsewhere in Dev Channel and other Windows 10 versions. The default folders (formerly known as Libraries) get compelling new icons. Compare them to the folder icons from Build 19042.868 on my production PC. Note that the seldom-used 3D Objects folder — I’ve never used it once myself — also disappears from view.

Build 21343 File Explorer Makeover.oldfoldericons

The old Folder icons (shown preceding) seem flat, monochromatic, and boring compared to the new ones up top.
[Click item for full-sized view.]

Bigger, Bolder Icons Offer More Visual Impact

Even the Network view in File Explorer gets a more interesting and appealing look and feel, as the next screenshot shows quite nicely. Up until now I’d been inclined to take breathless hype surrounding the upcoming “Sun Valley” Windows 10 redesign with a grain or two of salt. Now, seeing the way that File Explorer pops with just a bit of that fairy dust applied, I’m rethinking my enthusiasm.

There may indeed be something interesting and — as Panos Panay put it for upcoming Windows 10 changes at the recent Ignite conference — “exciting” going on here. We still have no choice but to wait and see how future Dev Channel releases play this out. But I am now inclined to be more curious and to look forward more positively for what may be coming next. We’ll see!

Build 21343 File Explorer Makeover.networkicons

The New Network icons also offer more pop and pizazz.
[Click item for full-sized view.]


21H1 Attains Commercial Pre-Release Validation

A recent Windows IT Pro Blog post title reads “Windows 10, version 21H1 for commercial pre-release validation.” That means that users can update selected PCs to 21H1 using the enablement package to see what it’s like. The post raises interesting questions. “Do you want to see how quickly devices update from version 2004 or 20H2 to 21H1, and how little downtime is involved? Now you can!” And that dear readers is what 21H1 attains commercial pre-release validation means. Simply put: Check it out!

What If 21H1 Attains Commercial Pre-Release Validation?

The fine print reveals it’s still necessary that “select PCs” enroll in the Insider Preview program to partake of 21H1. Indeed, MS announced on February 17 the enablement package would go to Beta Channel Insiders. I’ve been running it on my Surface Pro 3 since then, to very good effect. The whole thing took under 5 minutes on that 2014-vintage PC (i7-4650U CPU, 8 GB RAM, Samsung 256 GB OEM mSATA SSD) from initial download, through installation, and back to the desktop. It ought to go faster on newer, more capable hardware.

Another Harbinger of GA

Of course, GA stands for “General Availability.” That’s when MS starts public release of a new Windows 10 version through official channels. If “commercial pre-release” is happening now, GA won’t be too far behind. This hasn’t always been part of the MS release sequence, but it is a definite signal that 21H1 is coming soon. In fact, I think it’s bound to appear within the next 30 days. I’m guessing Patch Tuesday, April 13 or somewhere thereabouts, is quite likely.

Typically, business users tend to follow one or two versions behind the leading edge. So perhaps this is really a signal they should be planning upgrades to 2004 (on the trailing edge) or 20H2 (on the leading one)? As with so much else on the Internet, things vary wildly from one organization to the next. I still keep seeing the screens at my optometrist’s office, with the Windows 7 lock screen on cheerful display…


Interesting Partial 21H1 Component Store Cleanup

I’m running the Beta Channel Insider Preview on my Surface Pro 3. I just bumped it to Build 19043.899 thanks to KB5000842. Out of curiosity, I then ran the DISM commands to analyze and clean up the component store as shown in the lead-in graphic for this story. A final analyze shows interesting partial 21H1 component store cleanup occurred. Let me explain…

What Does Interesting Partial 21H1 Component Store Cleanup Mean?

If you take a look at some detail from the lead-in graphic then check the screencap below, you’ll see they show 7 reclaimable packages before clean-up. After cleanup, 2 reclaimable packages still remain behind.

Notice that 2 reclaimable packages persist, event after running the cleanup option.

Reclaimable packages persist after dism cleanup for one of two reasons AFAIK:
1. At some point, the user ran the /resetbase parameter in an earlier dism cleanup.
2. Something odd or interesting is going on in the component store, and dism can’t clean up one or more packages (in this case, two).

I don’t use /resetbase on test machines as a matter of principle. So something interesting and odd is going on here.

Another Try Produces No Change

Having seen this before on other Insider Previews (and production Windows 10 versions), I had an inkling of what would happen. I repeated the cleanup and got the same results: 2 reclaimable packages still show. In my experience, this means they’re “stuck” in the component store. What I don’t know is if taking the image offline and trying again would make any difference. What I do know is that this won’t change until Microsoft finalizes the 21H1 release for general availability (or issues a specifically targeted fix).

Trading on my connections with the Insider Team at MS, I’ll be letting them know about this curious phenomenon. We’ll see if anything changes as a result. My best guess is that this gets a cleanup as part of the final release work sometime in the next 2-3 weeks. That said, only time will tell. Stay tuned!


Insider Preview 19043 ISO Download Available

IMO, it’s always a good idea to have ISO files for Window 10 images available. That’s why I jumped on a chance to download the ISO file for Build 19043 from the Windows Insider Preview Downloads page. The 64-bit version of the file is 5,330,642 KB in size. On my GbE (nominal: actual around 940 Mbps) Internet link, it took about 5 minutes to download. Given Insider Preview 19043 ISO download available, you might want to grab one, too.

When Insider Preview 19043 ISO Download Available, Get one!

To access this page — and get the download — you must provide a valid Windows Insider MS account. Use it to login to the page. Once validated, navigate to the “Select Edition” heading, then choose the version of 19043 you wish to download. For the vast majority of readers, that will be the 64-bit edition.

In fact, according to PassMark Software’s latest (March 11) OS Marketshare survey, 0.45% of users run Windows 10 32-bit and 96.34% of users run 64-bit. That means 45 users in 10,000 run 32-bit whereas 9,634 of the rest run 64-bit. That is a vast majority, indeed!

More About the 19043 ISO

Interestingly, the 19043 ISO is 5,330, 642 KB (5.083 GB) in size. That means it’s too big to reside in a single FAT32 file (max size: 4 GB). To my mind, that makes for another good argument to use Ventoy (which puts ISOs into an NFTS volume) instead of having to split a too-big ISO into multiple parts to store on a bootable FAT32 partition.

I just checked, and a new Ventoy release appeared on March 6. Thus, I took the opportunity to upgrade my 256 GB Ventoy drive. I just copied this new ISO to it, too. It’s now sharing that space with 27 other Windows 10 (and other) ISO files. Good stuff!

Here’s a shout-out to Sergey Tkachenko at, who brought the ISO’s availability and location to my attention.


Might Wonky WU Presage Hardware Obsolescence

OK, then. Here’s an interesting story. After updating my 2012 vintage Lenovo X220 Tablet to Build 21327.1010 the Windows Update (WU) UI starting misbehaving. I’ve reported it to the Feedback Hub, with a screen recording to show what happens. This experience has me asking myself: might wonky WU presage hardware obsolescence?

Why Might Wonky WU Presage Hardware Obsolescence?

Built in 2012 and purchased in 2013 for a book on Windows 8, this system runs a Sandy Bridge CPU. It’s so old, it doesn’t support USB 3.0 natively (though I do have a plug-in Express Card that adds such capability). Simply put, the whole situation has me wondering if this old laptop is finally aging out of usefulness. I retired the companion system — a same vintage, same CPU T420 laptop — late last year because it was flaking out too often for everyday testing. Until this happened, the X220 Tablet remained a paragon of Windows support.

Here’s a short video (24 seconds) that shows very little, but enough for me to describe what’s wonky.

Normally, when you click the “Check for updates” button, the display changes to “Checking for updates” while the activity balls flow from left to right (and repeat until the check is complete). Next, if updates are available, the display reads “Updates available” while it installs them. When it’s done the display changes to “You’re up to date” with a timestamp to match. That final status info serves as the lead-in graphic for this story, in fact.

What Did Wonky WU Do Instead?

As you can see by playing the video, none of those display changes occur. I know the update is working because it grabbed and installed a Defender update when I tried it for the first time and that update shows under “Definition Updates” in Update History. That said, the usual animations (or status changes) that show WU is working are invisible on this PC. All that stuff works fine on my 2018 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga (which has a Kaby Lake/7th Gen CPU).

Having reported the issue to MS via Feedback Hub, all I can do now is wait to see if it gets fixed. If it becomes a “new normal,” I may need to start retirement planning for my hitherto unflappable and unshakeable X220 Tablet. Sigh. That’s the way things go sometimes, here in Windows-World.

Note Added March 11, 2021

With the upgrade to Dev Channel Build 21332.1000, WU returned to “normal behavior.” But I did have to return to Advanced Sharing Settings/All Networks in the Network and Sharing Center. There, I had to turn off password protected sharing and turn on Public folder sharing. After a reboot,  RDP into the X220 Tablet worked again. This has been an on-again/off-again issue on this laptop for years. (A) it’s easily fixed locally, and (B) it seems to be a low-priority item for MS.

Finalley here’s a shout-out to Eddie Leonard (@DJ+EddieL). He told me the WU item was a known problem and would be fixed with the next build. He was spot-on, and I’m grateful.


Key Terms EKB 21h1 Reveal Next Win10 Release Coming Closer

I have to hand it to the team at Bleeping Computer, especially Lawrence Abrams. He’s done a neat and convincing bit of filesystem forensics. It shows that recent Beta Channel updates set the stage for the upcoming 21H1 Windows 10 release. In fact, he shows that key terms EKB 21h1 reveal next Win10 release coming closer to fruition. That inspired the File Explorer screencap for this story’s lead-in graphic.

Finding Key Terms EKB 21h1 Reveal Next Win10 Release Coming Closer

The string “21H1” (or “21h1” as it mostly appears in filenames) stands for the next upcoming Windows 10 release. EKB, as I learned, is the MS abbreviation for enablement package. This is a pre-staging technique for minor Windows 10 upgrades. It actually relies on updates installed prior to the official enablement of the “next upgrade” (21H1 in this case) that simply get turned on. And indeed, it’s the enablement package (EKB) that does the turning on bit.

The names of the files shown in the lead-in graphic reside in the
folder on Windows PCs running the Insider Preview Beta Channel release. To find these files, the Beta Channel image must be at Build 1904*.789 or higher. As it happens, I took the lead-in screencap on a PC running Build 19042.844

Terms of interest in the list involve:

  • Windows UpdateTargeting
  • Windows Product Data
  • EKB Package
  • EKB Wrapper Package

All of these terms identify current and upcoming versions of Windows 10, including the current version and build and its status, and the contents and handling of any current or upcoming enablement package (EKB). Most discussion I read about dates for 21H1 still suggest “May or June” as the GA date for this upcoming and minor Windows 10 feature upgrade. I see no reason to disagree with those assessments. And indeed Microsoft’s own 21H1 announcement post  doesn’t say much more than only minor changes to Windows 10 will show up when the release goes public.

We’ll just have to wait and see when 21H1 gets the nod from the Insider Team, and makes a public debut through Windows Update. Whenever that happens, though, it’s pretty clear that 21H2 is when the big changes for this year will hit Windows 10. Stay tuned!




New Windows Admin Center Makes Ignite Debut

The always-popular Windows Server management tool gets an update to version 2103 just in time for Ignite 2021. In fact, you can download yourself a new copy right away from Akamai: But why should you care that a new Windows Admin Center makes Ignite debut? Keep reading, and I’ll give some reasons…

Who Cares if New Windows Admin Center Makes Ignite Debut

If you work in or around Windows environments as an admin, you should! Happily, the list of updates and enhancements to WAC (Windows Admin Center) underscores this:

  • The tool now supports IoT Edge for Linux on Windows.
  • WAC is available in preview as an Azure-based portal application.
  • Indeed, the tool itself now handles in-app updates, so it can update itself automatically, and do likewise add-ins and third-party extensions
  • Gateway proxy support is now enabled in the tool’s Proxy tab
  • Privacy settings are now easily accessible in the Diagnostic & Feedback tab (users can limit what is sent to MS)
  • Different tools within WAC can appear in individual pop-out windows.
  • Events have been substantially reworked and shows that MS is spending some development cycles on the Event Viewer. (Currently, an incomplete, preview version is available: curious users must enable/disable this facility using a UI toggle in WAC).
  • The VM tool is expanded and enhanced to boost integration services, provide editable columns and groups, and gets a new ability to edit virtual switches when making VM moves.
  • The Azure Stack HCI gets some updates, too.  Most notably,  for cluster deployment and for OEM snap-ins to let IT pros deploy and use 3rd-party extensions more quickly and easily.
  • Partners are jumping on the WAC bandwagon. These include Dell EMC OpenManager (v2.0), Lenovo XClarity Integrator, and Data ON Must Pro, among others. Indeed, this promises to be an active aftermarket.

In other words, there’s a lot of new stuff showing up in WAC. Those who already use the tool will find a lot to like. Those just getting to know the tool will find a lot to learn and understand.

WAC Resources

Video: What’s New in WAC 2103 (from Ignite)
Announcement: WAC 2103 Now Generally Available (the announcement is laden with links to more video, documentation, and training materials).
MS Docs: Windows Admin Center Overview

Actually, there’s plenty of helpful stuff on WAC online for admins. To be sure, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Still need convincing? Run this Google Search: Windows Admin Center.