Category Archives: WED Blog

Windows 10 LTSC Lifetime Gets Halved

OK, then. It must be something in the air. I blogged here about the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version of Windows 10 about two weeks ago. And today, I just saw — courtesy of the always vigilant Mary Jo Foley (MJF) at ZDNet — that MS is cutting LTSC support life from 10 to 5 years. This starts with the next release as explained in a Windows IT Pro blog post. (See below for a key snippet.) Fore sure, the big takeway is that Windows 10 LTSC lifetime gets halved, as of 21H2.

Why Windows 10 LTSC Lifetime Gets Halved?

The best answers for inevitable follow-on questions appear in a quote from the aforementioned blog post. Here ’tis:

Today we are announcing that the next version of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will be released in the second half (H2) of calendar year 2021. Windows 10 Client LTSC will change to a 5-year lifecycle, aligning with the changes to the next perpetual version of Office. This change addresses the needs of the same regulated and restricted scenarios and devices. Note that Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is maintaining the 10-year support lifecycle; this change is only being announced for Office LTSC and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC. You can read more about the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC announcement on the Windows IoT blog.

Two important take-aways:

1. Happily, this change synchronizes Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Office LTSC release timing.

2. Even better, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is NOT affected. It stays on a 10-year schedule.

Apparently MS understands full well that, once deployed, IoT devices are best left alone as long as possible. Happily, Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Office LTSC are synching up, because they’re likely used in tandem. Thus, both benefit from the same release cycle. In most cases, five years is in keeping with typical technology refresh cycles (which usually run 5-7 years).

Plus çe change…

The complete French aphorism translates “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Indeed, it seems that MS isn’t afraid to tweak long-term servicing options, to better meet customer needs. My guess: making customers upgrade LTSC Office without upgrading the OS  simultaneously could be less than helpful. Therefore, it makes sense that MS would synch things up where the two are likely used together.

On another front, MJF and I both see a bit of ‘suasion possibly at work in this change. Here’s what she says on this in her story:

Microsoft execs have tried to dissuade customers from using LTSC versions of Windows 10 as a way to avoid regular feature updates. (More than a few customers do this.) They’ve emphasized that the intent of LTSC releases is to support mission-critical systems that can’t or shouldn’t get regular updates.

In today’s blog post, officials said they also found that many customers who installed LTSC versions for their information worker desktops “found that they do not require the full 10-year lifecycle.”

Given that the typical refresh cycle is less than 10 years, I’d have so say “No kidding!” to her final observation. I concur!


Samsung Network Printer Goes Missing

OK, I admit it. I hadn’t set up DHCP reservations on my LAN. I could try to blame the Spectrum-supplied router that provides DHCP, but it’s really my fault. Thus, when I saw my Samsung ML-2581ND laser printer was offline yesterday morning, I immediately knew what was up. Generally, when the Samsung Network Printer goes missing on my LAN it’s because DHCP has assigned it a different IP address.

Look at the lead-in graphic for this story. There you’ll see that the device (Samsung ML-2850) is associated to Private IP It had previously been …127. And as soon as I changed that address selection on the Ports tab of Printer Properties, it started working again. So how did I figure out which port it had actually been assigned?

When Samsung Network Printer Goes Missing, Then What?

That’s when I call on one of Nir Sofer’s handy network utilities — namely NetBScanner. It quickly scans the local cable segment on its address range. In fact, the program is smart enough to figure that out on its own, after which it supplies a short list of all occupied addresses in that range. Here’s what I saw when I scanned my local wired Ethernet:

Samsung Network Printer Goes Missing.NetBscan-results

Notice the entry for …126 which also shows the device name SAMSUNGNWP. That’s what I want!

It turns out I already had defined this address in the Ports tab, so all I had to do was switch the device from the now-incorrect …127 entry to the current …126 entry and it was done. That meant unchecking the box next to the former, and checking the box next to the latter. Dead simple, quick and easy to fix. As long as you know how, that is…

The Right Fix is a DHCP Reservation

DHCP lets admins make static address assignments from the IP address pool it manages. That way, devices like servers and printers can keep the same address forever, and DHCP won’t move those assignments around, as it otherwise might. That shows up under the Advanced and DHCP tabs on my Askey RAC2V1K boundary device. I reserved the …126 address for the Samsung ML-2850 and also the …15 address for my Dell Color Laser CB745E. The latter is shown here:

Samsung Network Printer Goes Missing.DellCPres

By supplying the MAC address and the desired (reserved) IP address, you tell DHCP “hands off” for future assignments.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

So now, I’ve done what I should have done long ago, thanks to sharing my (prior) shame with you, dear readers. Live and learn!


21H1 Hits Beta Preview Channel

The lead-in graphic for this story shows some big news. That is, the Feature update to Windows 10, Version 21H1 is now available. This applies to Windows Insiders in the Beta Insider Preview channel, I hasten to add. And indeed, the foregoing item showed up on my Beta Channel test machine this morning. Hence the proclamation that 21H1 hits Beta Preview channel.

When 21H1 Hits Beta Preview Channel, Then What?

There are two kinds of implications for this occurrence. One is technical, and the other is a matter of historical analysis and implication. On the technical front, this means that the upcoming 21H1 is more or less locked down. That is, what we see in this preview release is also pretty much everything we’ll see in any upcoming public release. On the historical front, public releases typically have followed previews somewhere from 4 to 6 weeks after the preview appears. That puts initial public release of 21H1 somewhere between March 18 and April 1, by my reckoning.

Upon reflection, I kind of like an April 1 date (April Fool’s Day).

The Beta Channel Upgrade Experience

The screencap you see at the head of this story is the one that appeared on my Beta Channel test PC. For up-to-date Beta Channel PCs, this update is undoubtedly an enablement package that simply turns on features already present in the Insider Preview OS.

Why say “enablement package?” I say that because it completed the pre-reboot portion of the install in under two minutes on a Surface Pro 3 (vintage 2014) machine. The “Working on Updates” portion was pretty speedy, too (less than a minute). And the post-reboot drill took about 30 seconds (just a hair slower than a normal rebooot, in other words).  You won’t have to spend much time twiddling your thumbs while waiting for this “feature upgrade” to install!

I’m jazzed to understand that 21H1 is in the offing, and should be making its way into public release somewhat sooner than I’d expected. My congrats and thanks to the #WindowsInsiders team in general. Take a read of Brandon Leblanc’s Announcement post for more Insider info.


SetupDiag.exe Unveils Upgrade Gotchas

If you read this blog, you already know I finally got my Lenovo X380 Yoga upgraded to 21313 earlier this week. I’d been fighting a bugcheck error for the two prior Dev Channel upgrades before that. Along the way, I found myself  looking for diagnositic info about the failed upgrade.  A Microsoft tool SetupDiag.exe unveils upgrade gotchas, so I started using it. With this post, I want to shed more light on this nice little tool, based on recent experience.

How SetupDiag.exe Unveils Upgrade Gotchas

The program is a log analysis tool that focuses on Windows Setup log files. As the MS Docs page for SetupDiag says:

It attempts to parse these log files to determine the root cause of a failure to update or upgrade the computer to Windows 10. SetupDiag can be run on the computer that failed to update, or you can export logs from the computer to another location and run SetupDiag in offline mode.

That latter offline capability is nice, because it means you can boot an otherwise unbootable machine using rescue media. Once booted, you can then suck the files you need from the problem PC and analyze them on a working machine instead.

Note 1: consider bookmarking the already-quoted MS Docs page. It includes an always-current download link to the latest SetupDiag.exe version. (V160 is current as of Feb 17, 2021 only.)

Note 2: SetupDiag.exe requires .NET Framework 4.6 (or newer). See this WindowsCentral story for multiple .NETversion check methods  in PowerShell (3) or Cmd.exe (1).

Working with SetupDiag.exe

Starting with Windows 10 2004, SetupDiag.exe is included with Windows Setup on Windows 10 ISOs and other install images. Paraphrasing the MS Docs item, it says:

During the upgrade process, Windows Setup extracts its sources files to a directory named %SystemDrive%$Windows.~bt\Sources . With Windows 10, version 2004 and later, setupdiag.exe is also installed to this directory. If there is an issue with the upgrade, SetupDiag will automatically run to determine the cause of the failure.

Thus, so long as you don’t clean up after an attempted upgrade, you’ll find SetupDiag.exe in the afore-cited directory. Grab a copy and put it somewhere else, if you’d like.

Simply search your PC for SetupDiag.exe. Once found, you can run the program from Explorer, in PowerShell, at the Command Prompt, or via the run command.

Reading the Results

SetupDiag.exe writes its results in a file named SetupDiagResults.log. By default, it appeared in my download folder
I found it easily, because I use Voidtools Everything to locate files on my behalf. It’s how I got the details on my bugcheck error code. It reads 0X0000000A therein, but may appear as 0XA in discussions online. When I got the GSOD the error identified itself in the report window as IRQ_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL…

The lead-in graphic for this story shows the log file. The area of interest starts mid-way down in a line that reads: “Found crash information in rollback log.” That’s where the bugcheck code appears. Also, “nt” appears as the responsible driver. This, alas, is a built-in OS driver. Mere users cannot uninstall or update it. (That’s a Microsoft internal thing dontcha know?) It’s what convinced me that waiting for an upgrade from MS was the ultimate (and only) fix avaialble.



DISM Trumps SFC To Fix Hung Execution

Here’s an interesting observation straight from TenForums. Occasionally, the System File Checker (SFC) will hang when run. That is, it will grind forward to some percentage of completion, and then sit there indefinitely, making no further progress. If that happens to you on a Windows 10 PC, it’s OK to terminate the process (enter Ctrl-C at the command line or in PowerShell). In such cases, DISM trumps SFC to fix hung execution. Let me explain…

How DISM Trumps SFC to Fix Hung Execution

To unpack my assertion, please understand that when SFC finds an error it cannot fix, it more or less stops where it is. The Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool, aka DISM, can replace the files in Winodws 10’s cross-linked code repository WinSxS. By doing so, it will often fix the errors that SFC cannot surmount successfully.

The syntax for the specific DISM incantation is most often:

DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

Other variations for offline images, or that use something other than local files already known to Windows 10 are documented at MS Docs. There you’ll find a helpful article entitled “Repair a Windows Image” that take you through various elaborations that may sometimes prove necessary. Using the Source: attribute can get particularly interesting, especially if you’re working from a WIM or ESD file that is home to two or more Windows images.

If SFC Hangs, DISM /RestoreHealth Often Sets Things Right

As it did for the person who posted about SFC difficulties at TenForums, this approach will often (but not always) make things right. You can’t know until you try. But the thing to remember is that if SFC hangs or fails, your next step should be to try this specific DISM command.

In my personal experience, this has fixed half or more of such issues when they’ve come up. If the odds come up as they should, this approach will also work for you. Try it, and see!

[Note Added Feb 16 afternoon]:
Go Ahead: Skip SFC, Run DISM First

Members of the Insider Team responding to this post informed me that “On Win10 it’s recommended to run DISM first.” This is explained in an MS Support Note entitled “Use the System File Checker tool to repair missing or corrupted system files.” And sure enough, in reading over that article it informs readers “If you are running Windows 10 … first run the inbox Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool prior to running the System File Checker.” I’m not sure what “inbox” means in this context, but the order is clear and unmistakable: DISM first, SFC second.

I’ve been following typical advice from TenForums and conventional wisdom for so long, I neglected to read up on SFC in putting this story together. Live and learn: now I know to reverse the order and run DISM first. Hope this helps others, too!


Dev Channel Build 21313 Fixes Bugcheck Error

On February 2, I posted a tale of woe here. It explained that I wasn’t able to update my Lenovo X380 Yoga past 21296. Each attempt to upgrade to 21301 failed at around 50% complete after the first reboot. And although error messsages did vary once or twice most of the time it threw an IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL bugcheck error. None of my usual troubleshooting techniques afforded any relief, either. Then I got the word from a contact on the Insider Team: this was a known bug, and a fix should be coming “soon.” That’s why I’m pleased to report that Dev Channel Build 21313 fixes bugcheck error just described. It appears number one in the list of fixes shown in lead-in graphic, in fact.

Proof That Dev Channel Build 21313 Fixes Bugcheck Error

I tackled the upgrade on Friday afternoon, February 12. I could only hope for the best. But soon enough, my hopes were rewarded with a complete and successful installation. I always fret when I have to hang back from the leading edge of releases on any of my PCs. That’s because, as a Windows Insider, I take my commitment to keep up with new releases seriously. So again, I’m happy to be back in the high life again (with apologies to Stevie Winwood).

Proof Positive That Feedback Hub Is Working

When the Insider Team contacted me, they made it clear that (a) I was not alone in reporting this problem, and (b) that ongoing repair efforts were underway with a fix in their sights. My benefactor was very clear about asserting that a fix was coming, but might or might not make its way into the next Dev Channel update.

In fact, the Insider Team skipped its usual Wednesday Dev Channel flight on February 3. Then, it didn’t get a flight out last week until Friday, February 12. This is reportedly in the interests of quality and providing needed fixes. All I can say is that, as far as I’m concerned, those reports are on the money. They fixed what ailed my X380 and I’m glad to say “Thanks, Insider Team! Good work.”


Windows Release Health Gets MS Makeover

Thanks to the always-vigilant Mary Jo Foley, I learned yesterday that a key Windows dashboard has a new look. When I say Windows Release Health gets MS makeover, I mean the web page that reports on Windows 10 issues and conditions is snazzed up. It not only covers releases back to 1607. It also provides pointers galore. You’ll find links to information about releases, updates, OS deployment and the Windows lifecycle. You can see  this in the lead-in graphic for this story, in fact.

So What If Windows Release Health Gets MS Makeover?

MJF tweeted that this “new and improved” layout “looks nice” and brings “lots of Win 10 resources in one place.” I concur. This reworked page makes it easy to keep up with all mainained releases  from one dashboard. This one’s definitely worth bookmarking, and visiting regularly.

Here’s a summary of what’s in the page header shown in the graphic. I also list releases for which known issues, release notes, “What’s New” info, and so forth, are available:

Versions of Windows on this page include 20H2, 2004, 1909, 1809, 1803 and 1607.  That final item comes courtesy of LTSC, which uses this version as a still-current base.

MS did a nice job on this effort. Hats off for consolidating lots of useful info, and making it easy to find. Once again: bookmark this one!


Voidtools Everything Finds Files Fast

I know plenty of purists who won’t use third-party Windows tools if a Microsoft-supplied tool or facility will do the job. I am not such a person, and I’m happy to use third-party tools that either do things that Microsoft doesn’t do, or do as well as they do. Because Voidtools Everything finds files fast, it’s part of my standard Windows 10 desktop runtime. Oh, and it’s free, imposes little overhead, and — in my experience — runs faster and works better than Microsoft search. I usually get what I’m after before I’ve finished typing my input string.

Because Voidtools Everything Finds Files Fast, Use It!

The Everything FAQ provides a peachy overview of the tool, and explains its speed, behavior and workings. That said, Everything is primarily a name search tool for files and folders. It provides only limited visibility into file contents (that’s a search tool of a different stripe). The developers say that Everything takes about 1 second to index a fresh Windows install (about 120K files) and a minute to index 1M files. It really is fast, based on personal experience. It can also access files on FAT volumes, network storage, and flash devices (but minor configuration wiggles in Tools → Options → Folders are required, shown below).

FAT-derived volumes (like those on SD cards and UFDs) don’t show up by default in Everything. But they are easy to add.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Working Search for Everything It’s Worth

OK, bad pun, I know. But you can use boolean operators and wildcards in Everything much like you do at the Windows command line. Everything also supports advanced search for more complex search strings that also include the program’s content search functions (warning: these are slow because Everything does not index content in advance). For me the Advanced Search window provides the complex functions I need. Check it out:

Advanced search offers a variety of pattern definition and matching functions. Works like a champ, too!

If, like me, you have lots of storage and millions of files at your fingertips (right now, Everything says it’s indexed 1.4+M objects for me), Everything is handy and useful. If you try it out, you’ll probably end up keeping it around and using it regularly. I use it dozens of times a day, every day myself.


Likely Windows 10 LTSC Usage Scenarios

In yesterday’s post, I explained the role of the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). Indeed, it’s the most apt Windows 10 release for everyday use in most cases. In that discussion, the Long-Term Servicing Channel, aka, LTSC also came in for mention. I’ve just participated in an interesting TenForums thread on this topic. It raises the question of how to get an ISO for this channel, for which I helped find an answer. It also raised a broader question: LTSC, What is it, and when should it be used? This leads in turn to likely Windows 10 LTSC usage scenarios.

What Are Likely Windows 10 LTSC Usage Scenarios?

The preceding link is a 2018 Windows IT Pro Blog post from John Wilcox, He’s a “Windows-as-a-Service” evangelist at Microsoft. In that post he explains (and illustrates) one major LTSC use class:

devices purchased with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise pre-installed. Examples … include kiosks, medical equipment, and digital signs, i.e. use cases where devices are commonly treated as a whole system and are, therefore, “upgraded” by building and validating a new system, turning off the old device, and replacing it with a new, certified device.

He also goes on to explain for such systems that Microsoft

 designed the LTSC with these types of use cases in mind, offering the promise that we will support each LTSC release for 10 years–and that features, and functionality will not change over the course of that 10-year lifecycle.

Understanding the LTSC Release Cadence

MS deliberately slow-walks LTSC releases to the delivery stage. Wilcox explains that a new release is created on a three-year cycle. In fact, “each release contains all the new capabilities and support included in the Windows 10 features updates … released since the previous LTSC…” Thus, LTSC releases use a year to identify themselves. Recent examples include Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2016 and 2019.

Changing Times vs. No Change

Wilcox is pretty adamant that only those scenarios where no change is anticipated over a system’s useful life are truly suitable for LTSC. That means: no new peripherals, no new applications, no new devices and capabilities. Anything different is a strong argument to use the SAC instead. Embedded or dedicated systems often qualify, but little else fits that bill. End of story.

[Note Added February 10:] 2022 LTSC Preview

Good timing. Just saw a notice at TenForums that a new Preview Build 20292 for LTSC 2022 is out: get all the details at the Announcing item. Glad to see MS is still at work on what’s next for LTSC. Be sure to check it out, if this is in your wheelhouse.





Pondering Microsoft Viva Introduction

OK, I admit it. I’ve been biting my lip since last week, when MS briefed MVPs about this upcoming milestone. Now that they’ve made an official announcement, I can share my thoughts and reactions. (That’s also where the nifty graphic comes from.  I doubled it up for a better WordPress look.) All this goes to explain why today I’m pondering Microsoft Viva introduction. Potentially,  it means much for modern digital workers everywhere — including me (and you too, dear reader).

When Pondering Microsoft Viva Introduction, Don’t Get Carried Away

Q1: What is Microsoft Viva?
A1: It’s an “Employee Experience Platform,” aka EXP “built for the digital era.” It is designed to bring together “knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated employee experience…
Further, it “… builds on Microsoft Teams to empower people to be their best, from anywhere.” See the Official Announcement Blog.

Q2: Name the four faces of the Viva EXP?
A2:  They’re repeated in the next graphic. You’ve got Viva Insights, Viva Topics, Viva Learning, and Viva Connections.

Pondering Microsoft Viva Introduction and its four major components.
Pondering Microsoft Viva Introduction and its four major components, we see Insights, Topics, Learning, and Connections.

Of Insights, Topics, Learning and Connections

The emerging scoop on these Teams-based facilities goes  like this:

  • Viva Connections allows an organization’s leaders to shape in-house cultures and mindsets. It also invites employees to help build “an inclusive workplace.” Further, it “helps everyone succeed by giving people a curated, company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and other resources.” More at Viva Connections Blog.
  • Viva Insights wants to help people form better work habits, achieve improved work/life balance, and find focus. Using AI (I’m guessing of both global and local varieties) this tool offers  insights to individuals, managers and leaders. They’re described as “personalized and actionable insights that help everyone in an organization thrive.” Mo’ info at Viva Insights Blog.
  • Viva Learning creates a centralized learning hub within Microsoft Teams. There, people can “discover, share, assign and learn from content libraries available across the organization.” “[M]ake learning a natural part of your day” is the goal. MS says it “seamlessly connects into the day to day for our 115 million daily active users in Teams.” Futher deets from Viva Learning Blog.
  • Viva Topics uses AI to provide its users “with knowledge and expertise in Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 apps they use every day.” Based on Teams and Graph, it seeks to “deliver knowledge directly through the Teams users experience later this year.” At present it “has [already] reached general availability for our commercial customers.” Oh, and here’s the link to the Viva Topics Announcement (no blog just yet, I guess). This is the area that, as a Windows Insider MVP, interests me most.

Big Trouble in Little China

…is a delightfully awful 1986 throwaway movie starring Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall. It also humorously restates my mild concern, understanding now how much MS knows about us through Teams. And then, how much more we’re all going to know about ourselves and each other through that same nexus.

This could might be the best thing that’s ever happened to productivity workers. Or, it might be the first sign that SkyNet is getting itself together to subjugate wee, slow, puny humans. Should be fun to see which way this particular mop flops, eh?

Stay tuned! We’ve all got a lot to ponder as the next step in the man/machine interface takes another small step into the future. Personally, I’m jazzed…