Category Archives: Windows 10

Dev Home Now Creates VMs

A new release of the Dev Home (Preview) toolbox hit the streets on Tuesday, April 23 (v0.13). I updated but didn’t really pay much attention. Then, this morning I learned something noteworthy from WindowsLatest — namely, that you can now use Dev Home (DH) to set up and manage Windows VMs including Hyper-V instances. Because I’m working on a “How-to” story right now on such VMs, this definitely caught my eye. And indeed, on a test PC, I see strong evidence that Dev Home now creates VMs. Not too much effort involved, either…

If Dev Home Now Creates VMs, Then What?

It took me a while to get where I needed to go with setting the right environment toggles. Eventually, I settled on the first three (Environments Creation, Environments Management, and Environments Configuration) and turned all three on. Then, I had to close and re-open Dev Home to gain the ability to actually use the “Create environment” button.  It’s hiding in the upper right corner of the lead-in image; you can see it up there if you check.

At that point you can give your environment a name (I called it DHWin11 to indicate I was using Dev Home to build a new test Windows 11 VM in Hyper-V). Then you pick the reference image from which it gets built. I chose the Windows 11 Development Environment option that Dev Home supplied. I’m sure I could have navigated to another ISO of my choosing.

Take a While, But Gets Things Right…

It took over 15 minutes for the setup, download, and install processes to get far enough along to do something. But gosh, I was able to get into the Hyper-V window to fire things off, then get to the desktop with no hiccups or gotchas along the way inside RDP. Things don’t work that well using Hyper-V Manager.

I found myself running a 22H2 Windows 11 instance labeled “Windows 11 Enterprise Evaluation” for Build 22621.3447. I know from prior experience this is a 30-day eval or thereabouts. Indeed, Copilot tells me it expires on June 19, 2024. But gosh, this makes standing up and using a plain-vanilla Hyper-V VM as easy as it’s ever been in my personal experience.

Now, I need to do it again, and use an image of my own choosing. That should be interesting! Stay tuned, I’ll write about this soon. Meanwhile, you can see that VM running on my P16 test PC as shown in an RDP window for the whole shebang.

Wow! That was almost TOO EASY. I must say, I’m impressed. Need more time and exploration to really formulate a more useful opinion, though. First look is a doozy, though.


Teams Versions Running Side-by-Side

Gosh, it gets confusing sometimes. But it could be mostly a Windows 10 vs Windows 11 thing. On Windows 10 I find myself with multiple Teams versions running side-by-side. That is: Teams (work or school) vs. Teams Classic. The lead-in graphic shows their taskbar icons serious magnified in that order (Modern: left; Classic: right). It’s interesting and a little vexing from time to time. Fortunately, MS will be retiring Teams Classic sometime later this year (no earlier than July 1, 2024 says Copilot).

Issues with Teams Versions Running Side-by-Side

I know I’m in the minority but I don’t have a current, actively administered MSA that’s tied to an AD, Azure AD, or Entra ID based environment. These are the MSAs that work best and most reliably with the new version of Teams (see about info from my ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation, running production Windows 11).

Teams Versions Running Side-by-Side.about-new

The latest version from my Windows 11 production PC (Build 22635.3430)

Here’s what Teams Classic tells me about itself (through an unusually tortuous path to get to its “About” info).

The latest Classic Teams from Windows 10 (Build 19045.4291)

I sometimes have trouble using the new Teams version as an app, though it does work consistently and reliably on the Web. But too often — especially in view of impending retirement — Teams Classic wants to run when I really want to use the new version. MS says the Classic version is supposed to uninstall automatically after switching over to the new version. So far, it’s not going anywhere…

I have to pay close attention to the icons to see which one I’m using at any given moment. Thus I’ve learned to distinguish the white background and blue symbol for new versus the blue background and white “T” for classic as a quick differentiator. Man, will I be glad when classic Teams finally retires into obscurity. But hey, that’s the way things go here in Windows-World from time to time where more versions of Teams may not be better but are seemingly inescapable in Windows 10. Sigh.


Recent Windows 10 Uncommonly Reliable

It’s my habit to drop in on the built-in Reliability Monitor tool in Windows from time to time. That gives me a rough and ready read on how well — or badly — the focus system is doing. I usually launch this tool by typing “Reli” into the search box, but you can launch it from the Run box or the command line by typing perfmon /rel. If you examine recent history from my production PC, it should be obvious why I  say “Recent Windows 10 uncommonly reliable.” In other words, nothing to see here, folks. That’s good!

Fingers Crossed: Recent Windows 10 Uncommonly Reliable

Noticing that things are going smoothly is one thing. Talking about it — and risking some kind of jinx — is entirely another. So I’m tempting fate here, but I must also observe that:

  • I actively run the target system at least 9 hours a day (weekdays) and at least 6 hours on off days
  • I’m not hesitant about installing or changing stuff around as I’m researching software, tools, scripting, and OS configurations
  • I take a complete image backup at 9 AM every morning (7 days a week) so I’m always prepared to restore same should I shoot myself (or my PC) in the foot
  • It’s been a busy 18 days since my last critical error on March 28. I replaced the CyberPower UPS software that day because the old version kept crashing. The replacement has been quiet since.

Gosh, it’s nice to see my trusty old (closing in on 8 years: i7-6700 Skylake, Z170 mobo, 32 GB RAM, NVIDIA RTX 3070Ti GPU) desktop still chugging along so well. I know I’ll need to replace it soon, but I feel little pressure or need to do so immediately, in the face of these recent Relimon results. Jinx factor aside, that is…

Alas, as I know only too well, this could change in a moment. Good thing I’ve got a 2021 vintage B550 mobo with 5800X Ryzen CPU, 64 GB RAM, and so forth, already put together and ready to drop in should the need arise. But I still don’t feel a pressing need to migrate just yet. Stay tuned…that will no doubt change!


Dropbox Drops Gentle Reminder: RTFM

I have to laugh. I’ve been trying to get a beta version of Dropbox installed on my Windows 10 production desktop this morning. Trying, and failing, with nothing to show in Reliability Monitor, either. Then I decided to read the whole article about the new beta, which appeared on MSPowerUser on April 1 (no joke, alas). In a manner of speaking, Dropbox drops gentle reminder RTFM (read the fabulous manual).

Here’s what it says:

Note: Windows 10 users will need to uninstall earlier Dropbox desktop applications before installing the updated version to ensure optimal performance.

Guess what I didn’t do before trying the install? You got it in one: I did not first remove the old version before overlaying the new one. Sigh.

Heeding When Dropbox Drops Gentle Reminder: RTFM

Creature of habit that I am, I used winget uninstall Dropbox.Dropbox to remove the old version. Worked like a charm. Then I re-tried the Dropbox 196.3.6883 Offline Installer.x64.exe installer file. It too, then did its thing. And it took its sweet time, too.

But when all was said and done Dropbox came up just fine in Windows 10. It was smart enough to keep the old version’s login data, too, so I was able to get in and start working just like the old version. But by looking at the program’s about info I can see I’m running this latest (beta) version. Problem solved. Like I said: RTFM.

It never hurts to know precisely what you’re doing, before you start doing it. Otherwise, like me sometimes, you’ll have to figure it out as you lurch from one step to the next. Sigh again…


Windows 10 Lockscreen Follies

OK, it may be another case of: gradual rollout, I’m on the tailing end. Or it may be something is misbehaving. I’m trying out the new Lock Screen behaviors in Windows 10 Build 19045.4239. I can see the weather bug, and I can turn on the “other lock screen apps” but none of them show up. Right now, I’m updating a VM on another PC so I can take screencaps to show what’s happening. Hence my assertion I’m engaging in Windows 10 lockscreen follies. Fun, actually!

What Windows 10 Lockscreen Follies Tell Me…

I’m a great believer in trying out and observing new stuff as it shows up in Windows. I’ve learned that I don’t understand things anywhere near as well when reading about them, as I do when installing or setting them up, then using them. There’s something about the actual experience that improves my apprehension and comprehension. Plus, I like to tinker with stuff (to the point where I’ll try to break things so I can learn how to fix them).

Once I confirmed I was indeed running 19045.4239 I started playing with the lock screen settings. Again, I can see the background coming from Spotbright, and the weather info. And again, I cannot see status from the other apps I’ve chosen for display. Homer Simpson moment hits: I bet they have to be RUNNING to show something. …goes off to try … doesn’t seem to help (nor does placing the open app window on my #1 screen, which also might be a factor).

Trailing Behind the Gradual Rollout…Again

Looks like I’ve got all the controls up and going, but they’re not doing anything. But about “more content” on the lockscreen, the announcement says “This feature might not be available to all users because it will roll out gradually.” Based on my nearly unbroken record in avoiding the front ranks during such times, I’m guessing it will make its way to my lockscreens later, rather than sooner!

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted. The Lord only knows why, but I’m starting to like the idea of a status-filled lockscreen…




MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle

Here’s a good one, right from my Windows 10 desktop this morning. As per usual practice, I ran winget upgrade –all –include-unknown to see what updates might be available after the weekend.  I promptly ran into a Catch-22 as you can see in the lead-in screencap. I call it an MS Edge 1220.2365.106 Winget Upgrade puzzle, because the package manager finds an upgrade for Edge that I can’t figure out how to install. Let me explain…

What’s the MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle?

In a nutshell, here’s what the lead-in graphic depicts (there’s more, as you will shortly see in the following list of items):

1. Winget reports that an upgrade for Edge from version 122.0.2635.92 to …106 (first three groups of digits stay the same) is available.

2. Winget upgrade –all –include-unknown fails because “install technology of the newer version is different…” I’ve definitely seen this before. Note the error message advises an uninstall/reinstall maneuver to fix things.

3.  Winget uninstall Microsoft.Edge fails with exit code 93

4. An attempt to force the uninstall fails with the same exit code

5. A visit to Settings > Apps > All installed apps offers no uninstall option for Edge. Indeed, it’s pretty well known in Windows circles that Edge is notoriously tricky to uninstall. See, for example. this github “Remove-MS-Edge” script…

When in Doubt, Report to the Winget Team…

I have to believe this is a slight hiccup on the Winget team’s part. From long experience in working with the program daily since it was introduced at the end of June, 2020, I know that (a) Catch-22s sometimes pop up and (b) they usually get fixed fairly soon after they appear. My best guess is that this particular instance will get handled in the next few days.

For my part, I’m sending a link to this blog post to Demitrius Nelon, the leader of the Winget team via Twitter. This usually provokes immediate and corrective action. Let’s see what happens…

Stay tuned! Note: FWIW, Windows 11 versions are not subject to this gotcha. AFAICT this is a Windows 10 thing only. I even tried a repair install for Edge through its “All installed apps” entry and that didn’t help, either.  Indeed, a version check on the 122.0.2365.92 version comes back to report “all’s well”:

Note Added March 26: Gone!

Edge is still running as version 122.0.2365.92. But Winget is no longer reporting that it needs to upgrade it to 122.0.2635.106. Indeed, Winget show Microsoft.Edge now reports the latter as the current version, in need of no upgrade at all. Thanks Demetrius and team: problem solved!


NotePad Gets Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

I already know better, but couldn’t help but get excited yesterday. I read the “Spellcheck in Notepad…” MS announcement with care.  TLDR version: “Notepad gets gradual spellcheck rollout in the Canary Channel.” Fingers crossed, I checked Notepad settings. I hoped I might snap my unbroken streak and would see the new stuff.

You can see what this  feature looks like in the lead in graphic, where the spellchecker recognizes “lectrons” as a misspelling of “electrons” (that graphic comes straight from the MS announcement).

Left Behind, as NotePad Gets
Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

If you are included in the first batch of spellcheck and auto-correct endowed Notepad users, you’ll find those controls in Notepad settings. They occur beneath the “Opening Notepad” heading. The new heading reads “Spelling” and includes two toggles: first, “Spell check,” and second “Autocorrect.” By default ,Notepad turns both off when you edit a file whose type indicates some kind of markup or programming language is in use. Thus,  it might be something like .html, .xml. .py, .cs, .cpp,  .java, or .js  (IDs for the most frequently-occurring such file extensions).

Now my question is: how long do I have to wait to gain entry into the cohort that’s testing these capabilities? We’ll see. In a further triumph of hope over experience, I just checked my second Canary Channel test PC (it’s downloading and updating Notepad right now via the MS Store . . .).  No dice there, either. Stay tuned: I’m still waiting . . .


Restore Point Pros & Cons

By default, Windows 10 and 11 both turn on restore points (RPs). These may be used to return an OS environment back to a prior state. The OS typically shoots one RP daily, and takes one as it starts the WU process. In addition, app developers may include taking an RP snapshot early on during their own install processes. All this said, there are plenty of Restore Point pros & cons.

What Are Restore Point Pros & Cons?

These days you reach Restore Points through the System Protection tab in the System Properties window in Control Panel. Interestingly enough, you have to navigate through Settings > System to get there. Once you find what you’re looking for (see lead-in screencaps) you can enable or disable RPs, and also allocate a maximum percentage of the system/boot disk which these system snapshots can occupy.

RP Pros

RP’s positives include the following:

  • Convenience and ease of use: you can create an RP manually with a few mouse clicks, and it takes little time to complete one. It’s also fairly easy to revert to a Restore Point using either Windows built-in tools or one of my faves (it’s an oldie, but a goodie): System Restore Explorer. It tool 33 seconds to create one on my i7Skylake desktop, and 1:05 to restore same on that PC.
  • Provides a simple layer of system protection: can easily revert Windows to undo update, app or application, and driver changes. This is faster — but more limited in scope — than even the fastest image backup restore. As a knock-on effect: this can also undo software or library conflicts (after adding an app or application, or a new .NET version, or something else that’s similar).
  • Some cleanup when removing new software: This might be somewhere between a pro and a con.  Restoring an RP does result in removal of executable files and dlls added when installing apps. But shortcuts, preferences, and other files (including home folders — e.g. inside C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86)) remain intact.

RP Cons

By contrast, RP’s negatives include:

  • No antivirus protection: restoring an RP won’t necessarily eliminate triggers for or stealth executables that cause malware infections. Thus malware can return even after using an RP.
  • No data file backup: RP copies the contents of the system volume shadow using the Volume Shadow Service (aka VSS). This does not include data files by intention. So RP provides no data restore capability (see the note at the end of this story for a 3rd-party tool that does provide such capability, however).
  • New user accounts are not protected by RP: if you define a new user account after the point in time at which an RP shapshot is created, those accounts will no longer exist when that RP is restored. That said, the User files for that account will persist. IMO, this is a kind “worst of both worlds” situation. Sigh.

My Net-Net Is: Don’t Rely Solely on RPs

Reading through the previous plusses and minuses, it’s pretty easy to see that  RPs can have value in a limited set of circumstances. But they’re no substitute for a recent image backup, and they’re no panacea for solving non-trivial Windows issues or problems.

I don’t use RPs much myself anymore myself (though I did in the Vista and Windows 7 eras). These days I rely mostly on in-place upgrade repair install for semi-serious to serious troubleshooting, and a clean install (or image restore) for outright system failures and boot problems. It’s also my repair of last resort when nothing else will produce a working Windows instance. Go figure!

Note Added March 19: More Madness

I got a comment from and regular “Old Navy Guy” (ONG) this morning reminding me that the NirSoft ShadowCopyView tool does allow users to view and copy certain data files from a VSS snapshot. This *does* allow access to user files and folders and adds to what you can recover from such a snapshot.

I totally forgot about this tool, and am glad to be reminded of same. More important, I’m grateful to have the chance to point this out to you, dear reader — and to make that tool known and possibly useful for you. AFAIK, this capability applies only to files and folders in the Users folder hierarchy, so if you keep stuff on a data drive — as I do — it won’t help much, or at all. But it could still be helpful nevertheless. Cheers!

Note Added March 21: Including Other Drives

Another Homer Simpson moment has come and gone for me. ONG commented again to remind me that ShadowCopyView does data drives, too. I initially wondered how VSS could accommodate drives other than the C: (boot/system) drive where the OS and other key stuff lives. Then it hit me: you must enable RP protection on those drives, too. Here’s an illustrative screencap:

Restore Point Pros & Cons.ddarrow

Turn on Protection for the D: drive so it gets VSS snapshots, too.

Maybe there’s more to this protection scheme than I originally gave it credit for. It took 12 seconds to capture an RP for my C: drive and 13-14 seconds for my D: (Data) drive on a Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga. WizTree says C: contains ~80GB of data, while D: contains ~400GB. So it is indeed remarkably fast. And with VolumeShadowCopy providing access to contents, it provides workable file and folder level access to bring back items one-at-a-time or as portions of a target drive’s file hierarchy. Good stuff!


Widget Screenshot Users, Beware

Wow! Did I get an ugly surprise in the mail yesterday. I got two demand letters from a Canadian image rights company, seeking payment of US$1,334 for use of two thumbnails in a screen capture I made. Where and how did this happen? I was reporting about the introduction of the Windows News Bar (Beta) app, before the whole news and weather widget stuff rolled onto the Windows taskbar. That’s why I admonish fellow bloggers and Web content developers: “Widget screenshot users, beware!”

Ouching into Widget Screenshot Users Beware

The actual images the claimant asserts I’m using without a license are thumbnails. They measure 78×41 pixels. They’re included as an illustration of what the news bar looked like on the Windows desktop at the time (after I downloaded and installed the app).

Of course, news and weather info is now available from the taskbar. It comes courtesy of the so-called “Widgets” icon there, where the popped-up window that clicking on it produces is simply called Widgets. It shows both captions and images because it has more pixels to work with. This original design let users pick whether to see captions or images (images by default). Because I screen-capped two of their clients’ images on March 30, 2020, I must pay . . .  says the claimant.

Fair Use to the Rescue

“Not so fast,” is my response. I replied in writing  as follows:

  •  I make no money from my website
  • I was reporting news about a new MS Store app (News Bar Beta)
  • I used the image strip (5 or 6 of them altogether, if memory serves) purely to show what the app looked like, and made no reference to individual images
  • I reproduced the strip as thumbnails only, heavily cropped
  • I do not sell or license images to any third parties, and I make no money from the site, so it can’t impose commercial losses on the copyright holders

These are all part of the arguments through which “fair use” is proven in the US. I think I’m on solid ground, but it’s pretty disturbing nonetheless. Going forward, I’ll look more closely at exactly what’s in my screencaps. I’d advise you to do likewise for anything that goes online as well. Better to avoid trouble than to have to (de)fend it off.


Checking Wi-Fi Signal Strength

Here at Chez Tittel, most PCs use wired Ethernet for their network connections. That is: of the 10 PCs on various LAN segments here, 7 use GbE connections; the other 3 use Wi-Fi. But our cellphones, iPad, and other devices — including 3 thermostats — are all on Wi-Fi. It’s a mixed bag. I like to check Wi-Fi quality from time to time, so I have to thank Mauro Huculak at Windows Central. He just reminded me about what’s up with checking Wi-Fi signal strength. See his story “How to check Wi-Fi signal strength…” for a raft of potential ways in Windows 11.

Checking Wi-Fi Signal Strength: Command Line

I’m a command line junkie, so I’ll skip the various UI-based methods he describes. There’s a single command in the network shell (netsh) that will tell you what you (or I, in this case) want to know:

netsh wlan show interfaces

Mr. Huculak also provides a tasty one-liner version in his article that’s worth sharing and keeping around (cut’n’paste into a text editor like Notepad, and remove all but one space between the text on the 1st & 2nd lines, please, so it will run in Command Prompt or PowerShell):

(netsh wlan show interfaces)
-Match '^\s+Signal' -Replace '^\s+Signal\s+:\s+',''

You can see both of these at work in PowerShell on one of my Windows 11 test PCs in the lead-in graphic above. The short version produces all of the interface info for the one and only Wi-Fi interface on that machine; the long version simply shows the signal strength as a percentage (i.e. the “99%” at lower left above). You can go either way. Works the same on Windows 10, too. Very handy!

Thanks again, Mauro. Made my morning…