Category Archives: Windows 10

CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

OK, then. I’ve been trying to figure out why, on some of my test PCs, I get an error message when PowerShell loads my profile and tries to import the PowerToys WingetCommandNotFound (CNF) module. You can see that error message in the lead-in graphic above (from my ThinkPad P16 Mobile workstation). Thanks to some fiddling around, this CNF conundrum gets some love — finally!

I haven’t figured out how to fix the problem properly just yet. But for the nonce, if I go into PowerToys, visit CNF, uninstall and then resinstall same, it returns to work. This happens every time I open a fresh PowerShell session, so it’s at least mildly bothersome. But I’m starting to make progress on figuring things out.

How CNF Conundrum Gets Some Love

The error message keeps changing on me as I add things to the folder where the profile resides — namely %user%\documents\PowerShell. First, it complains about not being able  to find the module itself. I copy it into that folder. Then it complains about a .DLL. I copy that, too. Finally, it complains about an error handler not being able to field a thrown exception.

It’s not fixed yet, but I now know that this issue comes from my PowerShell modules path set-up. Something is wonky between those search paths (there’s one for the system, and one for my login account) and PowerToys. This happens for one of my Microsoft Accounts (MSAs)  every time I use it to log into Windows, because this information is shared across those instances through OneDrive.

What’s Next?

I’ve got to research how I should be setting things up in the OneDrive environment to get PowerShell and PowerToys to get along with each other properly. I’ll be contacting the WinGet crew (Demitrius Nelon’s team at MS) to request additional info and guidance. That’s because my online searches have only clued me into what’s going on, but not how to fix it properly.

Stay tuned: I’ll keep this one up-to-date. And I’ll probably post again, when a resolution is formulated. This just in: OneDrive is reporting multiple copies of the PS profile in its file store. Could this be related? I have to think so. Again: stay tuned…

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Repair Install Fixes Instability

At the beginning of this month, I performed an in-place upgrade repair install on my Windows 10 production PC. It’s now running Build 19045.4046. You can see that this repair install fixes instability on the PC in the lead-in graphic. Over the past 20 days I’ve had only one critical event — mostly self-inflicted when testing winget Chrome update behavior (see last Friday’s post for details). Otherwise, this 2016-vintage system has been rock solid of late.

When in Doubt, Repair Install Fixes Instability

Gosh! I’ve long been a believer that an in-place upgrade repair install (IPURI) is something of a Windows cure-all. Reminder: an IPURI runs setup.exe from a mounted ISO for the same version of Windows that’s currently running on a PC. Thus, it requires the host OS to be running well enough to replace itself. See these terrrific TenForums.com and ElevenForum.com tutorials for all the details…

Thus, you can’t use this technique if you’re having boot problems, or the OS isn’t running well enough to get through  the GUI phase of a Windows upgrade. But for situations where the OS is running (but most likely, not as well as you might like) this technique works extremely well. My earlier Reliability Monitor trace, before the February 1 IPURI, looked something like a sawtooth wave on an oscilloscope. Ouch!

How to Get the Right ISO

I still use UUPDump.net to match build numbers between what’s running and the ISO I have it build for me. Then, I mount that ISO, and run setup.exe from the virtual DVD drive ID Explorer puts out there for me. Lately it’s been showing up as the E: drive; but this morning it comes up as P:. But you’ll most likely see it labeled with the initial characters of the image label like this:Repair Install Fixes Instability.recent-iso

Here’s what Explorer shows me when I mount the ISO I used on February 1 for an IPURI: Virtual DVD Drive P:

For the record, I also use the excellent Ventoy project software to boot into my various ISOs when an IPURI won’t do. Admins and power users will want to keep a USB handy with their fave ISOs for repair and recovery scenarios. I do that on a 1 TB NVMe SSD inside a USB3.2 drive enclosure. Lets me keep dozens of ISOs around, ready to boot into any of them on a moment’s notice. Good stuff!

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Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious

As far as I can tell, I’ve been blogging here about the Windows Package Manager — Winget, that is — since May 2022. Indeed it’s received regular mention ever since (nearly a third of all posts). I finally observed the other day that winget won’t update a browser with any of its processes running on the target PC. Also the browsers I use (Chrome, Firefox, Edge) still make you “Relaunch” to complete any update. This includes instances when Winget updates them successfully. Hence my assertion: Winget browser updates may be curious. And I mean both in terms of effect and outcome.

If Winget Browser Updates May Be Curious, Then?

It doesn’t stop me from trying, but the update doesn’t happen at all when any related process is running. Thus, for example, if any chrome.exe items show up in Task Manager>Details view, winget breezes past the update package and does nothing. Ditto for Firefox and Edge. But it’s a good flag for me to jump into each one’s Help>About facililty which is usually more than happy to update from insider the browser itself. And again, to request a “Relaunch” when that process comes to its conclusion.

It’s all part of the learning process in working with winget to keep Windows up-to-date. Sometimes — indeed nearly all the time — winget handles update packages quite nicely on its own. At other times (less often) winget acts as a sentinel to warn me that an update is available, which I then must figure out how to install.

Here’s a short list of such programs above and beyond the browsers already mentioned: Kindle for Windows, Discord, certain EA game executables, Teams Classic, Windows Terminal (now fixed), and even Winget itself from time to time. But gosh, it’s always fun to see what’s out there and what happens when winget wrangles update packages. It’s made my life ever so much more interesting (and updates easier) since it emerged in 2022.

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Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store Debut

They used to call it Microsoft PC Manager (Beta). Now, not only is the beta designation gone, Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store debut. And when you install it from the download, the program flashes this screen to confirm that change of status:

What do YOU think? Official it is!

Easy Pickings As Microsoft PC Manager Makes Store Debut

I’ve written a couple of prior stories about the Beta version so I’m fairly familiar with this program:

I can say this much right away: with its release into the MS Store, installing MSPCM (as I like to abbreviate Microsoft PC Manager) has become a LOT easier. If you didn’t realize how the download button worked in the beta version you could easily be fooled into thinking installation didn’t work. Happened to me, anyway. And of course, installing via the Store means you can skip all the steps I depict in the afore-linked TekkiGurus story (as well as the ones I just skip over).

OK, Then: What’s Changed?

Other than dropping the (Beta) from the end of its name and popping up in the Store, I haven’t found that much different about the program just yet. Looks like I need to spend more time noodling around. Good thing that’s one of my favorite ways to spend time with Windows.

On the plus side, MSPCM is losing a lot of its rough edges. It still shows some signs that non-native English speakers put the text together, but it’s getting better, e.g.:

PC Manager will automatically boost your PC when high usage of RAM or there are 1GB of temporary files

Cleanup your system and free up spaces.

Built-in a variety of Windows tools.

The first of these items comes from the UI itself, the latter two from the PC Manager web pages. Still a bit of Chinglish in there, but they’ve come a long way since I started playing with this tool last fall. Check it: search for Microsoft PC Manager at the Microsoft Store, or follow its Store Link. Cheers!

Note: here’s a shout-out to Abishek Misra at WindowsLatest, whose February 6 story clued me into this new step in MSPCM evolution.

 

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NVIDIA Drops New Driver Batch

As I work through the Windows news each morning, I check X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Facebook and Mastodon by way of social media. I also check in on WinAero, WindowsLatest, MSPowerUser, Ghacks, Thurott and Windows Central as well. Today, most of them told me something like NVIDIA drops new driver batch 551.23. And indeed, I found Game-ready and Studio versions for consumer grade GPUs, as well as Quadro (551.23 aka Release 550) among the pro lines. You can see the Studio version from GeForce Experience in the lead-in graphic above.

Fast facts on this latest version:
1. Target Directory: C:\ProgramData\NVIDIA Corporation\
Downloader…
2. Filename: 551.23-desktop-win10-win11-64bit-
international-nsd-dch-whql-g.exe
3. Download size: 519KB (downloader only)
4. On-disk file size: 1.93 GB (all files downloaded & expanded)
5. Download & install time: ~3:30 (average across 5 PCs)

Why NVIDIA Drops New Driver Batch 551.23

Most often updates follow close on the heels of new games (or game features). Sometimes, they pop up to support new NVIDIA GPU offerings. It’s the latter this time, with the release of the game- and AI-ready RTX 4080 SUPER at CES on January 8, 2024 (also includes 4070 Ti SUPER and 4070 SUPER in that mix).

Heh! I’m not sure I’m ready to fork over the long green needed to buy into the latest NVIDIA generation, but it’s nice to know they’re out there when I build my next desktop. I usually buy either a 4070 or 4070 Ti model because I can’t really justify the price/performance tax that a top-of-the-line model adds to my build costs. But gamers everywhere will probably be fighting off a new case of techno-lust.

Drivers Downloaded and Updated

Amidst my modest fleet of about one dozen PCs (8 laptops and 4 desktops), there are 7 machines with NVIDIA graphics cards of one kind or another. I’ve got the updates running on all of them right now (except for the desktop my son is using away at college, so I’ll mention this to him the next time we talk). By the time you read this, they should all be updated.

If you’ve got an NVIDIA GPU in your neighborhood, now you know there’s a new update out there, too. Three cheers for the 551.23 release!

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KB5034441 Partition Work Kills Reflect Backup

There’s a very good reason why I run my Macrium Reflect backups at 9 AM. I’m usually at my desk, so I can see it fire up and –eventually — complete successfully. This morning, I noticed the backup had failed pretty soon after it started up. What I wanted to see shows up above in the lead-in graphic — namely “Image Completed Successfully.” Upon investigation, the reason for failure was a missing partition. Indeed, I’d deleted it to make room to expand my WinRE partition. That’s why I call this post KB5034441 Partition Work Kills Reflect Backup. Now, I’ll explain…

Why KB5034441 Partition Work Kills Reflect Backup

KB5034441 appeared on January 9 for Windows 10. It works some Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) magic and also rebuilds the WinRE partition on the sys/boot disk. Alas, it wants an additional 250MB of partition space. That’s usually not available in most existing recovery partitions, so it’s necessary to resize that partition to make room for the new additions.

This is where things get interesting for me. I run a daily backup on my sys/boot (and key data) disk(s). Because I made room to grow my existing WinRE partition — using reagentc /info to identify it, and MTPW to give it more space — I first deleted partition 6 on that drive (an older, now ununsed WinRE partition). Because my Reflect Macrium drives image backups from a partition map, killing Partition 6 on the drive made the XML backup schedule diverge from the actual disk layout. When that happens, out of an abundance of caution, Macrium Reflect refuses to image that changed  layout.

Fixing the Backup Backup (Failure)

All I had to do to fix the problem was to define a new backup schedule with the proper partitions ticked off on the boot/sys drive. But before I could do that, I had to notice the old backup definition was no longer working. Of course, I also deleted the no-longer-working definition file as well.

That finally happened this morning and I got a new backup completed shortly thereafter. I’m sure glad nothing blew up in the meantime. As you can see, my last successful backup (before today) occurred on January 12 — one week ago. Dodged a bullet, that time.

KB5034441 Partition Work Kills Reflect Backup.backfiles

Notice the second date in the descending series of files. It’s a week old. Ouch! {Click image for full-sized view.}

Learned an important lesson, too: if the partition map changes, the backup definition file must be changed to match. Otherwise, Macrium Reflect image backup won’t work! Because I rely on daily image backups to haul my fat out of the fire, that’s uncommonly good to know and understand…

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Laughable Stardock Version Mixup

I have to chuckle. Winget just told me to upgrade Stardock Start10 on my lone remaining physical Windows 10 PC. Why? It sees a version numbered 1.9.7.0 but wants to take that package to 1.97. Of course, they are one and the same thing, and the update install fails with error code 9, as shown in the lead-in graphic. This laughable Stardock version mixup tells me there may be an issue with how version numbers get parsed and divided up inside winget’s package database.

Laughable Stardock Version Mixup:
1.9.7.0 v 1.97

When I run the about screen from the version that’s actually running what you see next is what I see too. Guess what? The in-app update check confirms that 1.97 is indeed already running and the most current release. So what’s the confusion?

Laughable Stardock Version Mixup.197-already-on

Not only is 1.97 already running, in-app update says it’s current.

This is one of the little mishaps to which winget sometimes succumbs. It’s no big deal, and it’s actually kind of endearing. And it gives me something to report in to the team. Not that they’ll be short of things to do next week when the world gets back to work!

I’m guessing it will take one or two database corrections to fix this, and probably less than 5 minutes’ work. Perhaps I’ll be finding out. If I do, I’ll share here so stay tuned!

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Final 2023 Insider Channel Flights

It’s a consistent pattern. I’m looking at the most recent “flight announcements” in the Windows Insider blog. All of them include this sentence: “This will be our last <Name> Channel flight until January 2024” where <Name> is one of: Canary, Dev or Beta. The most recent instance popped on December 14. Its header appears as the lead-in graphic above.

Why Say: Final 2023 Insider Channel Flights Are Out?

Beyond the flat assertions from MS indicating they’re on pause until after New Year’s, I’ll observe this is a typical thing for Windows development. It’s been ongoing as far back as I can remember. Indeed, it usually hits in the 2nd or 3rd week of December, before the major end-of-year holidays get going in earnest.

This makes pretty good sense to me. Productivity usually slumps between December 20 and January 3 or 4 (depending on what day of the week New Year’s hits — next year it’s a Monday). MS is smart to call a hiatus by the middle of the month, to give everybody time to gear up for, and then recover from, the hollidays. Most other businesses (except those in leisure and hospitality) tend to do likewise.

Take a Deep Breath, And …

Indeed, I just wrote my last weekly blog/column for GoCertify yesterday (it will publish Monday). And I’ve noticed the pace of work will be letting up with the websites and publications I write for starting next week.

Does this mean I’ll be taking a break from this blog, too? Yes and no. I probably won’t blog on December 24 and 25 or January 1, but other than that it should be close to normal as it ever gets here at Chez Tittel. I should have more time to fool around with my PCs, so I should find plenty of stuff to share. Do stay tuned if you’re so inclined, but I hope you’ll have time to enjoy the end-of-year break in your own special ways. Cheers!

 

 

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Windows 10 Copilot Remains Elusive

There’s a new KB in circulation that claims to extend the reach of Copilot in Windows 10. That would be KB5033372, released December 12. But alas: on the lone eligible  physical PC and various Windows VMs here at Chez Tittel, Windows 10 Copilot remains elusive. It runs fine inside Edge, but will not show up as a Taskbar or Start menu item on any of their desktops. Sigh.

Why Windows 10 Copilot Remains Elusive

A quick visit to the KB announcement (link in preceding paragraph) gives me an excellent idea why my PC isn’t getting Copilot. Because some multi-monitor set-ups are subject to “mysterious icon migration” across or among desktops, MS has blocked it for such configs. Here’s what they say:

To prevent users from encountering this issue, Copilot in Windows (in preview) might not be available on devices that have been used or are currently being used in a multimonitor configuration.

And wouildn’t you know it: my Windows 10 PC runs with dual Dell UltraSharp 2717 monitors. That definitely accounts for my physical PC’s lack of Copilot. But I’m not so sure about the VMs. It may stem from my typical mode of access to them (using one of the two just-mentioned monitors) or it may be something else.

A Ray of Hope?

In the same KB announcement already cited MS also says that they’re “working on a solution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.” Here’s hoping that release is upcoming sooner rather than later!

And once again, I’m a Johnny-come-lately among all those already in the vanguard. But hey: that exactly the way that things go here in Windows-World. Once more with feeling, I guess!!

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Counting MS 2006 Drivers

Yesterday’s post about generic, MS-supplied device drivers got me thinking. These drivers bear an issue date of 6/21/2006, which coincides with Windows Vista’s RTM date. To be more specific, I wondered how many such items might appear in the Windows DriverStore. With counting MS 2006 drivers in mind, I asked Copilot for a PowerShell script to count them for me. Just for grins I compared that count to the total items as well.

Scripting Out Counting MS 2006 Drivers

You can see the results of my query to Copilot in the lead-in graphic. That query was “Write me a PowerShell script to display number of Windows drivers dated 6/21/2006 and total driver count.” As it turned out, on my Lenovo X380 ThinkPad running Windows 11, those numbers were 517 (2006 count) and 701 (total count). On my i7Skylake homebuilt system running Windows 10, those numbers were 511 and 672, respectively.

I’ll show the PowerShell commands below, but first I want to observe I had NO IDEA that MS supplies roughly 5 of every 7 drivers that Windows uses (over 70%). From looking at the items in the DriverStore more closely thanks to PowerShell, I see that this is because many of them are class, bus and service drivers. You can thus understand them as part of the driver stack between the OS and the function driver (at the bottom of the stack, it actually interacts with devices).

Here’s how MS shows this architecture in its MS Learn article “What is a driver?

Counting MS 2006 Drivers.diagram
The driver at the bottom of the stack that communicates with a device is a function driver; according to the MS Learn item, filter drivers do “auxiliary processing” which may involve monitoring, verifying, translating, or otherwise manipulating in- and out-bound stack communications. By convention app to device communication moves down the stack, while device to app communication goes the other way.

PowerShell Details

Here’s the PowerShell that Copilot handed to me in response to my query, including comments (start with a # character):

#Get all the drivers from the online Windows image
$drivers = Get-WindowsDriver -Online -All
# Filter the drivers by the date of June 21, 2006
$drivers_2006 = $drivers | Where-Object {$_.Date -eq "6/21/2006"}
# Count the number of drivers with that date
$drivers_2006_count = $drivers_2006.Count
# Display the number of drivers and their names
Write-Output "There are $drivers_2006_count drivers dated 6/21/2006 in the online Windows image."
Write-Output "The names of the drivers are:"
$drivers_2006 | ForEach-Object {Write-Output $_.OriginalFileName}
# Display the total number of drivers
$alld = $drivers | Where-Object {$_.Inbox -eq "True"}
Write-Output "There are $alld.count total Windows drivers in the online Windows image."

Some of the lines shown above break across two lines in the browser, but are actually single PowerShell commands. If you run them, you must put them on a single line. I just ran the commands in sequence, one at a time as you can see in the lead-in graphic. I cheated, though: I simply output $alld.count in the last line shown. The PowerShell shown above wraps this in some explanatory text.

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