Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2: What’s Up?

On January 8, 2024 Wi-Fi 7 went public. That’s the same day the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced its Wi-Fi Certified 7 program. USB4 version 2.0 goes all the way back to October 18, 2022. But only with the release of Insider Preview Canary Channel Build 26063 in February 2022 did MS start testing support for related Wi-Fi 7 drivers. (USB4 version 2.0 has been baked in since Build 23615 in the Dev Channel, released January 11, 2024.)  Neither has appeared in a production version of the OS. Thus, a valid question for Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2 has to be: What’s going on? TLDR answer right now is “Not much just yet.” There are lots of good reasons why so please let me explain…

What’s Afoot with Windows 11 Wi-Fi 7 & USB4v2?

One way to look at this is from a market availability standpoint. Precious few devices for sale right now support either or both of these standards. As I write this item, I see exactly 2 network adapters (one USB, the other PCIe x4) that support Wi-Fi 7.Ditto for  Wi-Fi 7 routers. I can’t find any laptops that offer built-in support for either standard just yet. Many new models are promised later in 2024, and could change that.

Though it’s being proclaimed as something of an oversight  it’s really just a function of supply and demand. (See this Tom’s Hardware news item by way of illustration.) Basic economics and recent history with Wi-Fi 6 and USB4 version 1.0 show that it takes about two years for these new standards to make their way from introduction and into more general adoption. I don’t see this latest iteration as terribly different.

Shoot! I didn’t lay hands on my first PC with built-in USB4 capability until the Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 showed up here at Chez Tittel late last year. Just before Christmas, in fact. If it takes that long to hit my hot little hands again, I’m looking into late 2025 before a personal encounter might happen.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

PS Update Orphans PowerToys CNF

Here’s an interesting one. I’ve noticed recently that when PowerShell gets an update, the next time it launches PowerToys “Command Not Found” (CNF) drops an error message. Hence this post’s title: PS Update Orphans PowerToys CNF.

You can see how this story starts in the lead-in graphic. It shows the error message that CNF.psd1 did not load “because no valid file was found in any module directory.” Seems like an impasse, don’t it?

NOTE Added February 15: It’s the profile not the PowerShell!!! The following observations are correct — the profile and the reference to CNF are indeed mismatched — but it’s NOT PowerShell’s fault. It’s because I’m backing up my profile stuff in OneDrive and the location in the profile is incorrect. Uinstall/reinstall fixes that issue until the next time OneDrive replaces the (correct) local profile copy with the (incorrect) cloud-based one. Sigh. I’ll write about this on Monday, Feb 19, after I’ve had time to figure all the angles!

PS Update Orphans PowerToys CNF Easily Fixed

I superimposed the CNF panel from PowerToys Settings for a reason, though. Even though its status messages and detections all show green, it turns out the real problem is that PowerShell itself can’t find the CNF module.

Here’s the easy fix. Uninstall CNF (click the Uninstall button at center right). Then it changes to an Install button. Now, click that and CNF gets reinstalled. Now, the next time you open PowerShell everything is copacetic, with CNF back at work, as shown in response to my now-standard “vim” test string:

PS Update Orphans PowerToys CNF.retry

After uninstall/reinstall CNF in PowerToys, close and then re-open PowerShell. [Click image for full-size view.]

Sometimes, when certain little things get you, other little things can set them back to rights. In this particular case, that’s how I’d generally describe the path to an error-free PowerShell startup after update, with a working PowerToys CNF as well. Cheers!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

POPCNT Fuss Is More Fizzle

OK, then: the ‘net has been abuzz since last week as upcoming Windows 11 24H2 requirements come clear. Indeed, that OS won’t run on processors that don’t support the POPCNT instruction . IMO this POPCNT fuss is more fizzle than it is a major obstruction. Let me explain…

Why Say: POPCNT Is More Fuss than Fizzle

The POPCNT instruction has nothing to do with stack processing as its name might suggest. Rather, it counts up all 1-values in a binary sequence. It’s part of the SSE4.2 instruction set. These were introduced in 2008 to both AMD and Intel processors — namely:

  • AMD K10 (codename Barcelona), released in April of that year
  • Intel (codename Nehalem), released in November same year

That means the oldest processors that DON’T support SSE4.1 (and POPCNT) are more than 15 years old. Not terribly suitable for running Windows 11 anyway and likely to fail owing to lack of support for TPM, Secure Boot, and other reasons as well.

You can use Franc Delattre’s excellent CPU-Z tool to check your CPU to see if it supports SSE 4.2 or not. Check the lead-in graphic next to “Instructions.” It pops right up even on my 6th-gen 2016 vintage Skylake CPU (still running Windows 10 BTW).

For all but the most diehard long-haul PC users running a machine more than 5 years old is pushing things (and 15-plus years is highly unusual). This very Skylake is my oldest at 8 years, and it’s due for retirement soon, soon, soon.

WTFuss? No Workaround

The problem with POPCNT is that it’s absolutely, positively mandatory for 24H2 to work. Whereas the other impedimenta — e.g. TPM, Secure Boot, UEFI and so forth — have all been cleverly worked around, there’s no known (or likely) workaround for this gotcha. Thus, older PCs that have been shoehorned into Windows 11 upgrades will not be able to advance past the 23H2 upgrade level. Hence such fuss as has emerged in the blogosphere since this news came out last week.

My best guess that that less than 1% of PCs in the US (and perhaps 5-8% of PCs elsewhere, mostly outside the first world) might be subject to the POPCNT limitation. Just another sign that even here in Windows-World, time keeps marching on.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Wired Mouse Means No Stutter

Remember that scene near the end of The Incredibles where one older cop says to the other “No school like the old school?” That snippet of wisdom crossed my mind as I decided to switch from an MS  wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 to an MS Basic Optical Mouse 2.0. Why? Because a wired mouse means no stutter, lag, or hesitation when working on my desktop (or playing Gnu Backgammon or MS Solitaire, two of my fave diversions). Sigh.

Why Wired Mouse Means No Stutter?

I’m pretty sure the fault is mine for the wireless mouse issue. I had its transceiver mounted on my Luxo lamp, right next to a couple of monitors and less than 2 feet away from my Asus 802.11ax router. Not to mention further, it’s in close range of 3 laptops and my desktop as well. Your basic signal-rich, if not downright noisy, wirelesss environment. That said, I didn’t have these problems with the older MS Mobile Mouse 3000 (but alas, they don’t make them anymore).

But now that I’ve got a more isolated communications channel between desktop and mouse, there’s no more stutter or delay. Sometimes, the old school is the only school that works without issue. I have a feeling this may be one of those times. Plus: it was really bugging me. Go figure!

While you’re doing that, I’ll be taking the occasional break for backgammon or solitaire, content in believing that my ancient but unhampered wired mouse will remain snappy enough for my needs. Thank goodness!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

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.

 

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Keyboard Driver Issue Kills Productivity

Think about how you type on a keyboard. Now, consider these words: fully, password, assign, connect. What they have in common is doubled letters. When I type them, I strike the doubled key very quickly then move on to the next letter. The speed at which the keyboard allows this to occur is called the “key repeat rate” aka “repeat rate.” Yesterday, some kind of keyboard driver issue kills productivity. It imposed an apparent 1-second delay between repeats. Indeed, I could barely function at the keyboard!

If Keyboard Driver Issue Kills Productivity, Then What?

A little quick online research informed me about repeat delay and repeat rate. Indeed, it came courtesy of a tutorial from long-time friend and TenForums/ElevenForum colleague Shawn Brink. It’s entitled Change Keyboard Character Repeat Rate in Windows. Its header graphic appears as the lead-in image for this blog post, too.

First, I discovered that both the repeat delay and the repeat rate weren’t working at all. I had to wait about a second to hit any key a second time, and have it show up on the display. Next, I  learned that the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center wouldn’t let me adjust either rate directly. And finally, upon checking existing Registry settings, they should already have been working properly.

Title Says Driver, Fix Replaces Driver

All these bits of evidence told me the driver itself was broken. So I returned to MS support to download a new version of the MKC (Mouse and Keyboard Center) version 14.41, 64-bit. After the install, I had to reboot my PC. When it came back up, I jumped immediately into Notepad. Once again I could type words with doubled letters. And when I pressed and held any letter key, it would quickly start pumping out copies until I lifted my finger. Back in business!

They say, it’s the little things that get you in the end. Here in Windows-World they also get you at odd and random times, too. Like yesterday when MKC went south. So it goes…

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List

“What,” you may ask, “is a CPL file?” It stands for control panel item or component, and maps to something you can run inside the Control Panel hierarchy. You can see the top level of my Windows 10 hierarchy above, and a corresponding one from Windows 11 below. Though MS is working to replace CPL items with Settings elements, there are still a lot of CPLs around. In fact, MS provides complete CPL file list on one of its support pages. It’s called “How to run Control Panel tools by typing a command.”

Click image for full-size view (Windows 11 CP).

MS Provides “Complete” CPL File List: Use It!

Upon closer examination of this list, and comparisons with voidtools Everything output (search on “*.cpl”) I can see several limitations of this list. But for most of the items that do appear therein as actual .cpl references, they do provide quick access via PowerShell or the Command Prompt. That said two of the items — namely, the Fonts Folder and the Printers — simply tell readers to use corresponding folder structures.

OTOH, there are numerous items that aren’t on the list that do appear in the Control Panel window. That makes things interesting. You can also see that third parties can and do register items in the Control Panel. And the list is neither complete nor accurate when it comes to Windows 10 and 11. Let me lay things out, then explain…

Get It from a Table…

I built a table that shows item names, cpl file names (when present), and the name of the software item that launches. Some may surprise you: they sure surprised me!

Control Panel Item CPL filename Result in Windows 10/11
Accessibility options access.cpl not found (use Settings > Ease of Access)
Add New Hardware sysdm.cpl System Properties CPL (computer name tab)
Add/Remove Programs appwiz.cpl Add/Remove programs CPL
Date/Time Properties timedate.cpl Date and Time CPL
Display Properties desk.cpl Opens Settings > System > Display
Findfast control findfast.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Fonts folder ==none== Visit C:\Windows\Fonts
Internet Properties inetcpl.cpl Opens Internet Properties (General tab)
Joystick Properties joy.cpl Opens Game Controllers CPL
Keyboard Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Microsoft Exchange mlcf632.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Microsoft Mail wgpocpl.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Modem Properties modem.cpl Defunct (no longer available)
Mouse Properties main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL
Multimedia Properties mmsys.cpl Opens Sound CPL
Network Properties netcpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Network & Internet)
Password Properties password.cpl Not found (use Settings > Accounts > Sign-in…)
PC Card main.cpl Opens Mouse Properties CPL (but defunct)
Power Management powercfg.cpl Opens Power Options CPL
Printers Folder ==none== Use Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers…
Regional Settings intl.cpl Region CPL
Scanners and Cameras sticpl.cpl Not found (use Settings > Bluetooth… > Printers…)
Sound Properties mmsys.cpl Sound CPL
System Properties sysdm.cpl System Properties (computer name tab)

What’s Interesting Here?

This file clearly shows its age with some items (especially Exchange and Mail stuff) long, long gone from Windows. The need to use Settings elements instead of CPLs shows the gradual shift-over from the latter to the former. It’s also interesting how many still work just as they always did.

Ahhhh, Windows. It’s always an education to dig into the details and see how older versions still have influence. But new forces (and designs) will inexorably push old stuff out of the way (e.g. PCMCIA or PC Card stuff). Interestingly the meta-data says this file was created in 2017 and last updated in 2021. That shows, and explains why some of its info is just plain out of date and thus, wrong.

Enjoy!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 24H2 = Next Release?

There’s been a lot of flap and guff in the rumor mill about how “Windows vNext” will be labeled. Some have said “Windows 12;” others, “Windows 11 24H2.” Strong evidence that Windows 11 24H2 = next release popped up last Friday. This WindowsLatest story Microsoft document confirms Windows 11 24H2 update includes a link to a Windows App Development support note that uses this very nomenclature. It reads:

Starting in Windows 11 Version 24H2, EnumDeviceDrivers will require SeDebugPrivilege to return valid ImageBase values.

If Windows 11 24H2 = Next Release, Then?

I guess this should ease off the WTF factor that seems to explode whenever Windows 12 comes up. My best guess is that MS still wants to slide as many business users over from Windows 10 to 11 as it can. Thus, it’s always seemed a little whacky for insiders and pundits to freak out over Windows 12. With EOL still more than a year in the offing for Windows 10 (October 14, 2025 is 617 days away as I write this, says TimeandDate.com).

I’m just glad to believe if only for a while that the 4 channels of Windows 11 Insider Previews and a single such channel for Windows 10 will be all I have to follow. Plus the production versions of each OS, of course. It manages to keep me reasonably well-occupied. Who knows how the channel count will change when MS does get into Windows 12 releases? Not me! Stay tuned, though: when I find out, I’ll tell you…

Nomenclature Confirmed

After installing the latest Canary Build 26052 on February 8, here’s what came up in Winver on that test PC (Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid Tablet). It’s also explicitly stated in the release notes as well [General section] (emphasis in bold is Microsoft’s):

Starting with Build 26-xx today, Windows Insiders in the Canary and Dev Channels will see the versioning updated under Settings > System > About (and winver) to version 24H2. This denotes that Windows 11, version 24H2 will be this year’s annual feature update.


So indeed, Windows 11 24H2 it is for sure, straight from the source

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well

I admire the heck out of Israeli software developer Nir Sofer. He’s the person behind the powerhouse utility provider NirSoft.net, where you’ll find nearly 200 (177 at last count) great Windows utilities ready for download and use. I just got reminded about his nifty BatteryViewInfo took in a recent AskWoody newsletter. Indeed the free NirSoft BatteryInfoView works well, and provides lots of useful battery status and health information. See a typical display from my 2018 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga in the lead-in graphic.

Why say: NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well?

As you can see from the screencap above, BatteryInfoView (BIV) tells you pretty much everything you need to know about any given PC (laptop, tablet, etc.) battery. The current capacity and battery health values tend to be of greatest interest.

And indeed, Lenovo offers a battery settings control, for which it claims that setting maximum capacity to around 80% will result in longer battery life. I believe that translates into better battery health over time. Here’s what the X380 shows under battery charging threshold in the Battery section for Lenovo Vantage:

NirSoft BatteryInfoView Works Well.batset

Note: Charge threshold is turned on. Charging starts at 75% and stops at 80%. [Click image for full-size view]

Notice further that in the lead-in graphic, battery health is 92.8%. On my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which I obtained in 2021, I did not reset the battery threshold on that PC. Thus, even though it’s two years newer than the X380, its current battery health number is 89.3%. That’s about 4% less. To me, it shows that Lenovo’s recommendations to lower the stop and start values for charge levels really do have an impact on battery life. It’s not huge, but it’s not nothing, neither.

It also shows how a good tool can help admins and power users get the most from their technology investments.

Copilot Weighs in on Battery Health

Just for grins I asked Copilot “Working from NirSoft’s BatteryInfoView utility, at what level of “Battery Health” should one consider replacing the battery?” Copilot hemmed and hawed but ultimately said this:

In general, if the “Battery health” value is consistently below 80%, it may be a sign that the battery is deteriorating and may need to be replaced soon. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and other factors such as the age of the battery, the usage patterns, and the operating conditions can also affect the battery life and performance. If you notice that your laptop’s battery is not holding a charge as long as it used to, or if you are experiencing other issues such as overheating, slow performance, or unexpected shutdowns, it may be a good idea to have the battery checked by a professional or replaced if necessary.

My original impression comes from translating a story from German into English for Tom’s Hardware back in the early 2000s. Even then, their research showed that a regime of reducing charge level was the best way to keep a laptop battery healthy in the long run. I wish I could find a link to that story (but I can’t) but they recommended dropping battery charge levels to 40% for long term storage, and recommended not charging batteries to over 80% if a PC remains plugged into AC power. Regular deep discharge cycles were also recommended. A 2023 Tom’s Hardware forum thread still cites the 80/40 rule, in fact. Sounds like the old rule is still cool.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor

Here’s an interesting one. Sometimes when I have to grope for a blog topic, I check Reliability Monitor on one or more of my Windows PCs. In an ironic twist, this itself produced my topic when the data in my Windows 10 production PC turned up missing in ReliMon (as I like to call it). In fact, a quick web search told me that no details means reset Reliability Monitor is a good fix. And there are numerous batch files to do that job. Ultimately, the one I used appears in the ElevenForum tutorial “View Reliability History in Windows 11.”

Why No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor

Behind the scenes reliability monitor itself relies on scheduled tasks and a data collection service. These combine to sweep up all the data it tracks into an XML file at regular intervals. If any of those elements hang up or fail, data neither gets collected or stored. With no data to show, ReliMon can’t put on much display, either.

WindowsClub published a story entitled “How to Reset Reliability Monitor in Windows 10/11” in September 2023. It’s mentioned in the afore-cited ElevenForum tutorial in Post#11. As a usually reliable source for fixes and info, I gave the batch file a go. And indeed it cleared Reliability Monitor completely (see next image).

No Details Means Reset Reliability Monitor.blank

Nothing to see hear: the report history is completely cleared.”

By design, I must  wait 24 hours before reported data starts showing up. I’ll report back here if it works — or not. But in the meantime, please chuckle with me that in looking for something to blog about, the very tool I sometimes use to help me zero in on topics itself provided my topic for today.

And is that how things often go in Windows World? You bet!

Note Added Next Day (Feb 2)

And …. yes! …. ReliMon is back at work on the affected PC. Doesn’t have much to show for itself yet, but you can see events and data are being collected and reported.

Happy to show that ReliMon is again gathering and reporting errors, warnings, info events, and so on.
[Click image for full-size view]

The reset appears to have had the intended outcome: Reliabiity Monitor is back at work.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Author, Editor, Expert Witness