Build 25179 Gives Everybody Tabbed Explorer

It’s been a long time coming. The gradual release of tabs in File Explorer is now a Dev Channel feature. That’s right: Build 25179 gives everybody tabbed Explorer. I’ve had it come and go somewhat randomly over the whole summer. But now, it looks like it’s here to stay, as shown in the lead-in graphic above. Good-oh!

When Build 25179 Gives Everybody Tabbed Explorer …

… Then, everybody can make use of the feature. Personally I find it much easier to navigate around a bunch of tabs in a single Explorer window, than to jump across a bunch of disjoint Explorer windows. But that’s just me — others may feel differently.

That does explain, however, why I welcome the general release of this long-awaited Windows feature. For me, Explorer is one of the Windows applications I use most frequently. That means even a slight productivity improvement offers big dividends. And with dozens of daily uses (I almost always have one or more File Explorer windows open on my desktop) that’s a big win.

Two Explorer Windows Still Have Their Uses

When I have to compare or move files between directories, I can still make use of multiple Explorer windows at the same time. It’s a handy way to see what’s going on in two file system locations at once. Be that to move files from one location to another, or to compare files across those locations, it’s still a handy technique.

But when I want to scope out the contents of multiple file system locations, I think I prefer tabs for that purpose. As I said earlier, I’m convinced it’s easier to click tabs in a single window for that purpose. Jumping among multiple windows just isn’t as workable or attractive IMO.

You are, of course, free to form your own opinions and habits where File Explorer is concerned. But it’s always nice to have options, right?

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Signal Strength Impedes Swapped PC WiFi Access

OK, then. Yesterday, we spent a small fortune packing up and shipping out a tower PC and 27″ monitor to my son’s college address. In the aftermath, I moved the other B550 tower with Ryzen 5800X upstairs to his room. But alas, because I left the high-end, PCIe WiFi card in the shipped-out unit, I couldn’t get any of my plug-in (or built-in) WiFi devices to connect to the Spectrum router. Hence my claim that signal strength impedes swapped PC WiFi access.

Overcoming Signal Strength Impedes Swapped PC WiFi Access

There’s a whole litany of checks I ran through to see if I could get such WiFi devices as were at my disposal working. The PC could “see” the Spectrum router. Alas, it just couldn’t connect, not using any of the following:

  • A 5-year old Asus 802.11ac USB 3 (USB-AC 56) device with external antenna
  • A similar vintage NetGear 802.11 ac USB 3 (AC 600) device with no external antenna
  • The built-in M.2 slot with a non-Intel 802.11ax mini-card (but no external antenna)

I worked through all of the following checks, too, just to cover all the bases:

1. Reboot PC to reset startup network settings
2. Ran the network troubleshooter
3. Enable/disable device drivers in Device Manager
4. Reset Network Settings as per ElevenForum Reset Network Adapters in Windows 11 tutorial

No joy on any of these, though. Sigh.

An Alexandrine Solution?

Eventually, I installed a switch at the RJ-45 wall jack upstairs, then ran a long cable from that switch into my son’s bedroom to give him a direct, wired Internet connection. Of course, that worked right away once I’d gotten all the pieces and parts plugged in properly.

The story does have a happy ending, though. Check out the Fast.com speed test results I obtained after setting up the wired link into that PC. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen on my LAN.

I didn’t realize the Spectrum router could exceed 1 Gbps on its end. This PC has a 2.5 GbE interface, so it’s capable enough. But given a GbE LAN exceeding the speed limit makes me wonder…

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Samsung NVMe Drive Failing

In a recent story here, I mentioned a possible mismatch between some components. On the one hand: an old Samsung MZVPV512HDGL OEM NVMe drive. On the other hand: a brand-new PCIe x4 USB 3.2/Thunderbolt NVMe enclosure. Upon swapping in a newer ADATA drive my issues with the enclosure vanished. So I mounted the other drive in an older Sabrent NVMe enclosure. Now I’m getting indications of the Samsung NVMe drive failing. A strong indicator shows up as the lead-in graphic above.

What Says: Samsung NVMe Drive Failing?

The inability to perform write tests using HD Tune is a pretty big tell. Interestingly, though: chkdsk and CrystalDiskInfo both report the drive as healthy. My best guess is that write failures are occurring, and that HD Tune won’t “write past” such things, while the other tools rely on SMART data and surface analysis and aren’t seeing active errors.

My plan is to retire the drive as soon as the replacement part shows up. That’s been en route via Amazon for too long now, so I just cancelled that order and placed a new one. Hopefully it will be here tomorrow, including a 1TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus with internal read/write speeds of up to 6+/4+ Gbps. Of course, that’s not gonna happen in a USB 3.2/Thunderbolt enclosure. But I am darn curious to see how fast the bus can go when the drive is fast enough to get out of the way.

Stay Tuned: More to Come!

According to what I read online, I may be able to get read/write speeds in excess of 2 Gbps via Thunderbolt 3 from the NVMe enclosure. So far, the best I’ve seen from my older Sabrent (USB 3.2 only) enclosures is on the order of 1.1 Gbps. So it should be pretty easy to tell if the new drive/enclosure speeds things up.

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Flaky Video Driver Forces Fix Revisits

My production desktop’s dual monitor setup gets a little wonky from time to time. For some odd reason, the right-hand (primary) monitor will start blinking on and off. It’s annoying, but not overwhelming. When it happens, an apparently flaky video driver forces fix revisits. Basically, I keep trying stuff until something works. By no coincidence, that’s a decent operational definition for troubleshooting.

Items Checked When Flaky Video Driver Forces Fix Revisits

It usually goes something like this:

1. Use the Winkey-Ctrl-Shift-B key combo to reset the graphics driver. It does work, sometimes…
2. Check GeForce Experience to see if a newer driver is available; if so, install it.
3. If using the Nvidia gaming driver, switch to Studio driver, or vice-versa.
4. Uninstall, then reinstall the Nvidia driver. I also recommend using the freeware DDU tool to remove all traces of the old before installing the new.
5. Visit the Nvidia Driver Downloads page, and start trying older drivers, going back one version at a time… The recent entries in that list for my GeForce RTX 3070 Ti appear as the lead-in graphic for this story.

Today’s Fix Occurred Mid-way in Sequence

I got to Step 4 today before the blinking stopped. That’s a bit further than I usually have to go, but that’s Windows for you. I’m just glad I can concentrate on what’s showing on both displays, rather than how one or the other is (mis)behaving.

Some Windows errors or gotchas can be set aside and ignored for a while. Others — especially when they interfere with normal system operation — demand immediate attention. While today’s gotcha was one of the latter, it was familiar. Thus, I knew what to do, and how to do it, with minimum need for diagnosis and root cause analysis.

I just marched through the foregoing list and found my solution in under 10 minutes. I can only wish that all problems were so easily fixed. And that’s the way things are unfolding today, here in Windows World. Stay tuned: there’ll be more!

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Updating Dolby Audio X2

On some of my Lenovo systems, one specific file often shows up in the Software Update Monitor (SUMo) in need of a newer version. It’s named dolbydax2desktopui.exe . According to Lenovo, it’s part of the Dolby Audio X2 system (DAX2) and comes preloaded on some of its PCs. Updating this Dolby Audio X2 file has been problematic, because a file source and update method have been unclear. No longer!

Updating Dolby Audio X2 Is Easy, If You Know How…

Most software updates require … well … an update of some kind to be applied. Not so for this particular file. One simply needs to overwrite the older version with a newer one in its default path:

C:\Program Files\Dolby\Dolby DAX2\DAX2_APP\

Of course, this raises an interesting question — namely, where might one find current versions of this file? I finally found them at a website named pconlife.com, which describes itself as “aimed at recovering the .dll or .exe file lost by Windows OS for computer users.” In general it seeks to help users replace lost, missing or damaged Windows files. For me, it’s shown itself to be a safe and reliable source of current versions of the afore-named DAX2 file. (Note: VirusTotal gives this file a 0/68 finding on its comparative checks).

Now, when SUMo tells me I need to update this file, I know where to go to get its specified version. I also know how to “update” that file. Choosing “Copy and Replace” in Explorer when seeking to over-write its predecessor does the trick nicely, thanks very much!

Yet Again, Persistence Pays Off

Learning how to keep Windows apps and components current is mostly a matter of routine. But for some things — this DAX2 item is a good example — one has to figure out how to do that, and where to get new versions as they appear. It’s easier when the vendor or maker provides an update package (and easier still when applying that package can be automated). But with enough investigation and elbow grease, these problems can be cracked over time. I’m glad to have this one finally made routine as well.

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Store Reinstall Solves Stuck Terminal

Interesting! As is my usual practice, I just installed KB5015882, the upcoming CU preview. It targets production Windows 11, and takes it to Build 22000.832. After that update and restart, I noticed two things. First, this PC was still running the old Windows Terminal version. Second, Windows Store offered me an upgrade for same, but it got stuck during the process. After forcibly closing Store, and returning to the same page, a Store reinstall solves stuck Terminal once and for all. Deets follow, and a general approach to app repair.

Praise Be! Store Reinstall Solves Stuck Terminal

To begin with, when I ran Windows Terminal, I noticed it was still running an old version (no access to Settings, nor various supported command line environments). When I visited the Store, and searched on “Windows Terminal” its app page hung while trying to upgrade that very tool. So I terminated the whole shebang by clicking the close button at upper right.

Just for grins, I ran winget upgrade --all. It did not upgrade my Windows Terminal install, though it found and updated numerous other items successfully. Go figure!

Then, I opened the Microsoft Store again. I repeated my search on “Windows Terminal.” Lo and behold, it offered an Install button this time. When I clicked that option, it downloaded and installed the latest version. As you can see from the lead-in graphic above, the result was a current version of Windows Terminal, which runs PowerShell version 7.2.5 by default. Fixed!

When Windows Apps Get Wonky…

When apps start going sideways, I go through a drill to clean them up. This drill consists of the following steps:

    1. Visit the Store, look up the app and see what it offers. Apply any resulting upgrades or installs. If this doesn’t work, go on to
    2. Use PowerShell and Winget to find the name of the package for the app in question. Here,  winget list terminal reports that name is Microsoft.WindowsTerminal.
    3. You can use winget to uninstall, then reinstall the package as follows:
      winget uninstall Microsoft.WindowsTerminal. Then,
      winget install Microsoft.WindowsTerminal
      will install the current version.

Most of the time — as in this instance — if the Store offers options, they will usually suffice to fix app issues. Steps 2 and 3 are only needed when the app itself is somehow damaged or corrupt.

Put this in your bag of Windows 10 and 11 tricks. It could come in handy someday!

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KB5015684 Provides Quick Windows 10 22H2 Upgrade

Here’s an interesting item. Turns out that MS has made KB5015684 available through its update servers. Thanks to the team at DeskModder.de you can find x86, x64 and ARM64 versions of either .CAB or .MSU files. All have links of the form https://catalog.s.download.windowsupdate.com/c/upgr/2022/07/windows10.0-kb5015684-xxx.cab or .msu. They must be legit, right? Hence my claim that KB501864 provides quick Windows 10 22H2 upgrade.

I just ran it on my production Windows 10 PC, and it went through without hitch or glitch. Completed in under 2 minutes, including download, install and reboot time, too. May be worth a try for those with Windows 10 PCs not expected to elevate to Windows 11 soon (or ever). So far, I see no discernable changes in look, feel, or behavior — just a new Build number 19045 (vs. 19044). Same minor extension as before, in fact: 1826.

What KB501864 Provides Quick Windows 10 22H2 Upgrade Really Means

Two things:
1. MS is getting close enough to a 22H2 public release for a preview to go out.
2. The code for the 22H2 release is stable enough to start it through the Windows Insider program.
Note: I didn’t have to join the Insider program to install this update, which appears as a “Quality Update” in Update History. The Windows Insider Program page on this PC, post-update, does NOT show itself as “joined-up” either. So one need not be concerned that applying the update automagically changes the PC’s status to that of an Insider machine. That’s a relief!

I ran the .MSU x64 version of the upgrade, simply because a self-installing update file is a little easier to apply than CAB files can sometimes be. You can find all links in the original Deskmodder.de article (6 files in all). It might be a good idea to apply this upgrade to test machines with some caution, if you’re concerned about possible unwanted side effects. That didn’t stop (or hurt) me on this PC, though…

If you’re interested, have at it. Cheers!

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Windows 11 Dev Channel Upgrades Itself

Well, then. I’ve just returned from a week-long absence to visit my son’s chosen college in Boston. Today is my first work day back in the office since July 15. Imagine my surprise and delight when I see that my two Dev Channel test machines upgraded themselves without issue while I was gone. Indeed, that explains my claim that Windows 11 Dev Channel upgrades itself to Build 25163.1010.

If Windows 11 Dev Channel Upgrades Itself, What Then?

Less worry and work for me is always good. And it’s great to observe that Windows 11 can handle itself well. That goes double, when I’m not around to babysit the upgrade process. In fact, my current observations tell me that recent,  ongoing Dev Channel upgrades have been fast, easy and relatively trouble-free.

There’s always a potential jinx when stating claims like the preceding one on the record. I’m prepared to deal with what might be coming my way. I’m still in the habit of making an image backup after each and every upgrade, and regular, periodic backups besides. That way, should I shoot myself in the foot (or Windows 11 do that for me) I’m ready to roll back and recover with minimum effort.

What Update History Has to Say…

On the X12 Hybrid and the X380 Yoga, the number of Feature Updates in Update History is 19, as far back as February 24,  2022. That’s 19 upgrades over 22 weeks. Do the math, and it comes to once every 8.05 days.

I can recall only one or two issues that came along during this period that slowed down or stymied backup. I did have to reset WU on the X12 Hybrid at one point. I also recall having to download and install an ISO on each machine at least once (or perhaps twice) during this time frame.

Overall, though, even though the Dev Channel builds are as close to “the bleeding edge” as MS lets Insider Program members get, it’s been a mostly positive and pleasant experience. Though plenty of people have beefs with Windows 11, I am NOT one of them. I think it’s a good OS. It’s also almost far enough along that enterprises should really start looking at (and planning for) large-scale migrations. When the Windows 11 22H2 Upgrade appears in coming months, that would be an excellent signal to get upgrade/migration testing and pilot programs underway.

It’s long been traditional for Windows users in businesses to wait for “the next upgrade” after a new OS emerges before getting serious about migration. In view of that history, the upcoming release of 22H2 says it’s time to get ready. My experience with all versions of Windows 11 so far argues that migration should be relatively painless. Time will tell!

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Build 25158 Camera App Reworked

The latest Dev Channel build includes a new iteration of the venerable Camera app. Indeed, in Build25158 Camera app reworked includes a brand-new, much sparser interface with simplified controls. No settings at all, in fact, as far as I can tell.

If Build 25158 Camera App Reworked, Then What?

Contrast that look and feel from the lead-in image with the Windows 10 version (from higher up in the same baker’s rack in my office). Settings are shown this time at left in the following screencap.

Build 25158 Camera App Reworked.win10-compare

Am I wrong to see the lack of more detailed controls as a loss of capability? [Click image for full-sized view.]

Indeed, most image manipulation is a post-processing task. But I occasionally found it useful to use some of the various controls that the old Camera app made available but which — as far as I can tell — the new Camera app does not. Particularly, the framing grid for image selection and layout help, and the photo quality and aspect ratio controls. To me, this turns the new camera into a more limited, image grab only, kind of function. It’s OK, but it’s not as flexible as the older version.

Running Against the Grain

This is kind of interesting, because most of the new-version or reworked apps showing up in Windows 11 include added functionality and capability, rather than a reduction in same. Favorite example: the sometimes elusive tab feature in File Explorer. Although it has turned into something of a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t phenom in recent Dev and Beta Channel builds, I do like it and think it represents a useful (if not long overdue) extension to what that tool can do.

The camera changed are described in a a July 13 Windows Blog. It does apparently gain improved QR and barcode scanning. The biggest accolade reads “match the beautiful new look and feel of Windows 11.” It says nothing about the banishment of Settings and related controls. Go figure!

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Choose Reflect Backup Drives Carefully

I’m a HUGE fan of Macrium Reflect. Available in both free and for-a-fee forms, I’m convinced it’s the best Windows image backup tool available today. Disclosure: I run both free and fee-based versions, and own a Home 4-Pack license that I upgrade as new versions are released. I was reminded to choose Reflect backup drives carefully yesterday, when I targeted an older USB 3 drive with mSATA SSD devices under its hood. Let me explain…

Why Say: Choose Reflect Backup Drives Carefully?

Because the read and write speeds of the underlying device and the speed of the channel (USB 3.1 in my case here) matter. In fact, they strongly affect the time it takes to complete a whole-image backup. In targeting an mSATA device that backup took nearly 40 minutes to complete.

I’m making the same backup right now, and targeting a PCIe x3 NVMe SSD in a Sabrent USB-C enclosure right now. As you can see from the lead-in graphic, Macrium Reflect currently guesstimates it will take 19 minutes to complete. That’s just over 50% faster than the mSATA number, or about 20 minutes overall.

If such a task is running in the background, and can complete whenever it’s done, that doesn’t matter much. But if, as in my case, I was waiting on completion to do something else, it matters a lot.

And There’s More…

While watching the NVMe and mSATA image backups proceed, I noticed another difference. The transfer rate for the two backups not only differed but so did their variability. The NVMe device kept getting faster as it proceeded. It ranged from a low of 1.1 Gbps to a high of 1.8 Gbps. The mSATA device started out at around 600 Mbps, It dropped as low as 220 Mbps, and as high as 1.0 Gbps during the course of the backup process.

Upon completion, Reflect also shared other stats worth noting. The overall read rate for the mSATA device was reported at 1.6 Gbps, while its write rate came in at a less stellar 550 Mbps. On the NVMe device, the overall read rate was 6.6 Gbps, and the write rate 1.9 Gbps. That’s a BIG difference, and explains the title for this story. Yes, these numbers appear inflated because they take compression into account. But those are the numbers that Reflect reports, and they do underscore the importance of device read/write speeds.

Note: Actual time for the NVMe backup was 19:31, while actual time for the mSATA backup was 39:52.

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