Windows 10 WU Offers 22H2 Upgrade

Upon reading reports to that effect, I just confirmed that Windows 10 WU offers 22H2 Upgrade on the Boss’s Dell OptiPlex 7080 Micro PC. You can see the offer in the preceding graphic. At the same time, you can also see the offer to upgrade to Windows 11 in the right-hand column of the same Window. I reproduce this below. It’s got a 10th Gen Intel i7 CPU, so no problem meeting the Windows 11 hardware requirements.

With its 10th-Gen Intel CPU, TPM support, and so forth, this PC is more than ready for Windows 11.

Sold: Windows 10 WU Offers 22H2 Upgrade

The Boss has decided to stick with Windows 10. She’s not interested in an OS upgrade, and will wait until she MUST switch. Or perhaps something new will come along in the interim. On a 3-year cadence for major Windows versions with an EOL date for Windows 10 on October 14, 2024, that could get interesting.

It raises the question of whether Windows 10 will retire before the next version comes along, or if that version will precede its planned demise. According to the date calculator, that’s still 2 years, 10 months, 1 week and 2 days away (973 days) in the offing. Plenty of time for her to figure out which way she wants to go.

Refresh and Upgrade, or Just Upgrade?

Lots of other users will be pondering the timing of their next upgrade transitions between now and October 14, 2025. Many will decide to refresh their hardware as they transition to a new OS. I can see a kind of “lost generation” for Windows 11 as a result.

It will be quite interesting to see how PC sales look over the next 2-plus years for the same reasons. The trade-off looks very much like: wait for the next Windows version and budget for new PCs versus refresh earlier and upgrade to Windows 11. Could get interesting…

 

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 22H2 Upgrade Recalls Windows Past

Holy Ebeneezer! I had a major shot of deja vu yesterday. In preparing for son Gregory’s lightning home visit for Turkeyday, I found myself updating the B550 Ryzen 7 5800X PC I built to mirror the one he took to school with him in late August. Try as I might, I couldn’t get Windows 11 updated to 22H2 on that system using only Windows Update. My subsequent contortions in completing that Windows 22H2 upgrade recalls Windows past. I’ll explain…

How Windows 22H2 Upgrade Recalls Windows Past

Going back to the days of Windows 3.X, I can remember countless upgrade installs to transition from an older to a newer Windows version. That drill goes something like this for as far back as I can recall:

1. Run setup.exe from install media (first diskettes, then CDs, then DVDs, then streaming downloads)
2. Perform all the steps of the upgrade process: GUI-based install, reboot, then post-GUI install with 2 or 3 reboots along the way
3. Download and apply updates from Windows Update
4. Repeat Step 3, ad nauseam ad infinitum, until no more updates are available

I can remember when the time required to complete steps 3 & 4 took waaaaaaaaaay longer than the time required for the first 2 steps. And, especially in the days of reading physical media, that initial time frame was nothing to sneeze at.

Since Windows Vista/7 Everything Is Changed…

That was roughly the era during which physical media gave way pretty much entirely to online downloads and access. Since those versions emerged, the time to install or upgrade Windows has also dropped from a typical 45 minutes to an hour, to something more like 18 – 25 minutes. And MS is doing a much, much, much better job of slipstreaming updates into official image downloads these days, so the seemingly endless sequence of updates that followed a clean install or an upgrade even for Windows Vista and 7, is now much less intense and onerous.

But yesterday, I got a chance to taste what I hadn’t experienced in quite a while. I went through three rounds of updates on 21H2 before I realized WU wasn’t going to upgrade it to 22H2. Then, I visited the Download Windows 11 page and ran the Installation Assistant (depicted in the lead-in graphic above). That got my PC to 22H2. Then I ran another two rounds of updates (the first brought half-a-dozen items to that PC, the second only one).

That got the B550 Ryzen PC current with Windows 11 22H2. It wasn’t exactly like the “good old days,” really. But it was close enough to jog my memory about the way things used to work when dinosaurs roamed the earth and 16 MB was a HUGE amount of RAM.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

No Remote WinSAT No Batteries

In following up on yesterday’s memory training item, I started messing about with WinSAT. For those not already clued in, WinSAT stands for Windows System Assessment Tool. As it turns out, such assessment depends on steady, reliable power and “close to the metal” access to the PC it’s assessing. That’s why, I believe that MS says “You cannot run formal assessments remotely or on a computer that is running on batteries.” (Using WinSAT). Hence the assertion: no remote WinSAT no batteries.

If No Remote WinSAT No Batteries, Then What?

A formal assessment on WinSAT runs a whole battery of checks. You can still do feature-by-feature checks remotely (just not the whole thing). Here are the results of WinSAT mem over a remote connection to one of my 2018 vintage Lenvo X380 Yoga ThinkPads:

No Remote WinSAT No Batteries.rem-mem

A single feature check — mem, or memory — does work remotely.

But if I run the whole suite (WinSAT formal) in the same PowerShell session, I get an error message instead:

No Remote WinSAT No Batteries.rem-formal

Going formal with WinSAT “cannot be run remotely…”. No go!

Such things lead to head-scratching from yours truly. I can kind of get it because it’s undoubtable that the remote connection is going to affect results reported because of the time involved in remote communications. But why allow checks one-at-a-time, but not all-at-once? MS is mum on this subject, so I’m not getting any insight there. It could be that singleton checks add relatively little overhead, but that cumulative effect of an entire suite of same adds noticeable delay. Who knows?

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

P16 Posts Mysterious Memory Training Message

OK: here’s a new one on me. This weekend, I updated the UEFI on the Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation. Along that update path, the P16 posts mysterious memory training message. Something along the lines of “the screen will go dark for 2 minutes while the system performs memory training.” I’d not enountered this terminology before so I was taken aback. Turns out it’s a well-known thing, tho…

Learning Ensues When P16 Posts Mysterious Memory Training Message

Apparently memory training — or as Lenovo calls it in the P16 Maintenance manual: “memory retraining” — can happen after hardware changes or following UEFI updates. Online research eventually led me to a document that explained what’s going on. It’s called DDR4 SRAM: Initialization, Training and Calibration, and it’s darned informative. In fact, it’s worth a read-through for those interested in going beyond the basics I’ll present here.

For my purposes, it was enough to know the following:

1. Device or firmware changes can affect memory timing and performance
2. Training uses an iterative approach to altering timing values
3. It converges on settings that provide a workable trade-off between speed (faster performance) and stability (fault-free memory access)
4. If your motherboard uses JEDEC timings, training/retraining is not usually required (or performed)

In fact, it’s a lot like what I used to read at Tom’s Hardware about over-clocking PC memory back in the late 1990s. Start from a safe setting, increment and try. If it works, increment again. Repeat until a failure occurs. Back off to the preceding increment. Done!

Changes Sometime Cause (Re)Training

The bottom line is that what I was entirely normal. I’d either never seen or never noticed such warnings before, but they’re typical following hardware (usually RAM module swap-outs) or firmware (including UEFI) changes. Now I know. And it gave me a good excuse to download and read around the maintenance manual for the P16. That’s always fun, too.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023

Here it comes, I guess. MS is reminding Windows 8.1 users that its end-of-life (EOL) is imminent. With Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023 just around the corner, what else is MS saying? Find out in their Support article entitled “Windows 8.1 support will end on January 10, 2023.” Intentionally or not, it includes some amusing stuff. It also speaks to their philosophy and stance regarding Windows 11.

After Windows 8.1 EOL January 2023, Then What?

The afore-linked MS support article actually calls the transition that will occur on January 10, 2023 “end of support.” But because most readers know what EOL means I used it here. MS also recommends upgrading Windows 8.1 devices “to a more current, in-service, and supported Windows release.”

If Statcounter is correct, as of October 31, 2022, Windows 8.1 held a desktop market share of 2.45%. MS also puts the size of the combined Windows 10 and 11 device or OS instance population at 1.5B. That’s in keeping with Earthweb’s total count estimate from August 2022 of 1.6B. Statcounter grants Windows 10 and 11 combined 86.71% of the global desktop tally. By my reckoning, therefore, that puts the possible number of 8.1 devices at just over 42M.

Upgrade to Windows 11 on a New PC

MS also recommends for Windows 8.1 devices that don’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements, that users “replace the device with one that supports Windows 11.” Indeed, it makes sense when refreshing PC hardware to go as modern and forward leaning as possible.

In fact, Windows 8.1 made its public debut (GA) on October 17, 2013. This date calculator tells me that was 9 years, 1 month, and 1 day ago as of today, November 18, 2022. That makes it almost inevitable that hardware purchased on or before the 2013 date doesn’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements. The Gen8 “boundary date” actually falls in 2017-2018 time range.

What Happens to 8.1 After EOL (or EOS)?

MS won’t be offering an ESU (Extended Security Update) program for Windows 8.1. Thus it will no longer receive technical support, software updates, and security patches or fixes. According to WinAero, “Microsoft’s own products including Office 365 and the Store app will stop working.” That should be enough to convince most business users that it really is time to get off that bus.

For me, some of the humor in this otherwise doleful situation comes from Windows 8 and 8.1 general marketplace fate. It was never that popular to begin with, nor did it ever enjoy the kind of uptake in business that XP, 7 and Windows 10 achieved. To think that as many as 42M devices may be affected by this impending retirement is mostly a testament to how enormous the total Windows market really is. And to think it’s dwarfed by a factor of 3X or greater by smartphones is truly mind-boggling.

Even so, prodding a device population of 42 million onto Windows 11 and new PCs could be a boon to the sagging PC market. At a modest average price of $1K per unit (low for a business class PC nowadays, but higher for home/casual users) that’s a cool $42B in sales. It comes pretty close to “real money,” in my book.

Shout-Out to Sergey Tkachenko: the WinAero story cited in the concluding section of this story originally led me to the MS Support item that provides its focus and impetus. Thanks, Sergey!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

MS KIR Equals Known Issue Rollback

In reading about fallout from recent Windows 10 updates this morning, I learned something new. MS KIR equals Known Issue Rollback. It’s a group policy technique to reverse effects introduced by buggy updates. You can read about how to implement such policy in Microsoft Documentation.

This morning (November 17) news is out that some Windows 10 users may face a missing or non-responsive Taskbar — or even a black screen (depicted in the lead-in graphic). These come as “known issues” from recent updates. A responsive rollback is, in fact, already on its way to users.

Are GPOs Required for MS KIR Equals Known Issue Rollback?

That is an interesting question! Of course, GPOs only work in environments where centralized Group Policy management is in place, or where some means to deploy per-machine policies exists. So then: sometimes yes, sometimes no.

All this said, my source for this info (Neowin.net) makes some interesting observations about these potential Windows 10 gotchas:

Although the problem sounds scary, Microsoft has already implemented the necessary fixes and rolled back the troublemaking code to undo the damage. Affected devices should restore to normal operating mode within 24 hours. However, users can speed up the process by restarting their systems or applying a special Group Policy (only on enterprise-managed devices).

The bold emphasis in the preceding quote, of course, refers to a KIR GPO for those who wish to head trouble off pre-emptively and quickly. Those who don’t mind waiting should see the problem take care of itself within 24 hours of the offending update’s arrival. Sounds like a restart might also repair the issue, depending on timing.

According to that same Neowin story, MS has recently used KIR to fix problems related to Direct Access for remote network access without requiring a VPN connection. Seems like a handy technique for MS to correct its own missteps.

When KIR Could Help

The kind of undo capability inherent in KIR is likely to be most beneficial to small to mid-size operations. These may sometimes push Windows updates reasonably soon after they are released. Most larger organizations will batch updates for release during planned deployment windows (often, over holiday weekends). They tend to hold off on non-urgent updates and test them thoroughly before deploying anyway. Thus, they are less likely to need KIR than other, smaller and less sophisticated outfits.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

VM SSD Speed Falls Off

What did I expect, I wonder? I’ve been digging more deeply into VMs on the amazing Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation. (It’s got an i9-12950HX, 2TB PCIe x4 SSD, 128GB RAM, Quadro RTX A5500, and Windows 11 22H2.) Most of the time, the VM runs almost indistinguishably from the physical OS. But various IO metrics tell a different story: most tellingly, VM SSD speed falls off measurably. That applies both to the Virtual C: drive inside the VM, and when accessing external USB4 storage devices from the VM.

How Much VM SSD Speed Falls Off

By most metrics, it’s 2X or more. To be more specific, CrystalDisk-Mark results for the C: drive are about half across the board versus the internal Kioxia SSD. For the all-important random read/write 4K single thread, it’s worse than that (2.5X to 3X). Worse still, large file copies to external USB drives fall off a cliff: typical rates of 250-280 MBps fall to 60-70 MBps. This is shown from File Explorer inside the VM in the lead-in graphic above. Here’s a comparison from the physical machine:

VM SSD Speed Falls Off.phys-copy

Notice: USB speed is at least 4X faster on a physical PC vs. a VM.

Let’s Get Physical…

This actually provides an interesting justification for running certain workloads on physical rather than virtual PCs — namely, that IO and completion times can be dramatically affected. But given the convenience, flexibility and open-ended nature of VMs, this is not likely to matter that much except for highly specialized workloads where time is worth more than money.

Fascinating stuff, though — and great fun to play with. Check out the Get a Windows 11 development environment page at MS.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 10 Phone Link Eliminated

Dang! After messing about with PowerShell unsuccessfully, I turned to long-time fave 3rd-party tool Revo Uninstaller Free. Seems that Windows 10 doesn’t allow the Phone Link app to be uninstalled anymore. Sadly, the Uninstall option is greyed out in Settings. Likewise, I couldn’t get PowerShell Get-AppxPackage | Remove-AppxPackage to work, either. But if you turn to Revo Uninstaller, it delivers the goods: Windows 10 Phone Link eliminated.

Why I Want Windows 10 Phone Link Eliminated

Two reasons:

1. Phone Link only works with Android phones and I have iOS. Don’t use it, ever.
2. Update failed, then app “stopped working, around recent Store revisions.

If I can’t use an app AND it causes errors, I don’t need it. Thus, I want it gone!

Look at the lead-in graphic. I’ve put a red box around the listing item for the Phone Link app on my Windows 10 production desktop. Right-click on that item, and the first menu option is “Uninstall.” Pick that. Revo asks you to confirm that choice, as follows:

Windows 10 Phone Link Eliminated.confirm

Alas, PS does NOT show the command details it uses to pull this off. Sigh.

Revo Unsintaller works some PowerShell magic around the following text I copied:

Deployment operation progress: Microsoft.YourPhone_1.22092.211.0_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe

After removing the app, I used the Revo Uninstaller Scan functions to remove all leftovers from the Registry. It no longer shows up on my Windows 10 PCs — all both of them. I will be on the lookout for reappearances after CUs and feature upgrades, based on what I read online about how Phone Link keeps showing back up.

When it comes to “Windows pest removal” sometimes, repeated treatments may be required. LOL!

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Repair Upgrades PowerShell

Here’s something I didn’t know before. Or at least, I never tried it. Just recently (November 8) MS released a new 7.3.0 version of PowerShell to GitHub. I’ve been upgrading my various systems since, slowly but surely. This morning I learned that opting for Repair upgrades PowerShell. Let me show you what that means.

Showing How Repair Upgrades PowerShell

On some PCs, winget upgrade may not show the new PowerShell as an option. (I’ll use my Lenovo Yoga 7i as an illustration because it manifests such behavior.) You can see it’s running version 7.2.7 and that PowerShell does not show up in the output from winget upgrade below:


If that’s the case, here are the steps to using repair to upgrade PowerShell on such PCs:

1. CTRL-Click on the link that reads https://aka.ms/powershell. This opens the MS PowerShell Documentation page.
2. Click on the “Download PowerShell” button at the upper right. This takes you to the GitHub Latest release page for PowerShell (7.3.0, as I write this, but updated as new versions emerge). Then close all open PowerShell sessions.
3. Scroll down to assets and download the installer file for your PC (for most readers the 64-bit MSI is the right choice: PowerShell-7.3.0-win-x64.msi)
4. Run the microsoft self-installing (MSI) file to start PowerShell installation. Step through all the installer prompts. If the Repair option comes up, select it (shown in the lead-in graphic for this story). It will run and “fix” the current installation.

At the end of this process, you’ll have a working upgrade to version 7.3.0. Cheers!

What About Winget Upgrade Microsoft.Powershell?

Gosh! That works too but finishes strange. Let me show you, in the following screencap (click on image to view full-sized):

The output doesn’t actually confirm a successful install of PowerShell 3.7.0. It shows a progress bar, and a status of “Starting package install…” Then it transitions to a command prompt. In the background, the new version is installed and running. But because you’ve got a 7.2.7 window open, you don’t see the 7.3.0 label until you close the old window and open a new one.

It’s always something, right?

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager

Finally! I’ve been reading about — and seeing — cool changes to the Task Manager in Windows 11 for weeks and weeks. But only with Build 22623.891 for all of its users, Windows 11 Beta Channel gets improved Task Manager. What does this mean? Take a look at the lead-in screencap (and others below) and I’ll tell you more…

Woo-hoo! Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager

Let’s start with the lead-in graphic. Among the several improvements Task Manager now makes easily accessible in the 22623 fork of the Beta Channel, I can finally produce the Dark Theme. That’s what you see in that graphic, which makes for a more dramatic (but also visually sensible) set of CPU utilization graphs. Previously, this kind of thing was only accessible through ViveTool tweaks (which I avoid as a matter of practice).

What else is in there? You can search for processes by name in various Task manager panes (processes and details). The next screencap shows the results of a search for the ubiquitous svchost process in the Processes pane (notice it’s smart enough to map part of the .exe name to the related process names: cool!).

Windows 11 Beta Channel Gets Improved Task Manager.search

Notice that “Service Host” appears in nearly all of the elements shown as search results. Very helpful!

According to this story at WinAero from Sergey Tkakchenko, you can search on process name, ID or publisher with good results. That certainly worked for me.

One more thing: turning on “Efficiency mode” in Task Manager is now a right-click option from the Details pane. This lets users lower runtime priority to boost power efficiency, while upping stability risks. My example (e.g. the Chrome web browser) is an example of something you probably would NOT wish to run in this mode. For real.

Efficiency mode is easy to set, but should be approached with some caution.

I’m not sure I truly understand when or why to use Efficiency Mode (presumably on a tablet or laptop on battery power) but I’ll do some investigating and experimenting and see what’s up with that. Stay tuned! Should be fun…

In the meantime, I’m delighted to finally be able to see and exercise these Task Manager facilities for myself. If you have access to a Beta Channel Insider Preview, it’s worth updating to Build 22623.891 to see for yourself.

Facebooklinkedin
Facebooklinkedin

Author, Editor, Expert Witness