All posts by Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

Finding New Windows 11 Shutdown Dialog Box

Here’s an interesting bit of administrivia. Upon reading at OnMSFT that MS had snazzed up its Dev Channel dialog box for Windows 11, I went looking for same. That proved a bit more challenging than I initially expected. But I eventually got past finding new Windows 11 Shutdown dialog box, and made it appear. It serves, in fact, as the lead-in graphic for this very story (see above).

It Was Tricky, Finding New Windows 11 Shutdown Dialog Box

The usual method is to employ the Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut. But on my Lenovo X12 hybrid tablet PC that did precisely nothing. Then I found a source with something like this tell-tale sentence:

On some laptops it may also be necessary to press the Function (Fn) Key as well.

That turned out to be just the trick I needed to get the keyboard shortcut to work. Indeed, it’s what allowed me to produce — and then screen capture — the lead-in image for this story.

What IS New in Dev Channel Shutdown Dialog Box?

It’s kind of hard to tell just from the screenshot what’s new. For comparison, here’s what the Windows 10 version looks like:

Notice it prominently features the Windows 10 logo at the top of the dialog box. Notice also its corners are squared, not rounded. AFAIK that’s about it for what’s new.

That said, in keeping with a sparer and more spacious UI in Windows 11, it’s a bit easier on the eyes. IMO it’s also a bit easier to read and understand. For me, the learning came from producing the dialog box more than its contents. But hey, that’s why I have so much fun messing around with Windows. Cheers!

 

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Could Build 22621 Be RTM Version?

With some consistency and frequency, most of my go-to Windows news sources report the same thing. That is: the latest Beta Channel Build 2221, is likely to go out to OEMs as the “Release to Manufacturing” (RTM) version for Windows 11. This raises the question “Could Build 22621 be RTM version?” I’m inclined to believe it might be, so please let me explain why. . .

Repeat: Could Build 22621 Be RTM Version?

Here are my reasons for believing that indeed, 22621 could be an RTM candidate if not THE RTM candidate for Windows 11:

Timing: MS has promised a 22H2 Windows 11 release, which means sometime between July 1 and December 31, 2022. Given that the usual delay from RTM to public release varies from as little as 12 to as long as 20 weeks over the life of Windows 10, a similar range seems likely for 11 as well. Given 22621 came out on May 11, that would put general availability between July 27 and September 21. This makes good sense to me. OEMs need time to get their collective acts together, and to get ready to deploy new images for the next feature update on their (mostly) consumer grade equipment.

Insider Channel Divergence: As I reported here on May 12, 22621 represents the divergence of Beta and Dev Channel Insider versions. MS forked the Insider channels so it could concentrate on the next Feature update in the Beta Channel, while working on future features for a presumptive 23H2 release in the Dev Channel. Stands to reason they’d have forked when they were getting close enough to recognize a possible RTM in the Beta Channel.

22621 Announcement blog post: Combine the opening statement of “small set of fixes” with “preview experiences that are closer to what we will ship to our general customers” and you get something pretty much like a “closing in on RTM” impression from this post.

Winver Label: look it says right in the lead-in graphic “Version 22H2.” What more do you want by way of (potential) proof?

It’s Not a Sure Thing, But…

Indeed, MS will make changes to 22621 as and when user telemetry indicates a need for same. That goes double if bug reports start proliferating. But, absent such spurs to additional action and related changes, 22621 seems pretty close to what is probably already going into OEM intake processes. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted as things develop from here!

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8GadgetPack Repair Fail Fixed

I had an “Oh no!” moment yesterday. After upgrading my Lenovo X12 tablet to Dev Channel Build 25115, I went through the usual post-upgrade drill. Because the installer always kills fave tool 8GadgetPack, developer Helmut Buhler has created a run-once repair tool that restores gadgets to working order afterward. It shows up as Restore Gadgets on the desktop, and must be double-clicked to run. For the first time ever, I experienced an 8GadgetPack repair fail yesterday. Ouch!

[NOTE] The Restore Gadgets script shows up in Recycle Bin in the lead-in graphic because it’s smart enough to delete itself once it runs.

What made it an “Oh no!” moment was that I feared it meant the demise of Gadgets from Dev Channel desktops once  and for all. Gadgets were obsoleted back in the Windows 7 days, ostensibly for security reasons (though I’ve never run  into, nor heard of, actual Gadget-related exploits). And for a time after the upgrade, all of my attempted repairs didn’t work.

How I Got 8GadgetPack Repair Fail Fixed

This only affected one of my two Dev Channel PCs, as it turns out. Once I realized the repair was bollixed on the X12, I tried it on the Lenovo X380 Yoga. Worked like a charm! That was comforting, because I knew it was something with the X12 itself, and not a general failure.

Here’s what I tried before coming up with the actual fix itself:

1. Re-ran the repair tool (no go).
2. Re-ran the repair tool with elevated privileges (didn’t do it)
3. Downloaded and ran the 8gadgetpack.msi file from 8gadgetpack.net (no luck there, either)

But when I tried #3, I got an error message that said to go to Control Panel → Programs and Features and attempt repairs from there. When the right-click menu for 8GadgetPack popped up, it included a “Repair” option. And when I ran the repair that way, it worked. Go figure!

Upon Closer Inspection…

In trying to figure out what happened, I opened up Reliability Monitor and looked at the day’s error and event reports. Sure enough, 8GadgetPack appeared in the form of a couple of Warning messages.

Something about running the repair tool from the desktop led to what ReliMon reports as an “unsuccessful application reconfiguration.” Apparently, the same problem does not apply to running it within a Control Panel item. Thus, I learned a new workaround and brought my beloved 8GadgetPack back from unnecessary oblivion. Other fans of ever-handy Windows Gadgets should be cheered thereby as well. Good stuff!

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Windows 11 Dev Beta Channels Diverge

OK, what had been joined is now put asunder. Yesterday, Windows 11 Dev Channel went to Build 25115, and Beta Channel to Build 22621. This means that the two Insider Previews are now different. In fact, when Windows 11 Dev Beta channels diverge, it means they have different goals. According to WindowsLatest, 22621 represents a big push toward the first feature update for Windows 11. OTOH, 25115 shows that MS is still pushing forward into future releases looking into 2023 and the “next” feature update upcoming.

When Windows 11 Dev Beta Channels Diverge, Then What?

Among other things, this explains why MS broadcast an email warning to Dev Channel Insiders last week that “unstable and buggy preview builds will soon begin rolling out in the Dev Channel” (source: WindowsLatest,  May 8). In other words, the Dev Channel is returning to its primary role as a “first exposure” to new features, functions, and whatnot making its way into limited circulation for testing and feedback. Frankly, I’m looking forward to this.

As for the Beta Channel, it’s gearing up for progressively more locked down snapshots of what will become the 22H2 release for Windows 11. Thus, it should become an increasingly accurate rendition of the next production Windows 11 release. Again: I look forward to this, too.

You can see the Winver output from these two different versions in the lead-in graphic for this story. The Dev Channel release (Build 25115.1000) is to the left.The Beta Channel release (Build 22621.1) is to the right.

Fun and Foibles A’Comin…

With a more freehwheeling and experimental take on Windows 11 coming to the Dev Channel, life is about to get more interesting. Who knows? There may be bugs or hiccups to detect and report, and trouble to shoot. That’s why I signed up for the Insider program, and why I’m looking forward to more new stuff ahead. Sure, there may be instability and bugs. But that’s a good thing in the interests of getting things out there, and then getting them right. Cheers!

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RDP Goes MIA Following KB4014650 Update

Yesterday (May 10) was Patch Tuesday. A plethora of updates hit for Windows 10 and 11 across most versions. Right now, various Windows news outlets are reporting issues with some of the updates just released. Naturally, I wanted to check to see if any of my PCs were affected, In reaching out to my various systems, I noticed RDP goes MIA following KB4014650 update to at least one of my Windows 11 Dev Channel PCs.

FWIW, that’s different from issues reported elsewhere (see this WindowsLatest story for an example). Most revolve around issues related to .NET Framework 3.5 problems.

Fixing RDP Goes MIA Following KB4014650 Update

On my Lenovo X12 Hybrid, the symptoms of trouble were easy to spot. Even though the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 dock remained plugged in, the system saw neither its GbE connection, nor the nominal 5TB HDD plugged into one of its USB-C ports. Thus I knew something was up with peripheral connections. Fortunately, an unplug/re-plug operation brought both the dock and the drive back into service.

One of my X380 Yogas was unaffected by the update, and RDP kept working as always. Amusingly, the second instance (both machines are identical except that one has a Toshiba/Kioxa SSD, while the other has a Samsung, of which both are OEM varieties) did not come up right away. A visit to Settings → System → Remote Desktop to turn Remote Desktop off, then turn it back on, did the trick for this machine.

Neither fix was a big deal: each was obvious and thus easily identified, and likewise easy to fix. I can only wish all my Windows problems were this lacking in subtlety and amenable to repair. Long experience teaches me otherwise.

Shades of Other Days & Other Fixes

I can remember days when Windows 10 updates would routinely mess with my Network and Sharing Center settings. Advanced sharing settings for Private, Guest or Public, and All Network elements would routinely revert to their defaults. So then, I would have to re-set them to the way I wanted them to be. This latest set of issues strikes me as something in that vein. Hopefully, it will be just a one-time blip rather than a new continuing gotcha. Time will tell: I’ll keep watching, and report what I find. Stay tuned!

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Windows 11 OS Purchase Follies

OK, then: MS is making Windows 11 available for purchase in the form of boxed USB flash drives for both Pro and Home versions. Take a look at this Amazon Search and you’ll find prices all over the place. This could easily lead to Windows 11 OS purchase follies for those willing to shop around . . . and around . . . and around. The lead-in graphic shows one instance for US$149 for Windows 11 Pro, despite MSRPs of US$199 for that same version, and US$139 for Home.

What Makes Windows 11 OS Purchase Follies Likely?

A quick look at the search results show that prices range from a low of US$112 or so to a high of US$199 for Pro, and US$99 to a high of US$139 for Home. Given that it’s new to the market, I’d expect the range to widen and the number of options to skyrocket.This could make shopping overly interesting, if you ask me.

On the other hand, VG Soft is currently offering Windows 10 Pro in boxed, USB form for a mere US$85 on Amazon. The tag line on the product listing itself says: “free upgrade to Windows 11.” Why on earth pay more for native Windows 11 (either flavor) when you can get Pro for US$27-115 less?

I can’t think of a single good reason, either. As long as Windows 10 is cheaper than 11, and the free upgrade offer stands, this is surely the best way to go. That is, unless you have unused, valid Windows 7 or 8 keys around: those you can still upgrade to 11 as well, entirely for free.

Cheers!

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Easy Start Menu Search Repair

Although I use Stardock’s alternative menu programs on Windows 10 and 11, I also use the built-in Start menu, too. it’s especially good at taking me straight to Windows 10 apps through its search box. That’s true, however, only as long as that search function is working. This weekend, I ran into a situation where it quit doing its thing. Fortunately, I found an easy Start menu search repair technique. Let me share it with you…

What’s the Easy Start Menu Search Repair Technique?

Once again, it’s a matter of jumping into Task Manager to restart Windows Explorer. Note: this also means a restart works equally well (though it takes longer). Why? Because it, too, automatically resets Explorer as part of that overall process.

Here are the steps involved:
1. Open Task Manager (on Windows 10, you can right-click the taskbar and select the Task Manager entry or use CTRL-SHIFT-ESC key combo; on Windows 11, only the latter works).

2. Look for Windows Explorer on the Processes tab. If absent, open an instance from the Taskbar (or your favorite other means). Right-click the entry, then select Restart from the pop-up menu.

That’s it. It won’t work 100% of the time, but it does work most of the time. If it fails, then it’s time to start considering other, more serious windows repairs. These include using DISM and SFC, running the Windows Troubleshooter, an in-place upgrade repair install, and other tried and true repairs.

Fortunately, none of those proved necessary for me this weekend. AND I was able to resume my Solitaire session without having to find the App alphabetically instead. (Note: even when search was munged, that still worked…)

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Windows 11 Build 22616 Updates Itself All Over

It’s not often I get to say this. That’s why I’m going to celebrate an unusual occurrence. What does “Windows 11 Build 22616 Updates Itself All Over” mean? Glad you asked! It means all three of my test machines updated themselves without any effort on my part. That hasn’t happened in quite some time, so I’ll say “Hurrah!”

Is Windows 11 Build 22616 Updates Itself All Over Good?

You bet! It means that a Dev/Beta release is solid enough to get past my admittedly tiny gauntlet with nary a glitch nor hiccup. And, at the same time, I got all of my production Windows 11 PCs (of which I currently also have three) past the KB5012159 update without issue as well.

It’s not often I get to pat MS on the back for a job well done. Honestly, I’m tickled to see things working just the way they’re supposed to, even if it’s just for today. What a treat! Good work, you guys, especially the whole @WindowsInsiders team.

Other Problems Manifest and Persist, Tho…

That doesn’t mean everything with my PC fleet here at Chez Tittel is sunshine and roses. It’s just that MS isn’t currently on the hook with me right now. Just yesterday I had a fascinating but frustrating encounter with Nvidia trying to make my login to GeForce Experience work. I had to go through three rounds of password reset before I could login to the dag-blamed application.

Of all the issues I fight regularly, logins, passwords and account management are probably the most time-consuming and pointless uses of my time. Indeed, I will confess that there are certain sites or services I can’t login into using Chrome that work in Firefox (same account, password and originating IP address), and vice-versa. I’ve never been able to figure that one out. I just hope to remember which one to use to get things right ASAP.

As anybody who’s tilled the PC patch for any length of time knows, “It’s always something.” Stay tuned: I’ll keep documenting my issues and learning as things go forward. But today, MS gets my thanks and a weekend pass to the fleshpots of its choosing. I’ll buy the beer!

About Mr. Holmes and The Curious Incident

That occurred in Doyle’s 1892 story “The Silver Blaze which included this bit of dialog between himself and a Yard detective, to wit:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

Thus, my point with the reference was that nothing odd, weird or negative happened with 22616. And again, a pat on the back and thanks to the MS developers for that very thing.

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Checking Windows DotNET Versions Installed

A recent Windows news story reports that “KB5012643 for Windows 11 breaks .NET Framework 3.5 apps” (WindowsReport). This raises some interesting questions for Windows 11 users. For some, it apparently renders certain apps inoperable. Indeed, the bug highlights the value of checking Windows DotNET versions installed on a given PC.

So I did a little research, and learned there are at least two methods to run this info down. In fact, MS offers a multi-page Docs item that explains how to do it using PowerShell. Belgian-based software developer (and former MVP) Nick Asseloos’ ASoft company goes another way. It offers a free download named .NET Version Detector. Its output provides the lead-in graphic for this story.

What Checking Windows DotNET Versions Installed Tells You

As you can see by examining the lead-in graphic. the detector provides information of several kinds, conveniently listed in order from top to bottom by row:

Row1: Versions of the MIcrosoft .NET Framework Installed. In my example, it shows older versions to the left (2.0, 3.0, and 3.5, with SP levels),and current versions to the right (4.8, with latest update level).

Row2: Extra Details show the folder locations for the various frameworks installed. It also shows names and levels for frameworks installed as well (mostly relevant to 4.x versions), plus languages and updates (mostly a bunch of KB article identifiers).

Row3: .NET Core versions installed for 64-bit (left) and 32-bit (right) enviornments. Given my machines all run Windows 10 or 11, 32-bit is mostly MIA.

How ‘Bout Going the Other Way ‘Round?

OK, we know now how to determine what .NET versions are installed on a Windows PC. What about figuring out which applications use some specific .NET framework? That’s a bit trickier. The only sure-fire method I could find was to fire up SysInternals Process Explorer. There’s a tab named “.NET Assemblies” that shows up whenever a process that includes same gets highlighted.

This means you can find out which .NET versions are in use primarily by observation and inspection. Stack Overflow has an article that explains how to automate this process for managed processes using C# or PowerShell. I’ll leave that as an “exercise for the reader” for those inclined to work out to that extent!

[Note: this story gives a shout out to the redoubtable Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks, whose 2014 story (updated 2018) introduced me to ASoft .NET Version Detector. Nochmals vielen Dank! (Thanks very much again!)]

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Yoga 7 BIOS Confusion

Looking over Windows news this morning, I was concerned to read reports regarding BIOS problems on some Lenovo Legion laptops. For many such devices, the Lenovo Vantage app is the tool of choice for BIOS, firmware, driver and other system updates. Even though I own no Legion-labeled Lenovos, I’ve got 5 other Lenovo laptops in my office right now. Indeed, I found my own small issue amidst that pack: let me call it Yoga 7 BIOS confusion, so I can explain what’s up.

If you look at the lead-in image above, you’ll see that Vantage wants to update the BIOS. However, upon closer inspection the version of BIOS it wants to install (box at center right, from Vantage Device details) is the version already in place (Speccy info at bottom right). What gives?

Explaining Yoga 7 BIOS Confusion

If  I click on the details that Lenovo provides with the Vantage update recommendation, I get this pop-up message: Oho! It’s not because the wrong version is installed; it’s because the tool can’t detect the version info. But Speccy cheerfully — and accurately — found that data (see lead-in graphic). Thus, I have to conclude there are unknown but obvious issues with BIOS update functions in Lenovo Vantage. I’m reporting this to Lenovo through their bug reporting channels.

Just for grins, I checked the Store to see if a Vantage update might be available. It was. And upon running the tool again, it also upgraded its underlying services. Another check for updates took some time to complete, but eventually produced the same recommendation shown above.

Knowing Why Helps, But Not Enough…

It’s great to understand why the tool is recommending a spurious update. It saves from spending the same to apply same unnecessarily. On the whole, I’d rather it were fixed by the most recent update to version 10.2204.14.0. But that’s the way things sometimes go here in Windows-World. I hope my little exercise can help to shed a little light on how to check if the updates that Vantage recommends are really needed.

I won’t be updating my BIOS until a version comes along that’s different from the one that’s currently installed. FWIW, I recommend you do likewise. Cheers!

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