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.

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes

Very interesting. I’ve taken some time to explore and play with the latest Dev Channel build. Mostly notably Build 22610 brings Explorer TaskMgr changes to look and feel. You can see this pretty strongly in the Explorer screencap above, and in the Task Manager screencap that follows.

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes.taskmgr

Task Manager gets a cleaner, less cluttered look (Details view on display), but… [Click image for full-sized view.]

Build 22610 Brings Explorer TaskMgr Changes Explored

On the Explorer side of things, I see no toolbar ribbon in a sparser toolbar overall. Mouseover pop-ups require clicking a menu item before they’ll appear (I’m almost fluent in the new iconography, but occasionally need a reminder). The new look of the Details pane (far right) is pretty neat, IMO: I like the look and layout. That makes me more inclined to use it. Check out the new thumbnails view for a LOT more of the same kind of thing, too (icon at far lower right).

Switching over to Task Manager, the same sparse and spare look also comes into play . Navigation switches from a tab bar at the top to left nav icons. Again, I’m going to have to master the iconography, but mouseover pop-ups appear without doing anything to prompt them. There’s a new “Efficiency mode” right-click item on the Details pane that lowers power allocation and warns of potential resulting instability. Could be good for laptop/tablet users runnning on battery.  Lots of interesting changes so far. I need to explore further and learn more before I feel like I really understand all the differences. That should be fun!

Net-Net Nut

Overall, I’m liking what I’m seeing quite a bit. I’m coming to prefer the look, feel and behavior of Windows 11 over Windows 10. It’s been slow but steady coming on. These latest changes make the newer OS more compelling, visually, and two of its most common and important tools a little easier to work in and use. As far as I’m concerned, I give the latest version two solid thumbs up!

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KB5012643 Safe Mode Bug Gets KIR

What on earth does this article title mean? Glad you asked! KIR stands for Known Issue Rollback. Once a Windows 11 PC gets the cited KB installed, it may not run properly if booted into Safe Mode (no networking). MS suggests in its Known Issues discussion  that users boot into Safe Mode with Networking. This avoids looping Explorer crashes that otherwise cause screen flickering. Hopefully, the title now makes sense. KB5012643 Safe Mode bug gets KIR means MS will automatically apply a rollback of the offending feature to PCs that tag WU servers. A reboot is required for the fix to do its thing.

When KB5012643 Safe Mode Bug Gets KIR, What Happens?

You can learn more about Known Issue Rollback in a Windows IT Pro Blog post from March 2021. It’s entitled “Known Issue Rollback: Helping you keep Windows devices protected and productive.” Here’s what this item states.  KIR “… is an important Windows servicing improvement to support non-security bug fixes, enabling us to quickly revert a single, targeted fix to a previously released behavior if a critical regression is discovered.” In simpler terms, MS can tell WU to back out individual update package components.

Behind the scenes, policy settings either enable or disable code paths for “before” or “after” versions of code. If the “after” version is enabled, the update applies; if the “before” version is enabled, it reverts to the previous version.

Here’s how it works, quoted from the afore-linked post:

When Microsoft decides to rollback a bug fix in an update because of a known issue, we make a configuration change in the cloud. Devices connected to Windows Update or Windows Update for Business are notified of this change and it takes effect with the next reboot.

This is depicted in the lead-in graphic for this story.

Read the Post for More Deets…

There’s lots of great discussion in the Known Issue Rollback blog post. If you remain curious about its workings and capabilities, check it out. There’s also a much more technical exploration of KIRs from annoopcnair.com available for those who really want to get into the weeds. It covers details about managing and filtering group policies, and working with the KIR Policy Definitions Setup Wizard.  I didn’t know you could do that, so that makes this good stuff!

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Overlapping Taskbars Get Easy Fix

Here’s an interesting one. In running RDP sessions on my Windows 10 (Build 19044.1682) desktop, the local taskbar suddenly started covering the remote session taskbar. This happened immediately after I installed the latest Preview CU (KB5011831), and proved mildly bothersome. Once I figured out how to properly describe the problem, such overlapping taskbars get easy fix. This is another case where restarting Explorer in the host session’s Task Manager does the trick.

As often happens, finding a solution requires a proper problem statement. I used the search string “taskbar from windows 10 host session covers RDP session taskbar.” It was close enough for me to find numerous discussions, and to find a fix posted in January 2017.

How-to: Overlapping Taskbars Get Easy Fix

For those not already in the know, here’s  a step-by-step recitation of the “Restart Explorer” drill:

1. Open the Taskbar on the host PC (on Windows 10, right-clicking the taskbar produces a pop-up menu that includes Task manager; on Windows 10 or 11, CTRL-Shift-ESC opens it right up).

2. On the Processes pane find an instance of Windows Explorer. Right-click the item and Restart appears in the resulting pop-up menu. Click Restart to shut down and restart the Explorer process.

3. Wait a while: the taskbar will disappear. Then, its contents will reappear, sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly (never takes more than 20 seconds on any of my PCs, though).

When that process is complete, the host taskbar should obligingly disappear when you work in the RDP session window. At least, that’s how it works on my Windows 10 production desktop now. If the problem recurs, repeat the foregoing steps.

Not much to it, really. But good to know, should you ever find yourself in that situation. Cheers!

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Windows 11 Start Menu Video Ignites User Fury

Earlier this week, MS sent an email to Windows Insiders. It included a link to a YouTube video. It’s dated June 28, 2021. It’s entitled “Windows 11 Insider Story — How We Made the Start [Menu].” Alas, this revived but older piece about the Windows 11 Start menu ignites user fury worldwide. I mean: people are seriously aggravated.

Note: The comment obscured in the lead-in graphic by category data reads “It’s really easy to design something that you like…” A small part of the flap is that this sentiment is contrary to prevailing responses from actual Windows 11 users. While I’m not as taken aback as many on this topic, I’ve had my own issues with the Start Menu over the past 10 months, for sure.

Why Windows 11 Start Menu Video Ignites User Fury

Paul Thurrott’s coverage of this item makes a good example. In fact, it’s something of a nonpareil in its incredulity and scorn.  Thus, I quote the first bit to illustrate the reactions it’s provoking:

If you have any hope at all that Microsoft put any thought into the design of the Windows 11 Start Menu, do not watch this video. If on the other hand, you hate yourself and everything you care about, this is a fantastic way to develop a drinking problem.

I cannot believe they published this video. It makes what was bad even worse.

You can find similar stories at other Windows news and info outlets, including Windows Latest. In the current climate of misinformation, Microsoft’s blithe assertions about listening to and learning from user input is almost scary. But it’s a year old, people. And it’s based on the earliest version of Windows 11 ever previewed. Come on!

Houston … err, Redmond … We Have a Problem

Indeed, the Start Menu in Windows 11 has been a constant source of consternation, upset and sometimes outright hostility pretty since Day 1. Remember: the Windows 11 Insider Preview also went public on June 28, 2021. I’m a daily reader of all the active threads on ElevenForum.com. Thus, I can personally attest that the Windows 11 start menu is a constant and ongoing cause for chatter, comment, complaints and more.

This same impression is pretty consistent across all the public feedback channels I can easily access, including Microsoft Answers and various Microsoft forums. Ditto for chatter on the MS news and info sites. Thus, the video comes off as either disingenuous or seemingly, from some alternate reality.

All this said, the situation is somewhat a case of “Much ado about nothing.” The feedback from users is pretty consistent that the Windows 11 Start Menu still needs work, and reasonably specific about what kinds of things are needed or wanted. I have to believe that MS really is listening and that they will get it right over time. But they’re not there yet, however much this year-old item might imply otherwise. I’m sure the tempest will soon die down, and we can all get back to work.

I did find Thurrott’s comments darkly funny, and hope you got a chuckle from them, too.

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Windows 11 Uptake and Deployment March 2022

Though the numbers vary between AdDuplex and StatCounter, the growth rate for Windows 11 for March 2022 shows only slight change.  For the former, share went from 19.5 to 19.7%; for the latter, from 7.89 to 8.45%. Not much growth in Windows 11 uptake and deployment March 2022, in other words. What does it mean? I have some ideas, so please let me share them.

Windows 11 Uptake and Deployment March 2022 Is Consumer Driven

Aside from Microsoft’s own in-house deployment of 190K-plus copies (see this Thurrott.com story with MS pointers for more info), major corporate or organizational migrations to the new OS are mostly still pending. This is no surprise, because migrations usually take a year or more to plan, and at least 6 months to complete. Double those numbers for the largest organizations. Simply put: business use of Windows 11 for medium-sized businesses and larger is slim to none.

So who’s using Windows 11? Aside from pilot projects and evaluations (which are ongoing in business or organizational circles), there are two major populations running Windows 11:

  1. Enthusiasts, power users and Windows aficianados (in which group I count myself) who have upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11, or performed clean installs on new builds or wiped systems. I’m guessing there are 100-200 million such users globally, with somewhere between 250 and 500 million PCs involved. With 11 PCs here at Chez Tittel, I’m an outlier on the high end, but nowhere near the top of that heap.
  2. PC buyers who purchase systems with Windows 11 pre-installed. With 340 million PCs purchased in 2021, and north of 350 million projected for 2022, at least 40% are likely to include Windows 11. That’s 300M-plus PCs!

This is my foundation for claiming 500M PCs could be running Windows 11 by the end of 2022. Right now, I’d be surprised if that number exceeds 300M. But it’s still a consumer/end-user thing, and likely to stay that way until 2023 and beyond.

The Long Tail Goes On and On…

I had my eyes checked late last month. Last year, all of the shop’s systems still ran Windows 7. Now, the front of the house (receptionist, sales staff, technicians) are on Windows 10. Both of the on-staff ophthalmologists, however, are still on 7. I have to guess that for most small-to-midsize operations that’s a pretty normal thing. Bigger companies are more likely to be on 10 now that EOL support for Windows 7 is so expensive, and “running naked” (i.e. unsupported) so dangerous and unattractive.

With EOL for Windows 10 not until October 2025, there’s still plenty of time to start thinking about Windows 11 migrations . . . next year!

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Fighting Camera Frame Server Crashes

OK, then. I just installed optional/preview update KB5012643 on my Windows 11 X1 Extreme laptop yesterday. This morning, I’ve been fighting camera frame server crashes. You can see the traces of this contest from Reliability Monitor in the following graphic.

Fighting Camera Frame Server Crashes.reli-errors

You can see an ongoing sequence of repeated “Windows Camera Frame Server” errors at semi-regular intervals. Each one follows a “test reboot.” [Click image for full-sized view.]

Registry Hack Aids Fighting Camera Frame Server Crashes

In researching this error, I came across a registry hack in the HKLM/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows Media Foundation/Platform key. It required creating a DWORD value named “Enable Frame Server Mode.” When that value was set to 1, the Frame Server crash ceased. Instead, I got a crash on Windows Biometrics. And when I restored my camera’s and fingerprint scanner’s ability to support Windows Hello, the Frame Server error popped back up again. I had to laugh!

Choosing the Lesser of Two Weevils

Dispelling the Frame Server error not only turned off the PC’s webcam, it apparently also messed with Windows Biometrics in general. Given a choice between a non-fatal (and only mildly annoying) Frame Server error at startup versus being unable to use Windows Hello, I choose the latter. I’m reporting the error to Feedback Hub, and hoping for a fix. But I’m continuing to use my camera and fingerprint scanner for login/authentication purposes.

Go figure! In Windows-World one must sometimes trade off one thing against another. This time around (and in most cases) easier security via biometrics won the toss…

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Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power

I’m a big fan of Thunderbolt docks, especially for high end laptops. These days, Thunderbolt 4 stuff can be especially hard to buy. I was “wildly excited” to learn about CalDigit’s new 18-port 98W charge capable TS4 dock. I was also unsurprized to learn it was out of stock. Indeed, the sold-out CalDigit TS4 offers amazing power and capability (view next graphic full-size for complete front and back view of ports). That said, its most outstanding attribute at present is to frustrate my ability to say “Shut up, and take my money!”

Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power
Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Ports and Power (click image for full-sized view; use Back button to return to story)

If Sold-out CalDigit TS4 Offers Amazing Power, When Can I Get One?

According to CalDigit’s latest “Update on availability,” more TS4s will come off the line in mid-May. Assuming the second batch is as popular as the first, it’ll sell out in days, if not hours. I may still try to buy one anyway. But I’m not expecting to score on the upcoming round either.

Why not? Because there aren’t that many good Thunderbolt 4 docks on the market right now. And because the TS4 is sufficiently compelling to elicit the famous “Shut up and…” response I uttered earlier.

Sigh. On the plus side, it’s fun to get excited about computing gear for good reason. On the minus side, it’s sad to understand that demand will continue to outstrip supply for some time to come.

Waiting for the Perfect, or Buying What’s for Sale?

OTOH, I could always succumb to the almost as nice, but less capacious and powerful Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element hub. There are other alternatives available, too. See this WindowsCentral story for a nice survey of what’s on the market in this space right now.

I’m torn, but will probably keep trying to score a TS4 through the next round. After that, I’ll either post a review, or reconsider a change of plan. Stay tuned!

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Resuscitated Windows Welcomes Require Notification Reset

OK, then. I did some “weekend admin” work around the house yesterday. That included installing recent CUs on a couple of holdout Windows 10 PCs. Soon thereafter, I found myself facing the “Let’s finish up…” item shown in the lead-in graphic above. “Hmmm” I found myself thinking. “I vaguely recall there’s an easy way to turn this off.” And indeed, some CUs means that these resuscitated Windows welcomes require Notification reset. Let me explain…

Why Do Resuscitated Windows Welcomes Require Notification Reset?

Apparently, when certain CUs (or an upgrade) gets installed, it resets related notifications in Start → Settings → System → Notifications & actions: see checkboxes under notifications in the following screencap.

Resuscitated Windows Welcomes Require Notification Reset.settings.system

By default all boxes are checked; I routinely uncheck the lower three as shown here.

How Often Does This Happen?

It can happen after some Cumulative Updates. You won’t know until it pops up (literally). It DOES happen after every upgrade, though you’ll see a different screen instead. This one is labeled “Welcome to Windows” as shown next.

This item is turned off when the first of the three unchecked boxes above is unchecked. It’s another one of those things that repeat experience with Windows teaches. But in my case, it happens infrequently enough that I have to refresh my memory with an online search about half the time when it shows up. Sigh.

What About Windows 11?

As far as I can tell, Windows 11 appears exempt from both kinds of “nag screen” — as certain, disgruntled Windows 10 users sometimes label these displays. I guess that’s a good thing, eh?

[Note: thanks to Mayank Pamar at WindowsLatest. His April 25 story Windows 10’s full screen setup nag returns – here’s how to disable it showed up this morning, just after I’d looked this info up yesterday. He’d obviously run into the same thing I did. That’s how things go sometimes, here in Windows-World. Thanks!]

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Three Windows Update Repair Tips

Recent reporting on the latest Patch Tuesday (April 13) includes mention of issues with completing Cumulative Updates (CUs). Thus, for example, check out this WindowsLatest item dated April 22. Entitled Watch out for these issues in Windows 11 KB5012592 & Windows 10 KB5012599 it mentions various errors would-be updaters could encounter. It also mentions two tried-and-true recovery/repair techniques, to which I’ll add a suggestion of my own. Thus, I provide three Windows Update repair tips for your consideration and use.

Here Are Three Windows Update Repair Tips

Note: all these tips work equally well for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Use ’em with my blessing in the order provided. In my personal experience they’ll cover most update issues people are likely to encounter.

Tip1: Simple Reboot

That’s right. If a CU update fails to complete, the first strategy is to reboot the PC, and try again. Believe it or not, that is sometimes all that’s needed to get things working.

Tip2: Shift-Shutdown

If you hold down the Shift key while you select the Shutdown option in Windows 10 or 11, it forces what’s sometimes called a “full shutdown.” This forces Windows to close all opened apps and applications. It also logs out any logged-in accounts. At the same time, a full shutdown performs neither a hybrid shutdown nor will it hibernate your PC.

Hibernation saves open documents and running applications to the %systemdrive% and copies them back into RAM upon restart, to speed that process along and let you pick up where you left off. That’s NOT desirable when fixing WU issues.

A hybrid shutdown hibernates the kernel session (what the OS is doing) and shuts down everything else. This supports Fast Boot capabilities on the subsequent reboot process to speed it up. It’s enough like hibernation that it too, is NOT desirable when fixing WU issues.

Tip3: Reset WU

Although the tutorial “Reset Windows Update…” appears on TenForums, it works equally well for Windows 11. Basically, it involves running a batch file that stops all update related services, resets all the update related registry keys, then restarts all the update related services it stopped. Surprisingly, it works like a charm. I routinely keep this batch file on many of my Windows 10 and 11 desktops. As it has worked for me both long and well, so it can also do for you.

If None of the Above Works, Then What?

Alas, in some cases, none of the aforementioned fixes will work. Next thing I’d consider would be an in-place repair install (covered in this equally handy tutorial). After that, more dire measures including a clean install and/or a trip to the shop might be warranted. In my 30-plus years of “messing with Windows” that has happened to me exactly twice. One of these occurrences happened less than two weeks ago (see this post for details). Odds are, therefore, it shouldn’t happen to you. Fingers crossed!  One of them was pretty recent, after all…

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Printer IPv4 Address Produces Reports

Here’s something I just learned that I should’ve known years ago. Turns out that if you type in a specially formatted version of any printer’s IP address into a web browser, you’ll go straight into a report interface. To be more specific, the Printer IPv4 address produces reports on the resulting web page. Let me explain…

How Printer IPv4 Address Produces Reports

Of course, three things are essential for this technique to work. They don’t pose a big hurdle, though, as you can see here:

Thing1: The printer must be network-attached and have an assigned IP address (that’s how most printers work nowadays, though many home users still use USB-attached devices).
Thing2: You must know the printer’s IP address (I explain two handy ways to get that info in a following section).
Thing3: You must format the URL for the printer as follows:
http://xx.xx.xx.xx, e.g. http://192.168.1.44
Secure HTTP (which puts https:// at the head of the URL string) does NOT work, as I confirmed by experiment.

When I tried this technique for both printers on the LAN here at Chez Tittel, it worked in Edge, Chrome and Firefox. One is a Dell color laser 2155cn MFP; the other is a Samsung monochrome laser ML-2850. I can’t say from sure knowledge that it works in ALL browsers and all printers, but I can assert it works in all the browsers and printers I use.

Under the hood, there’s a reporting API for network-attached printers. It produces report data as HTML formatted output when this kind of connection gets made. Works nicely, so it’s good enough for me!

Finding Printer IP Addresses

I can describe two ways to get this info, though those with their own IP scanning tools can use them instead. The first way is to open Devices and Printers, right click the printer of interest, then select the Printer Properties item from the pop-up menu. Select the Ports tab, then find the currently selected port in use (hint: it’s the only one whose left-hand checkbox is checked). Highlight that port, then click the “Configure Port…” button. You’ll see something like this:

Note that the IP address appears in the second field from the top (Printer name or IP address). Works every time!

I am also fond of Nirsoft’s NetBScanner utility. If you scan your local LAN segment it will report and describe all IP addresses it finds in use. For me, it’s a little faster and easier than the foregoing tactic, so it’s the one I use most often myself. Other scanners will do the same for you, so if you’re already familiar with another one, use it with my blessing.

Always nice to learn something new. Even better is to learn something new and useful. Here ’tis!

[Note added early afternoon: Thanks to ElevenForum member and fellow WIMVP @stormy13 whose off-hand remark in this thread pointed me into this topic.]

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