Category Archives: Letters from the Ed

Working Through Writer’s Block

Today is Easter Sunday here in Central Texas. I took my constitutional a bit later than usual, leaving the house just before 11 AM local time. While walking, I had the pleasure of listening to the “Arts Hour” on the BBC World Service on my iPhone. Unexpectedly, I listened through a brief interview with Aaron Sorkin (creator of The West Wing, and lots of other TV shows and movies). When asked about his issues with writing he responded something like this: “The problem is not with writing; it’s with NOT writing.” I found myself laughing out loud, because in the past couple of weeks I found myself working through writer’s block to finish what turned out to be an interesting project.

Working Through Writer’s Block Pays Off

Like many other writers, I do sometimes get stuck. My biggest problem is getting started on a project. When I don’t feel 100% prepared, when I’m not completely comfortable with the subject matter, or when I know a project includes lots of “hard labor” I tend to put such projects off. And then, sometimes, I put them off some more.

This last time around, I had to postpone a delivery because of a severe allergy attack that laid me up over the weekend. When Monday rolled around, I put it off until Tuesday. That turned into Wednesday, and so forth until Friday was staring me in the face.

Getting Unstuck May Require a Push

Confession, it is said, is good for the soul. Thus, upon finding myself profoundly stuck I called my senior editor. I’ve worked with the same team for 3-4 years now, so we know each other well. I simply fessed up and said: “I’ve got writer’s block. How can I get started?”

The advice turned out to be just what I needed to break my logjam. The editor said two things:

1. Start in the middle
2. The outline is 3,500 words and the piece is 4,500-5,500 words. How can this be a problem?

He was right. As soon as I read the outline and re-read some source material, I knew what I needed to do. I skipped the intro (which had been stopping me) and started with Part 1. It did take me two full days to write the piece after that, but I did get it finished. Thank goodness.

Other Sources of Help

Turns out there are lots of places to turn for good advice on beating writer’s block. A quick Google search turns up some real gems including:

Jeff Goins: How to Overcome Writer’s Block: 14 Tricks That Work
Penguin Random House: 10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
ReedsyBlog: Writer’s Block: 10 Ways to Defect a Writer’s Worst Enemy
R.L. Stine: 6 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

And believe me, there’s plenty more where that came from. Turns out that asking for help (and talking to a friend) is pretty close to the top of  most of the preceding (and other) lists. Fundamentally, you need to break out of whatever has you stuck. If one thing doesn’t work, try another — and keep trying until you get writing again.

Works for me, anyway…

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Happy 2022 After Road Trip Return

At about 11:50 PM last night, I woke my dozing wife so we could hoist a glass to the incoming year at the stroke of midnight. Here at Chez Tittel, we’re all still recovering from our major Florida road trip, from which we rolled in at 7:30-ish on the  night of December 30. Hence, my well-intentioned wishes to readers for a happy 2022 after road trip return. Auld Ang Syne, and all that…

With Happy 2022 After Road Trip Return, Then What?

In what is becoming a family vacation pattern, we covered lots of ground and saw some super sights on a 13-day trip. We started out from Round Rock, Texas, and bookended the trip with a stay at Crestview, FL, across I-10 from the huge naval air station nominally at Pensacola for the first and last nights away from home. Day 2 was our longest drive, from Crestview to Key West, where we stayed until Day 4.

Here’s how the remaining vacation part of our trip played out:
* Miami Beach at the superb beachside hotel, The Palms (Days 4-7)
* West Palm Beach at the West Palm Hilton (Days 7-9)
* Orlando at the Hyatt Regency next to the Convention Center (Days 9-12)

Day 12 also saw us to Crestview (an easy 6-hour jaunt). Day 13 was a booger, with 13 hours in the car on the way home. To my surprise, we sailed over the I-10 Mississippi bridge in Baton Rouge. Then, we got stuck in a 90-minute traffic jam on the eastbound approach into Houston. (From Baytown to I-610 north, for those who know that part of the world.)

Trip Highlights: Part 1

While none of us is eager to return to Key West (Day 2 of the trip was a grueling 14-hour driving day), we did like the place. Though it’s not in downtown, the Margaritaville Beach House/resort proved to be a well-appointed hotel, albeit with leisurely service and an island state of mind. We had an amazing farewell dinner at the A&B Lobster House on the docks the night before our departure (Day 3). The Boss and The Boy tucked into butter-poached lobsters as big as your head, while I made do with a Oscar-style chunk of grouper.

The drive to The Palms in Miami Beach took less than 2.5 hours. The GPS ran us up Route 1, which I let stand so the family could get a good taste of Miami on our way. Ordinarily, I’d have over-ridden the route and gone up the Florida Turnpike. It was a slow but interesting drive to help see the southern approach to downtown.

In Miami Beach (MB), everybody agreed it was the best vacation spot on our itinerary. We had an amazing Cuban meal at Havana 1957 on Lincoln Street. We got to try a killer Cubano, great ropa vieja and terrific tostones. We also walked 6-8 miles a day during the whole stay, because MB is so walk-friendly. The car stayed in the hotel garage for our entire stay. We took a tour of Miami  by bus, and the bay between Miami and the barrier island by boat. Great fun!

Trip Highlights: Part 2

Our next stop was a sentimental destination. My mom lived in Palm Beach Gardens (PBG) from 1991 until 2006, and West Palm is the nearest tourist spot in that vicinity. We drove by her old house a couple of times, but also saw the grand mansions on Palm Beach island, and explored A1A all the way up to Jupiter beach. That included a stroll through the amazing John D. MacArthur Beach State Park on the barrier island to the east of Palm Beach Gardens. It also featured a great Christmas dinner with my Aunt Millie, her daughter, and three of her grand-kids at her PBG condo. Good times!

We also ate twice at a favorite Jewish Deli with many south and central Florida locations: TooJays. We liked it so much, we had our last meal at its Orlando location on our way to Crestview. All I can say is: Best. Matzo Ball Soup. Ever. I mean it! Good shepard’s pie, great pastrami and corned beef, wonderful baked goods, too.

Otherwise, we decided we prefer south to central Florida. On a next trip, we agreed to drop Orlando and Key West. Instead we’ll concentrate on Miami Beach and Palm Beach. Those thinking about a Florida visit of their own should consider doing the same. Cheers!

Back to Business on January 3

I’ll be resuming my normal blogging on Monday, with the real start of the working year for 2022. My first screed will enumerate the contents of the “technology bag” from our trip. I’ll explain what I took with us, how it worked for us, and provide purchase pointers for those likewise disposed. Stay tuned!

Note Added 2 Hrs Later (January 1)

As I re-read this travelogue, it occurs to me that I’m grateful to my readers and those who’ve hired me to work for them. That includes Microsoft (the WIMVP program), Fish & Richardson plus numerous other law firms, Actual Tech Media, ComputerWorld, TechTarget, and the For Dummies… Custom Publications group, among others.

In fact, 2021 turned out to be a much better year than I expected. I have those parties to thank for what success I’ve enjoyed in this current COVID related world of work. I wish everyone only the best for 2022. I hope the New Year is safe, prosperous and, above all, interesting and educational for all of us. Cheers (and thanks) again! =Ed=

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Why Is Windows 7 Still Running on 1 of 5 PCs Worldwide?

The mind reels. I just checked the Operating system market share by version stats at NetMarketShare.com. To my outright astonishment, 20.93% of PCs worldwide still run Windows 7. By contrast, Windows 10 has a 62.16% share and MacOS 6.21% (the numbers in the figure only run through September; these are for October). Thus, I have to ask: “Why Is Windows 7 Still Running on 1 of 5 PCs Worldwide?”

Answering Why Is Windows 7 Still Running on 1 of 5 PCs Worldwide?

In a piece from Microsoft Story Labs with a 2018 copyright date, the company claims “there are more than 1.3B devices running Windows 10.” If that represents 62.16% of the number of PCs running globally, that means that 437 million PCs could be running Windows 7.  (I know: I’m making assumptions willy-nilly, but this is a strawperson argument anyway.) That said, both The Verge and ZDNet reported in January 2021 that there could be somewhere over 100 million (Verge) and under 200 million (ZDNet) Windows 7 PCs still in use. Whatever that real number may be, my question is: “Why?”

Windows 7 hit EOL in January 2020. Microsoft does offer annual Extended Security Updates (ESU) for such machines, but that costs US$62 per license as of January 2021. Nobody knows for sure how many PCs are under ESU coverage (MS doesn’t disclose those numbers). But I’d be surprised if more than 20 million PCs were under contract.

What does that mean for the other 80 to 180 million Windows 7 PCs still in use? Big security exposure, and the onus for support on their owners. To me, this falls under the heading of “unacceptable risk.”

Again: Why Keep on with Windows 7?

Surely, the biggest answers have to be:

1. Inertia/laziness: Owners (individuals and businesses) don’t want to change.
2. Budget constraints/parsimony: Owners don’t want to spend the money (or time and effort) required for migration and possibly also, hardware refresh
3. Legacy app tie-downs: Businesses running custom apps based on Windows 7 don’t want to port or rewrite the code for newer Windows versions.

I understand these reasons, but I don’t understand that users and companies/organizations are willing to take big security risks as a consequence. I am flabbergasted that the curve showing in the lead-in graphic is declining so slowly. 5% in 10 months translates into 6% annually. That means that assuming the rate of decline remains constant, Windows 7 will remain in use for another 3 years and then some. All I can say is: Mind completely blown!

What could — and probably will — change this leisurely decline is some major security exploit that’s sure to come along. When owners must face clear, immediate and present danger of financial loss or legal liability they’ll get on the stick and start migrating faster. In the meantime, inertia continues to rule. Amazing!

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Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time

I can’t help it. Tinkering with my PCs gives me great joy. I also love to check up on them at regular intervals. I work to keep the OS, drivers, apps and programs current and correct. But I learned long ago that it takes time — often, too much time — to attain absolute perfection. Or perhaps I should say “total update coverage” instead? Indeed, updates require balancing OCD against time. One must know when to quit or give up looking for elusive elements. Thereby hangs today’s tale…

If Updates Require Balancing OCD Against Time, How Much Is Too Much?

I use a couple of good tools to help me track non-OS updates for programs. The Store does a good job of keeping up with most apps. WU does well enough by me with the OS. For drivers, I rely on reading TenForums and ElevenForum to keep up. I also hasten to add that Windows 10/11 both do a good job of handling drivers on their own. That means I concentrate on Nvidia GPU drivers, output from the Intel Driver & Support utility, news about Samsung NVMe drivers, Realtek UAD audio drivers, and — occasionally — Thunderbolt drivers. The rest of them take pretty good care of themselves, though I do rely  on DriverStore Explorer to keep an eye on them, and to purge duplicates and oldies from time to time.

I use the free and excellent PatchMyPC Home updater to handle all the updates it can find. (It provides this story’s lead graphic, in fact.) Why? Because it is set up to silently install updates without requiring human intervention and action. I like that. But I also use the free version of KC Softwares’ Software Update Monitor (aka SUMo) because it finds more apps and programs than PatchMyPC does. That said, I wouldn’t recommend paying for its commercial version because their behind-the-scenes engineering for downloading updates is hit or miss. And the misses happen too frequently for me to want to pay US$30 per PC to grouse about them further. If SUMo finds a program that needs updating, you need to get and apply the update yourself.

Where to Draw the (Update Search) Line

In working with these tools, I’ve learned to spend no more than 10 minutes trying to get any individual item updated. Sometimes, SUMo reports updates available that I just can’t find. For example, SUMo has had me chase DolbyDAX2DesktopUI versions on multiple occasions that I can find nowhere online (though items that present themselves as valid links do pop up they lead only to the Dolby.com homepage).

After one or two revolutions when going around in circles, I’ve learned to give up. I also don’t worry about minor version discrepancies, especially when I know PatchMyPC will catch up to SUMo soon. Case in point: I just updated one of my Lenovo X380 Yoga ThinkPads. PatchMyPC took CrystalDiskInfo to version 8.12.4.0 only for SUMo to tell me I needed to upgrade it to 8.12.5.0. I know if I wait a while, PatchMyPC will get me there without me having to visit CrystalDewWorld, and then download and run the installer myself. So, that’s where I draw the line to avoid too much lost time. You can, of course, draw lines as you see fit.

According to eminent anthropologist Gregory Bateson, the 18th century British poet and artist William Blake said “Wise men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Blake also said: “Mad men see outlines and therefore they draw them.” Wise or mad, I think drawing lines is an important part of managing how one spends time and effort. Don’t you?

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Next LTSC Is 21H2 Based: Windows 11 Follows Later

In a July 15 Windows Experience Blog post, MS VP John Cable writes that in “the second half of 2021” the next version of the Windows LTSC will hit. Here’s a quote: “…we will also launch the next version of the Windows 10 Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) based on version 21H2 at the same time.” A recent “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session said a “next LTSC” after that would use Windows 11. Hence my assertion: the next LTSC is 21H2 based, Windows 11 follows later.

Next LTSC is 21H2 based Windows 11 Follows Later. How long?

Good question. Take a look at a list of LTSC Windows 10 releases. I include my guess for the upcoming one:

1. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015 1507   07/29/2015
2. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2016 1607   08/02/2016
3. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019  1809   11/13/2018
4. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021  21H1   11/??/2021

The gaps vary. It starts with just over a year (1 → 2). The next is over 2 years (2 → 3). That latest goes up to around 3 years (3 → 4). Recent history argues it will likely hit in two or three years. A lot depends on features that Windows 11 offers and Windows 10 does not. Equally important: how much they matter for deployments likely to use the long-lived LTSC code base.

Why Use a Windows LTSC Release?

In its LTSC explainer in Microsoft Docs, MS works hard to distinguish LTSC from other release channels and to identify typical usage scenarios (italic text is quoted verbatim):

 Important

The Long-Term Servicing Channel is not intended for deployment on most or all the PCs in an organization. The LTSC edition of Windows 10 provides customers with access to a deployment option for their special-purpose devices and environments. These devices typically perform a single important task and don’t need feature updates as frequently as other devices in the organization. These devices are also typically not heavily dependent on support from external apps and tools. Since the feature set for LTSC does not change for the lifetime of the release, over time there might be some external tools that do not continue to provide legacy support. See LTSC: What is it, and when it should be used.

The latter document calls out a “key requirement … that functionality and features don’t change over time.” These include medical systems like those used in MRI and CAT scan devices, industrial process controllers, and air traffic control systems. All such systems are costly, complex, and relatively isolated from public networks.

My gut feel is a long wait doesn’t matter that much for LTSC deployments. Because they’re so specialized and focused. engineers will build around whatever’s available when they put LTSC to work. When it gets used, the Windows OS isn’t really important: the function and capabilities of the overall system in which LTSC is embedded is what really matters.

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Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence

Interesting news from the latest version of MIcrosoft’s Windows Lifecycle FAQ (updated July 24, 2021). It says upgrade frequency will change with Windows 11. No more semi-annual “feature updates” that characterized Windows 10 (e.g 20H1, 20H2, 21H1 and 21H2). Instead,  one such update/upgrade happens each year. Most likely, it will hit in October. That’s why I say that Windows 11 adopts annual upgrade cadence in this post’s title.

When Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence, What Else?

In the FAQ, we also get information about the servicing timeline for Windows 11 versions. Here’s a snapshot of the table clipped straight from the FAQ. It answers this question: “What is the servicing timeline for a version (feature update) of Windows 11?”

Windows 11 Adopts Annual Upgrade Cadence.servicing

Business, education and IoT versions have a 3 year timeline; other versions get two years.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

What is a servicing timeline anyway?

As I understand it, this is the length of time that Microsoft will provide updates and enhancements for a particular Windows version or release. When that interval expires, PCs must update to a more current — and still-supported — version. Business, education and I0T versions benefit from a longer timeline. Consumer, end-user and SMB focused versions (Windows 11 Pro, Pro Education, Pro for Workstations, and Home) get a shorter timeline with more frequent upgrades expected.

As the footnote says, Windows 10 Home “does not support … deferral of feature updates.” Thus, it will usually not hang around long enough to get forcibly  updated when an older version hits its planned obsolescence date.

Very Interesting! This should make things easier for everybody, especially for IT departments in larger organizations. They most adopt an “every other year” upgrade cadence anyway…

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Are Over Half-a-Billion Windows 7 PCs Still In Use?

The old saying goes: “The numbers don’t lie.” Alas, I’ve been messing with numbers long enough to know that they don’t always capture the whole truth, either. Please indulge me for a moment, while I make a case for the size of the Windows 7 PC population. Warning! That case leads to the question that headlines this item: Are over half-a-billion Windows 7 PCs still in use? Sounds a bit high, as numbers go, so I’ll lay my reasoning out.

Why Ask: Are Over Half-a-Billion Windows 7 PCs Still in Use?

According to NetMarketShare.com, the platform version numbers for Windows 10 stand at 57.85% of desktops, versus 24.79% for Windows 7. MS has recently asserted that 1.3B active monthly users run Windows 10. Using that as a baseline, I calculate that if this number is accurate, there must be just over 557M Windows 7 PCs in use by proportion. How many of these are VMs, and how many are physical PCs is anybody’s guess.

Let’s say that 2 of 3 Windows 7 instances run on physical PCs just for grins. That would mean 557M Windows 7 OS instances translate into around 371 million devices running this now-obsolete OS. Recall that EOL for Windows 7 hit on January 14, 2020, 10.25 years after it debuted on October 22, 2009. These machines will be prime candidates for Windows 10 upgrades, because in all likelihood most of them will be unable to meet Windows 11 hardware requirements.

Another Question Comes to Mind…

As I tweeted last Friday, this raises another question. That question is: Will Windows 11 hardware requirements spur an uptick in Windows 10 installs, as older Windows 7 PCs get a “last and final” upgrade? Personally, I’m inclined to believe the answer is “Yes.”

Here are my reasons for so believing:
1. Because Windows 10 EOL is October 14, 2025, that buys time for home and business (mostly small business) users to save up for a hardware refresh to make themselves Windows 11-ready.
2. It reflects common practice in upgrading, where many users — again, especially those in  SMBS — deliberately trail the leading edge of Windows releases in the name of improved stability, reliability and understanding.
3. It’s always easier and cheaper (at least, in terms of current cash flow) to defer upgrades and hardware purchases until later, rather than to act sooner. That said, it gives more time for planning, lets others do the hard work of pioneering, and offers greater comfort in making changes at a time of the buyer’s choosing.

How all this actually plays out remains to be seen. If my numbers have any bearing on what’s out there in the real world, things could get interesting. I have to believe the big OEMs — Lenovo, Dell, HP, and other players (Acer, Asus, LG, and so forth) — are pondering this closely and carefully. I’m betting that PC sales will remain strong until 2026 and beyond, though probably not at pandemic levels, as the workplace returns to more customary modes of operation. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

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Surface Pro 3 Gets 21H2 Feature Update

OK, then. The Windows release environment has now forked. Those PCs running the Release Preview version of Windows 10  can go one of two ways. Those who don’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements get an upgrade to 20H2 (Build 19044.1147) . The others get an invite to upgrade to Windows 11. Because my 2014 vintage Surface PC  falls into the first category, that Surface Pro 3 gets 21H2 feature update. The lead-in graphic provides more info, from Settings → System → About.

If Surface Pro 3 Gets 21H2 Feature Update, Then What?

This reminds me that Windows 10 has a planned life until October 2025. That’s 50 months from now, not counting July 2021 in the tally (50.35 months, countlng the 11 days remaining in this month). I find myself reconsidering hanging onto the old but still reliable SP3 as a way to keep up with Windows 10 even as most of my PC fleet switches over to Windows 11 later this year.

Other businesses and organizations may find themselves forced to straddle this fork, too. That’s because not everyone will be able to replace older hardware right away to make themselves Windows 11 ready.

Life on the Trailing Edge of Technology

If my experience with many small businesses is any indicator, Windows 11 will probably provide a wake-up call to those still running Windows 7. At least, most such systems will upgrade to Windows 10 and can keep running until October 14, 2025 when Windows 10 End-of-Life hits. This adds another 50 months to the planning and upgrade cycle, at which point businesses will find themselves more or less compelled to “move on up” to Windows 11.

NetMarketShare still reports the Windows 7 population as just under 24.8% of overall desktops. I think it’s pretty safe to guesstimate that 80-plus percent of those PCs won’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements on grounds of boot type (MBR vs. UEFI), CPU generation (7th or lower, mostly lower), and lack of TPM 2.0 support. This could lead to an upswelling of Windows 10 numbers, even as that OS marches toward its own EOL date.

But that’s the way things work sometimes, here in Windows -World!

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Vacation Return Means Posts Resume July 19

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been silent since July 5. That’s because the family and I took off on a great summer driving vacation on July 6 and just got back last night. I can now report that our vacation return means posts resume July 19 here at edtittel.com. Here’s a quick peek at our ambitious and sometimes tiring visiting/driving schedule:

Day  1  Round Rock     Big Spring, TX
Day  2  Big Spring     Albuquerque, NM
Day  3  Albuquerque    Colorado Springs, CO
Day  4  Colorado Spgs  Breckenridge, CO
Day  5  Breckenridge   Durango, CO
Day  8  Durango        Taos, NM
Day  9  Taos           Amarillo, TX
Day 10  Amarillo       Round Rock (home)

If Vacation Return Means Posts Resume July 19, What Happened?

I had several peak culinary experiences, including the best chicken fried steak (EVER) at the Settles Hotel in Big Spring, TX. Also really enjoyed a french dip at Seasons Restaurant in Durango on some truly wonderful local whole-grain bread. And a not-to-be-missed “meat coma” at the Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery in Amarillo.

We drove three thrilling and sometimes scary mountain roads. Two in Colorado included Highway 9 into Breckenridge and Highway 550 (including the famous “million dollar highway”) into Durango. In New Mexico, HIghway 104 from Las Vegas to Tucumcari bid a beautiful end to our mountain driving adventures.

We rode the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge train, and saw the magnificent and amazing Mesa Verde National Park near Durango. We also walked lots of mountain and/or tourist town main streets, drinking in the scenery and the mix of locals and visitors there.

All in all, it was a great adventure. All of us — Dina, Gregory and myself — had a great time.  10 nights away from home and 7 different hotels later, we gladly slept in our own beds last night.

Random Trip Highlights

We set a new “record MPG” in Dina’s E250 Bluetec diesel on this trip: 56 MPG riding a very long downhill stretch on I-70 from Vail to Grand Junction, CO. For the whole trip, we averaged just under 43 mpg, which reflects a large fraction of uphill driving.

In Colorado Springs, we stayed at the fabulous Broadmoor. Everybody should be so lucky at least once in their lives. It was amazing! The Settles Hotel in Big Spring proved a surprisingly good reason to visit that small Texas hamlet, the Rattlesnake Queen notwithstanding. I had at least four good bowls of chili on the trip, and an outstanding “Chile Colorado” in Mancos, CO on the way back from Mesa Verde National Park to Durango.

All in all, it was a terrific trip. Lots of beautiful scenery, interesting activities, and many, many miles covered (well over 2,000). Suitably refreshed and reinvigorated I’ll be covering my usual Windows topics on Monday. Stay tuned!

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My Insider Preview Working Routine Revealed

On January 18, I reported here that the Insider Team at MS renewed my Windows Insider MVP (WIMVP) status for 2021. Since that renewal came through, I’ve been keeping an eye on my daily activities and taking notes. Now, I’m prepared to share a mini-expose. It’s what I call “My Insider Preview working routine revealed,” as in the title for this story. I’ll explain what it means, what I do, and how much time it takes to stay involved in the program.  Here goes…

Digging In: Insider Preview Working Routine Revealed

There are 5 major activities involved in the Insider Preview working routine, as far as I can tell. I’ll enumerate them first, then provide some details and ruminations.

  1. Dealing with Insider Preview releases
  2. Reporting on installation and use experiences
  3. Researching news and reports related to Insider Preview Releases
  4. Participating in the WIMVP community
  5. Raising awareness for Windows 10 plus related tools and utilities

1. Dealing with Insider Preview releases

I watch all the release channels — namely Dev, Beta, and Insider Preview, with at least 2 test machines devoted to each channel. Every time a new release comes out, I go through a specific drill, as follows:

  • Download and install the release
  • Observe any issues, hiccups or out-of-baseline behaviors during the install and initial trip to the desktop
  • Perform post-install clean-up, which consists of deleting Windows.old, running file cleanup, and making a fresh backup of the new version in Macrium reflect
  • Report on experience and findings at TenForums.com in the News forum and, if necessary, in the Installation and Upgrade forum
  • Check Event logs and Reliability Monitor for out-of-the-ordinary stuff
  • Report anything interesting or noteworthy to Feedback hub

As occasional updates to IP releases emerge, I repeat the steps above except for post-install clean-up, though I may run DISM /online /cleanup-image /analyzecomponentstore to see if any install packages need cleaning up in the wake of the new update. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

I do about 6 of these a week on average, where each one takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour if everything works as it should. Sometimes, troubleshooting can take an hour or more, as when troubleshooting installation failures. Right now, for example, I’m dealing with a Bug Check 0xA IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL stop error on Build 21301 on one of my test machines.  I may not get this resolved until after dinner tonight because I have three deadlines to meet today (this article, a story for ComputerWorld, and a blog post for ActualTechMedia).

2. Reporting on installation and use experiences

Once I get the IP release installed and cleaned up, I start using it from time to time. As I observe its behavior and try out commands, programs, apps and utilities, I report any issues I encounter to Feedback hub. This depends a lot on my overall workload and may involve only 10 minutes on some days, and an hour or two on others. Varies a lot.

3. Researching news and reports related to Insider Preview Releases

I read the Windows 10 coverage on at least a half-dozen sites daily to keep up with current events, reported bugs and issues, emerging features and rumors of same. I also keep a partial eye on Microsoft business and tech news, as well as PC software and hardware industry news. This takes me at least an hour a day; longer if I get interested in something and start tracking stuff down. My daily visits include WinAero.com, Windows Latest, MSPowerUser, NeoWin, OnMSFT, Ghacks, ZDNet, Windows Central, and TenForums.com (where I try to read all new threads every day).

4. Participating in the WIMVP community

I belong to the WIMVP Yammer group, and scan its posts daily. We have weekly meetings to discuss Windows 10 topics which I sometimes attend (but not always). When we have online meetings — as we will later this morning — I try to attend those pretty regularly. I make a point of attending our conferences, and used to enjoy the physical ones. Now, like everybody else, I get what I can from their online/virtual counterparts, and look forward to when traveling for a real meet-up is once again possible. This takes me an hour or two a week on average, with 2-3 full days for conferences.

5. Raising awareness for Windows 10 plus related tools and utilities

I’m always on the lookout for good Microsoft-built or third-party tools, utilities, scripts, and whatnot. As I find them, I write about them in my daily reporting, and try to get articles placed to write about them in more detail and depth. You can get an inkling of what I do from my end-of-last-year story here Top 3 2020 Utilities. This is about the most fun I get to have in this role, but seldom takes more than an hour or two a week, sometimes less.

I also give an annual Windows 10 presentation at the Spiceworks SpiceWorld conference, and try to pick up other speaking and presenting gigs as they make themselves available. If you want me to talk about Windows 10 stuff at your conference and I don’t have a conflict, I’d be happy to oblige. Contact me through Ed Tittel Contact Info, where you’ll find an email form that goes straight into my inbox.

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