Category Archives: Insider stuff

Brand-new AMD PC Gets No Windows 11 Love

OK, then. I’m  a little puzzled. Last month, I upgraded one of my desktops to a rockin’ configuration. I did this specifically to prepare for yesterday’s Windows 11 GA date. That PC includes an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, 64 GB RAM, and more. It completely meets the Windows 11 requirements (and PC Health Check agrees with my assessment). But this machine gets nothing like the “Great news” item that appears on my X380 Yoga (see lead-in graphic). That’s right: my brand-new AMD PC gets no Windows 11 love from WU.

If Brand-new AMD PC Gets No Windows 11 Love, Now What?

Because I purpose built the machine for Windows 11, I could use the ISO I grabbed from MS yesterday. I’d mount that image, then run setup.exe to perform an in-place upgrade install instead. I wrote on Monday that it can take a while for machines to get the WU offer at Microsoft’s discretion. Little did I know that my new AMD PC (less than a month old) would fall outside that limit. Go figure!

I have to laugh. It’s always been a bit of a mystery as to how MS opens up availability during a “gradual rollout.” Ditto for the criteria it uses to gradually extend that availability to an ever-increasing population of PCs over time. I expected that new stuff would meet those criteria sooner rather than later. My expectations have been dashed, but I don’t take that personally.  I just need to decide what to do.

Upgrade Now Vs. Upgrade Later?

Because there’s no compelling reason for that AMD PC to run Windows 11, I’m tempted to wait and see how long it takes to get an offer from WU. As I observed in my Monday post, “The first machines to get an upgrade offer will be those for which telemetry shows no upgrade problems.” I’ve heard from plenty of AMD owners over at Elevenforum that they’ve successfully installed Windows 11 on such PCs. That includes builds with 5800X CPUs, just like mine.

Thus, it comes down to patience and curiosity. I’ll try to hold onto the former so I can further exercise the latter. But if history is any guide, I probably won’t last much past Halloween before I hitch that machine to the Windows 11 star. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

News of Performance Issues Say: “Later”

Just this morning a number of stories about Windows 11 performance issues on AMD CPUs have surfaced. See, for example this NeoWin item “AMD processors hit by performance issues…” Or this OnMSFT story “AMD acknowledges Windows 11 performance issues…” Looks like the “lack of love” comes out of genuine concerns for less-than-positive outcomes. I bet my status changes after the promised and forthcoming AMD performance patch is out. We’ll see!

 

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Windows 11 GA Follies Underway

OK, then. I learned something new and interesting yesterday. Thanks to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, I now know that October 5 really started at 4 PM Eastern (US) the day before. That meant I was able to try out two new facilities late in the day, as Microsoft got the Windows 11 GA follies underway in earnest. Let me explain…

What Does Windows 11 GA Follies Underway Mean?

GA stands for “General Availability” and represents the timeline entry for an OS release at which point anyone can access it. If they have a legit Windows 10 license they can upgrade to it. They can also now access numerous Windows 11 specific tools through the Download Windows 11 page, including:

  • The Windows 11 Installation Assistant (for upgrading the machine you’re using)
  • The Windows 11 Media Creation Tool (for creating a bootable UFD or DVD)
  • Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO) to obtain a mountable multi-image ISO for planned installation or image customization

I’ve already done all of those things, though I haven’t yet used the UFD I built, or put the downloaded ISO to work. Here’s a brief recitation of what happened.

Item 1: Installation Assistant

My first GA upgrade target was my trusty Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop (8th-gen Intel CPU, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB NVMe SSD, TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot enabled). I’d already made sure it met Windows 11 requirements, but I did hit a snag during installation.

I had Start10 installed on this PC. And when the Installation Assistant got about 80% through with the installation part, it stopped and told me I had to uninstall Start10 before it could proceed. Because uninstalling Start10 itself requires a restart, I knew this meant I had to clear this out and then start over. So that’s what I did.

To my surprise, the Installation Assistant kept the install files so I didn’t have to download them again. This short-circuited the process by a good five minutes. But the second try at install took quite a while to complete — nearly 40 minutes by my clock. My advice to readers: if you’re running a start menu replacement program, uninstall it before you begin the upgrade process. In the long run it will save on time and aggravation.

Item 2: MCT Revisited

The new version of the MCT is named MediaCreationToolW11.exe. At 9,532KB in size (as reported in Explorer) it’s a pretty quick download. I like it that MS is labeling MCTs with the version of Windows they’ll grab for you. Makes them much easier to tell apart. In fact, I usually label them when I download them anyway for that very purpose. Glad to see MS beating me to the punch here.

Just for grins I went through the UFD drill with an older 8 GB UFD I had sitting around. The download part took less than a minute to complete (I have a fast Internet connection, fortunately). Building the on-media image took a little bit longer: a bit under five minutes on a 2016 vintage Patriot Blitz 8GB UFD device. It got renamed to ESD-UDB during the build process (which reflects MS use of the compressed version of WIM for speedier download/smaller disk footprint). Total disk space consumed: 4.16 GB.

Item 3: ISO Download

Because I’m a huge Ventoy fan (and regular user) this method gets me images for all kinds of uses (install, repair, troubleshooting and so forth). That’s why I don’t mess around with bootable UFD devices anymore. MS advertises, and DISM confirms, that this is a multi-part ISO image (7 parts, in fact, as shown in the following screencap):

Windows 11 GA Follies Underway.dism-scan

7 total images, each with its own index, in the official Win11 ISO
[Click image for full-sized view.]

So Far, So Good. What’s Next?

I have now force-upgraded the X1 Extreme (and then installed Start 11, which is supposed to get a major update in a couple of days). I plan to update my wife’s Dell 7080 Micro with its 11th-gen CPU today or tomorrow. I’m going to wait on WU for other Windows 11 ready machines to see when the get “the offer.” Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted as the rollout proceeds. So far, though, it’s been pretty easy and straightforward. Except for the Start 10 surprise in fact, it’s been smooth as glass.

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Windows 11: Revisiting Microsoft Gradual Rollouts

As I write this item on the morning of October 4, I’m sure I’m not the only person anticipating tomorrow’s General Availability release for the lastest Windows version. But with the approaching October 5 onset of Windows 11: Revisiting Microsoft Gradual Rollouts should help readers properly craft their expectations.

For Windows 11: Revisiting Microsoft Gradual Rollouts Sets the Stage

The watchwords here are “gradual rollouts.” This means that MS will start the release of Windows 11 with a trickle. The first machines to get an upgrade offer will be those for which telemetry shows no upgrade problems. That trickle will gradually increase over time as known problems get solved.

Another source of upgradability comes from so-called “seekers.” Seekers are those who grab upgrades via download without waiting for an offer from WU. Their telemetry will also show other machines that offer reasonable expectations of a positive upgrade experience. They, too, will start to get offers.

How Long to Get from Trickle to Flood?

If recent Windows 10 version upgrades are any indicator, it can take six months to a year before the gradual rollout switches over to wholesale access. It’s truly a data-driven exercise, in which telemetry provides the input to steer users into a new version “at the right time.”

My own track record is one of less patience, more WTF. I’ve tried to let WU dictate the pacing of upgrade offers for previous version. But I’ve not once been able to let WU drive upgrades for all six or seven of my production machines. These are the ones that run the current version of Windows 10, whatever it may be. Of that half-dozen, at least 5 meet Windows 11 requirements and will get the offer at some time or another.

Once again, I will wait awhile to see when that offer might come. It might take MS more than a month to extend it to my newest PCs (11th gen Intel and Ryzen 5800X CPUs). If so, I’ll do an ISO-based install from setup.exe soon thereafter. I’m just not that relaxed about making the 10-to-11 transition, I guess…

Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.

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Dev Channel Instability Promise Starts Manifesting

Back in late August, Microsoft sent an email to Windows Insiders. It indicated that the company would “soon be flighting early development builds in the Dev Channel.” That e-mail was reported by an Italian TV station, HTNovo. In fact, it’s the source for this story’s lead-in graphic. The next line in the email reads “These builds may be less stable…” With the last few (2 or 3) releases, this Dev Channel instability promise starts manifesting itself. At least, on my Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Hybrid Tablet, anyhow.

Dev Channel Instability Promise Starts Manifesting Exactly How?

Two Builds back — namely 22458, installed on 9/17 — I noticed my X12 start getting laggy and draggy. Click on a Start menu item, and there’s a noticeable pause before it opens. Double-click inside an application — Explorer, for example — and it takes one or two seconds for the drive or folder to expand and show its contents.

I’ve also noticed that the Belkin Thunderbolt dock on that PC is running at about half-speed. I’m seeing data transfers closer to 500 Mbps in Macrium Reflect, and around 70-80 MBps in Explorer for large file transfers. Wired Ethernet is topping out at under 100 Mbps on my nominal GbE Internet connection, which routinely delivers 600-800 Mbps on other wired connections. The same dock runs much faster on a Windows 10 PC, and a USB-C NVMe attached to the X12’s other USB C port directly (no intermediating dock) also runs much, much faster.

Learning What “Less Stable” Means

The weird thing is my older, less capable X380 Yoga (8th gen Intel CPU Thunderbolt 3) isn’t slowing down as much as the X12. That newer tablet includes an 11th gen Intel CPU, faster RAM, and a Thunderbolt 4 interface. My gut feeling is that the penalty must be related to newer-gen drivers and interfaces. My hope is that MS works out the kinks sooner, not later.

I installed the latest Build (22468) yesterday. It is much less laggy and draggy than the preceding 22463 and 22458 builds. But it’s still not “nearly instant.” My Beta Channel test PC (another X380 Yoga) is snappy and even a bit faster than it was when running recent Windows 10 builds.

So right now, I’m having fun. I’m observing performance, looking for potential issues and causes, and giving the new builds a good workout. I don’t mind — it’s what I signed up for when I joined the Insider Program. But it is worth noting and reporting on. I’ll keep you posted as things change and develop further. Please: stay tuned!

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Windows 11 Gets Nifty New Paint App

As soon as I read about it online at WinAero, I jumped into the Store to visit Library → Updates on one of my two Dev Channel PCs. And indeed, a new version of Paint awaited me there. One quick update later, and I saw for myself that Windows 11 gets nifty new paint app. My quick scrawl appears on the canvas in the lead-in graphic for this story, and the update offer in the screencap that follows.

Windows 11 Gets Nifty New Paint App.store offer

The latest Paint version gets a Windows 11 style makeover.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

MS Store Update Means Windows 11 Gets Nifty New Paint App

If you look at the lead-in graphic for the story you’ll see right away that Paint has had a thorough makeover. The top-line ribbon features new-style icons and controls. The Colors elements are all in circular — not rectangular — swatches. There’s not much new inside, except for the Text tool (upper right corner under the Tools heading). But the new iteration is cute, fun to look at, and as easy to use as ever.

Behind the scenes, though, there’s still some catching for Microsoft to do. The “Editor Colors” window remains unchanged with square outlines around basic and custom color areas.

The base app has been reworked, but the color palette hasn’t caught up yet.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

So far, it looks like the new Paint version is off to a good start. I’ll be curious to see how this unfolds as October 5 comes and goes. Some of the necessary catch-up work looks likely to come after that, based on what I see right now. But, as usual, time will tell — as will the contents of next Tuesday’s public release. Stay tuned!

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Further Windows 11 Notification Wrinkles

This morning, when I jumped over to my X380 Yoga Dev Channel test PC, I noticed that notification/calendar access was once again MIA. Hmmm. I thought I’d fixed that when I updated Start 11 yesterday. Apparently, if the PC sleeps or hibernates, the MIA comes back as the machine wakes up. To me, this introduces further Windows 111 notification wrinkles.

Fixing Further Windows 11 Notification Wrinkles

The File Explorer process handles the taskbar and related “Windows dressing” elements. Thus, I wondered if a forcible restart to the Explorer process might not set things back to rights. Indeed it did! I thought MS was severing the link between File Explorer and the taskbar stuff in Windows 11. I seem to recall reading that somewhere. But if that’s in their plans, those plans have not yet been enacted. This usual fix for taskbar misbehavior  — that is, restarting explorer through Task Manager as shown in the lead-in graphic — still works to restore expected/desirable behavior.

What About News and Interests, Then?

What shows up in recent Windows 10 releases in the taskbar as “News and Interests” no longer pops up in Windows 11. Instead users must turn to Microsoft Start (MicrosoftStart.com, which morphs into www.msn.com/en-us/feed when loaded) to see the same information. I kind of miss the weather bug at the far right of the taskbar with its easy pop-up access.

But that’s not how things work in Windows 11 any more. It seems like only a few months ago that MS introduced this capability in Windows 10 (according to MakeUseOf.com, it was introduced to Insiders in early 2021, and went GA in May). I don’t really understand why this goes away in Windows 11, but it is what it is.

For the time being, at least, I still know how to tackle unresponsive taskbar elements. Let’s hope the File Explorer restart trick keeps working…

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Build 22463 Blocks Notification/Calendar Access

Last Thursday, I installed the latest Dev Channel build for Windows 11 on two test machines. Interestingly, I couldn’t access Notifications and the Calendar on one of them, while it worked perfectly on the other. Thinking about what’s different between those two, one has Start11 installed, the other does not. And indeed, Build 22463 blocks notification/calendar access only on the Start11-equipped PC. Could this be the problem? Probably, but let’s investigate…

If Build 22463 Blocks Notification/Calendar Access, Then What?

My first step was to check the Stardock website. Sure enough a new beta version (0.55) of Start11 is out, dated (gasp!) August 31. It hasn’t reached “quasi-production” status yet, but I figured it was worth a try. I downloaded and installed this version on the problem PC and sure enough: it fixed the issue.

Immediately after rebooting the test machine, I clicked on the far-right calendar icon in the taskbar. And immediately after that, what you see in the following screencap appeared on screen:

Build 22463 Blocks Notification/Calendar Access.notcal-backSometimes, the obvious cause of trouble turns out to be its actual cause as well. Luckily, this was not only easy to diagnose, it was also easy to fix — thanks to an update about which I had been unaware.

Take a Troubleshooting Lesson from My Experience

It’s incredibly benefiicial to have a base for comparison when troubleshooting often complex software interactions on Windows PCs. That’s why I made sure one of my Windows 11 test configurations runs plain-vanilla all the way: no menu changes, no appearance tweaks, no registry hacks, and so forth. And because that PC worked just fine with build 22463, it let me zero in quickly on what was different (and ultimately, involved) in this taskbar/menuing issue.

If you’re going to work on Insider Previews, it’s a good idea to take a similar approach. Always leave one test PC as plain vanilla as possible, to help eliminate MS as the cause of UI and app/application misbehavior. If that plain-vanilla machine does not have issues, whatever’s different on other machines is most likely at fault. That’s how it often works in general. And that’s how it worked this time in particular. It’s nice when things are clear cut and easily diagnosed, here in Windows-World. I only wish things worked out so quickly and easily in most such cases (in my experience, only about half do. Those that persist beyond the obvious can be devilish indeed).

 

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21H1 Build 19044.1237 Represents Upcoming Release

The last cumulative update for the Release Preview Channel hit Insiders on September 14. In fact, looks like MS put a ribbon around this upcoming 21H2 release. According to deskmodder.de, KB5005565 is as close to final as a preview release can get. Thus, 21H1 Build 19044.1237 represents upcoming release on the Windows 10 track.

Who says: 21H1 Build 19044.1237 Represents Upcoming Release?

Deskmodder. de is an unusually well-informed and highly reliable German website that’s got a great track record for predicting releases. In English, his story headline translates as “Windows 10 21H2: ‘Final’ version will be 19044.1237” (link is to German original). My only dedicated Windows 10 test machine right now is a 2014 vintage Surface Pro 3 (4th gen Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD). It’s the source for the lead-in graphic for this story.

I’m actually thinking about keeping my old 2016-vintage i7-6700K desktop up and running for Windows 10, too. I’ve decided to build my new production desktop in a retired PC’s Antec 900 case. It remains a quiet, capable and useful enclosure, especially as I’ve added a Thunderbolt/USB-C/USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 5.25″ drive bay to that unit. That gives me more and better high-speed ports than the 2010 vintage case itself provides.

Keeping On With Windows 10

Until now, my Windows release tracking strategy has been: follow the latest, abandon the rest. But this time the controversy over hardware requirements tells me a substantial segment of the user population will stay with Windows 10 until the bitter end in October 2025. Thus, it behooves me to keep up with Windows 10 releases and issues on the trailing edge. And of course, I’ll be upgrading the bulk of my fleet (9 PCs: 3 laptops and 6 desktops) to Windows 11.

The deskmodder article airs the speculation that 21H2 may be the last “real upgrade” to the Windows 10 development fork. I’m not sure I agree with that, especially given the similarity between the Win10 and Win11 code bases, and my gut feel for the size of the user base that will stick with the older OS. I’m pretty sure MS will back-port important stuff especially if the sizable and potent base of business users does not jump early and often onto Windows 11.

As I think back on business migration patterns to new Windows OSes, it seems  that 2 years after initial release is when those users really start gearing up. Given that 2025 is still 4 years away, I think Windows 10 will remain dominant in business until 2023. Unless MS comes out with “killer features” that businesses can’t live without beforehand, that’s the way they’ve always done it. So far, I don’t see any compelling reasons why Windows 11 uptake should be any different.

As usual, only time will tell. For the next two years at least, Windows 10 and Windows 11 will very much be parallel efforts, IMHO at least.

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What Is Windows 11 Update Entitlement?

Things are getting interesting for those who want to install Windows 11 on out-of-spec PCs. By “out-of-spec” I mean  devices that don’t meet Microsoft’s Windows 11 hardware requirements. Check the warning that Microsoft insists that users accept before allowing installation to proceed. It appears in the lead-in graphic for this story. I’ve boxed the key sentence in red therein. It reads: “If you proceed with installing Windows 11, your PC will no longer be supported and won’t be entitled to receive updates.” This raises the question in the title —  “What is Windows 11 update entitlement?”

Answering: What Is Windows 11 Update Entitlement?

The upshot of this warning has three consequences. First, it means MS won’t block users from installing Windows 11 on out-of-spec PCs. Two, it means MS could withhold updates from those PCs at any time.  At least, that’s how I read the phrase “won’t be entitled to receive updates.” Third, out-of-spec PCs running Windows 11 won’t be eligible for MS support  should problems present.

This information (and the screencap that leads off this story) comes from The Verge. It is entitled “Windows 11 won’t stop older PCs, but it might make you sign this waiver.” Its subtitle reads “Microsoft reserves the right to deny updates.” The staff obviously concludes that a lack of update entitlement equates to a “right to deny updates.” I concur with this logic.

Right Now, Everything’s OK

The Verge story cites further to a “perfectly good 7th-gen Core i7 desktop gaming PC.” On it, the author has “already installed Windows 11 and [is] running it with no major issues.” This strikes a potent nerve with me. Why? Because I’m typing this story on my production PC. It includes an i7-6700, an Asrock Extreme7+ mobo, 32 GB RAM, and Samsung 1TB 950 NVMe SSD. This machine is also quite able to run Windows 11. That said, it fails requirements checks because of CPU, TPM and Secure Boot support.

Lots of people and businesses have older PCs able to run Windows 11.  Some believe they’re being unfairly prevented from upgrading. And again, that’s true right now. But I believe MS has plans for Windows 11 not yet disclosed. As those plans unfold, new OS features and capabilities could call on PC hardware in ways the current version does not. I must guess that such calls would force MS to deny related updates on out-of-spec PCs. If such updates demand certain capabilities, and some PCs lack them, that makes sense. Only time will tell. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

One thing’s for sure. Speaking purely for myself, I have zero inclination to push my luck on this front. That’s why the parts for my desktop hardware refresh to meet Windows 11 requirements are sitting in my office right now. I just need to make time to make that refresh happen. Sigh.

 

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Nvidia’s Microsoft Windows 11 Game Ready Driver

OK, then. As October 5 gets ever closer, more of the pieces start falling into place. This morning (September 20), Nvidia released GeForce Driver Version 472.12. As you can see in the lead-in graphic for this story, the GeForce download page bills this new offering as a Microsoft Windows 11 Game Ready Driver.

Obtaining the Microsoft Windows 11 Game Ready Driver

The driver weighs in at nearly 723MB (they keep getting bigger, don’t they). You can grab a copy using GeForce Experience or directly from its download page. With two Nvidia-equipped PCs here at Chez Tittel, I was able to confirm that it downloads and installs just fine on both Windows 10 and 11 rigs. I can also say it goes much faster on an 8-core 2021 CPU than a 2014 4-core model.

What Can Go Wrong, Didn’t — This Time

I’ve seen previous GeForce drivers from Nvidia cause occasional Windows problems. These have varied from effects as trivial as momentary screen blinking or blanking to out-and-out BSODs. So far, thank goodness, the 472.12 version seems entirely stable and well-behaved.

That’s good: the last thing users want to face when tackling a new OS is driver problems to make things more interesting. After the official upgrade to Windows 11 comes and goes early next month (October 5), we’ll have a better idea of where production issues may manifest. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the recent trickle of updates from the likes of Intel, AMD, and now Nvidia, as they get ready for an influx of Windows 11 updates. Indeed, I’m sure many are hoping for a flood of Windows-11 ready (and installed) PCs to hit stores and users’ hot little hands this holiday season, too.

 

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