Category Archives: Insider stuff

Happy 17th Birthday PowerShell

In reading about the run-up to the MS Ignite conference — getting underway in Seattle — I learned this morning that November 14 is the anniversary date for PowerShell. That’s why I expressed the sentiment in the title — namely “Happy 17th Birthday PowerShell!”

Why Say: Happy 17th Birthday PowerShell?

Since its inception in 2006, PowerShell (PS) has slowly and steadily taken over the lead role at the command line for Windows admins and enthusiasts. Probably more importantly, PS became open-source and cross-platform in August 2016 with the debut of PowerShell Core. According to Wikipedia, as of Windows 10 Build 14971 (November 2016) PS took over the default role as primary command line shell for Windows.

What makes PS worth getting to know? Unlike the Command Prompt (which traces all the way back to DOS days) it’s a fully featured runtime environment. Thus it handles task automation and configuration management. And it does so in an environment that’s got most of the capabilities of a full-blown programming environment. Shoot: you can create interactive scripts using PS, and you can embed PS within other applications. Then, too, PS supports an extensive library of built-in cmdlets (“commandlets”) to support all kinds of specialized, focused operations. It also works both locally and remotely. IMO, it’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

The Journey to PS Nerdvana

I’ve been working with PS increasingly since it initially became available around the same time that Windows Vista appeared. But it’s only in the last 3-4 years I’ve really started working with it more extensively. It is very much the case that the more I’ve used it, the more I’ve come to like PowerShell.

Indeed, I’ve got a TekkiGurus story coming sometime soon that provides a PS script to show how I customize Windows Terminal and PS on my PCs. (I’ll link to it when it goes live.) It includes:

  • Download, installing and configuring OhMyPosh, along with a Nerd Font is uses for prompt customization in PowerShell
  • Download, install, and add a ColorTool to the PS environment
  • Install and use Winfetch to show off current WT/PS look and feel

So again: happy birthday, PowerShell. You’ve made my job in setting up and taking care of Windows images and installations much, much easier. Thanks a bunch!


Key Combo Kills Screen Toggle

I’ve been here too many times before. Part of my morning routine is a the daily challenge at the Microsoft Solitaire Connection. Occasionally my right hand screen (my playing field, so to speak) will flicker on and off while I’m playing. If it persists more than a few times, I know I need a fix. Over time, Ive learned that a certain key combo kills screen toggle (on-off) effects. For the record that combo is WinKey+Ctrl+Shift+B. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This morning, it did the trick quite nicely.

Which Key Combo Kills Screen Toggle?

Interestingly enough, Mayank Parmar wrote a story about the Winkey+Ctrl+Shift+B key combo at Windows Latest this morning. I suppose since I was running Windows 10 (not 11 as in the title of that item) I should observe that this trick works there, too. In fact, as he reports there correctly, this combo has been part of Windows since Vista made the scene in 2006.

I’ve been in situations like the one I described above (e.g playing MS Solitaire and the screen starts blinking on and off) when the key combo does NOT fix things. Oddly enough when that has happened in the past, it’s been readily rectified by running GeForce Experience to determine that a new graphics driver is available. And so far, when those two things are true (screen is toggling; new driver is ready to download) switching from the old to a new driver has fixed the problem.

For More Serious Graphics Issues…

If neither the WinKey+Ctrl+Shift+B combo, nor a new driver, fixes things life suddenly gets more interesting. Trying the driver version prior to the one that was running will sometimes work (and sometimes not). After that, it usually requires checking the GPU and making sure it’s seated properly, checking and possibly swapping graphics cables from GPU to monitor, and checking the monitor itself. On a laptop that all happens internally (and for many folks, may require a trip to the repair shop or an OEM depot).

For all our sakes, I hope things don’t go that far if the display starts acting a little flaky. FWIW, the key combo almost always works for me. May it do the same for you!


OneDrive Quit Flap Flopped Magnificently

I have to laugh. In the past week-plus, a huge to-do has emerged around OneDrive. Seems that MS decided not to let users quit the program without providing a reason. That is, users had to pick from a list of options to explain why they were exercising the “Quit OneDrive” option shown in the lead-in graphic before the program would cease operations. Today, MS removed that requirement as this OneDrive Quit flap flopped magnificently with users. They didn’t buy in!

Why OneDrive Quit Flap Flopped Magnificently

Simply put, the overwhelming consensus from users varied between “WTF!” and “You can’t make me do that!!!” MS was testing this survey and got savaged by respondents. According to Sergey Tkachenko at WinAero “Following negative customer feedback, Microsoft has decided to revert the OneDrive exit confirmation.” Again: LOL!

Here’s the list of options that MS presented to users as they attempted to exit OneDrive (screen-capped from the afore-linked WinAero story, since I missed to the whole shebang):

OneDrive Quit Flap Flopped Magnificently.quitlist

7 Ways to Leave Your OneDrive.(Credit: WinAero)

Now the quit option has reverted to its former less vexing version, as shown here:

So Quit, Already…

Case closed, I guess. Somebody, somewhere is surely thinking: “Let’s not do THAT again for a while, OK?” And boy bowdy, is that ever the way things go in Windows-World from time to time. The last laugh is the best one, they say — so let it rip! Still chuckling…


WU Finally Proffers 23H2

OK, then. The wait is over — for the Ryzen 5800X system anywho. I just checked WU on that machine and got an offer. Now that WU finally proffers 23H2 on that system, it’s kind of an anticlimax. Took less than 3 minutes to download and install, reboot and everything.

As WU Finally Proffers 23H2, I Install It!

I’ve been deliberately waiting on this offer, to see how long it would take for WU to make it happen. Now I know: this time, it took 9 days after the original info came out for WU to come knocking at my door. One wonders, sometimes, how these things happen. I’m just glad the new release is finally arriving through “official channels.”

On my “big beast” test PCs — most notably, the P16 and P1 Gen 6 Mobile Workstation Thinkpads — I wasn’t inclined to wait. I simply grabbed the MSU file that Shawn Brink posted at, and had at it right away. I could be patient where the Asrock B550 (Ryzen 5800X, 64 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD) and Dell Optiplex 7080 (11th-gen i7, 32GB RAM, 1 TB SSD) were concerned.

So, whatever the holdup may have been, it came off sometime in the last 24 hours (I last checked these PCs in the morning yesterday, so it could be more like 30 hours, but no more). And now, things are upgraded.

Known Issues Sez…

I’d wondered if the BitLocker or Intel Smart Sound Technology issues on the Known Issues list might have been involved. I see they’ve both been “Mitigated.” But neither has been updated since October 31. So neither is an obvious culprit for the hold on those two PCs, either.

Sigh: I may never know what slowed the offer, or what eventually made it come through. Can I live with that? Heck, yeah! That just the way things sometimes go, here in Windows-World. By now, I’m used to it…




November Windows 11 Deprecation Includes Tips

For some, this may be good news. For others, not so much. MS announced a raft of “Deprecated features for Windows Client” on November 7. Among them is one of my personal pet peeves. That’s right November Windows 11 Deprecation includes tips app amidst its number, along the Computer Browser, WebDAV, and Remote Mailslots, atop a list of older items. See the afore-linked MS Learn item for all the details.

If November Windows 11 Deprecation Includes Tips, Then What?

First of all deprecated doesn’t exactly mean “dead.” Instead, it means something more like “while it’s on its way to oblivion, you’d best learn to live without it.”  Microsoft positions this status as follows:

The features in this article are no longer being actively developed, and might be removed in a future update. Some features have been replaced with other features or functionality and some are now available from other sources.

That’s OK with me, because I was never a huge fan of the Tips app. I seldom, if ever, turned to it explicitly. And when MS fired it in my direction thanks to defaults or settings I didn’t (yet) know about, I would invariably turn them off when they made themselves known.

Tips app info from the Windows 11 Start Menu.

But that’s just me. For all I know, there are plenty of people left in the lurch with the immanent departure of Tips from the scene. All I can say is; I’m glad not to be a member of that no-doubt disconsolate group.

For Me, Opting In Beats Opting Out

In general I’m of the opinion that if MS wants to make information services available to users, they should introduce and explain them. Then, after demonstrating their costs and benefits, they should give interested users an opportunity to opt in. Those who want to use those services can do so, but those who don’t want them need do nothing to keep them at bay.

Indeed, there’s a whole class of emerging Windows built-ins called System Components (see my October 27 post for deets) for which the same treatment makes good sense (Tips is among them, in case you wondered). Ditto for things like the new Windows Backup app, now included in ALL Windows 11 distros, over the vehement and vociferous objections of Enterprise and Education license holders.

Gosh! If MS were to adopt an opt-in philosophy for all stuff that’s not strictly necessary for Windows 11 to function properly, it would make life easier for the admins who handle images and their deployment and the people who use them. Something to consider, eh? Hope somebody high up at MS takes this to heart…


SUMo Is Turned Off

I have to laugh, so I don’t cry. Despite rumors that its developer, Kyle Katarn, might republish his dandy Software Update Monitor (S U Mo) utility as Open Source code, the supporting servers shut down on November first. Notice the company slogan for KC Softwares (Katarn’s company, and the program’s maker) reads: “We are here to stay.” Now that SUMo is turned off, there’s some irony there, eh?

When SUMO Is Turned Off, Then What?

I had a general inkling that things might go sideways on November 1. Why? Because the website reads:

KC Softwares activities are to be terminated by end of October 2023.
All products are to be considered as End-Of-Life (EOL) on October 31st 2023.

And indeed, when I tried to run the program on November 1, I got an error message as it tried to scan its database for the first item in its inventory (7-Zip, by virtue of its position at the top of the alph sorting order).

SUMo Is Turned Off.server-error

Trying again later is not going to help. The server is off.

Other, Less Palatable Alternatives

LifeWire has a September 11, 2023 story “11 Best Free Software Updater Programs.” At this point, I’ve tried them all. I’m a big fan of Patch My PC, but it doesn’t cover enough of my installed software base to do the job on its own. And so far, none of the others have really captured my fancy or regard.

Why is that? Most of the free versions have paid-for counterparts. And most of them also qualify as “teaseware” — that is, they tell you about things they could do for you if you purchased the paid-for version. For now, I’m getting by with winget (and WingetUI), Patch My PC, and a bit of elbow grease. Hopefully, a real contender will emerge (and sooner is better than later).

Stay tuned! I’ll keep you posted. But don’t hold your breath, either. This could — and probably will — take a while…


Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux

Back in June, I posted here about an odd issue regarding Teams updates. With a new app version of Teams out, it’s back again but in a different form. Simply put, winget wants me to upgrade from the standalone version  to the app version. The old version (which MS labels “Classic” online) is ID’d as Microsoft.Teams. So is the app version, but it is named “Microsoft Teams (work or school)” rather than just “Microsoft Teams.” In this distinction lies an interesting rub.

Why There’s a Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux

Turns out the “work or school” distinction matters to those who want to use Teams with an MSA that is NOT part of an Azure or Active Directory domain. That would be me, with the MSA I use for my WIMVP access to an online community that MS itself set up for this group. You can’t use the app version to login to this community because MS isn’t exposing the the right kind of alternative authentication outside the Azure/AD umbrella. When I try to use the app version with the MSA I need, it doesn’t work. If I switch to an MSA that works, I can’t access the communities I wish to see and use.

So I have to keep the classic version around, even though I typically log in to the WIMVP and other communities through the Web interface to classic teams. Indeed, I haven’t been able to access my non-Azure/AD MSA-based communities in Teams except through the classic version. This is interesting, and a bit frustrating, because the app version only works for my old Win10.Guru (AD-based) MSA, but for none of the other Teams communities to which I belong.

Teams App vs. Application Issue Redux.classic

When I type “teams” into the Start menu, the default is to open the app. Alas, I MUST use the “classic” version.

It’s just one of those things. I guess. I’ll be happy when Microsoft gets the work done to permit such MSAs to use the app version. Only then can I uninstall the classic version. Until that happens, I’m stuck with the “winget nag” phenomenon. Sigh.


Phased Windows 11 23H2 Rollout Bites Hard

It’s another never-ending story. Earlier this week, I found myself wondering why none of my 5 physical Windows 11 production PCs, nor either of my two Windows 11 production VMs, were getting any WU action for the 23H2 eKB (enablement package). Then I read from various sources (see this WindowsLatest item, for example) that it’s arriving as a “phased rollout.” Given my personal experience (0 for7) I must observe that the phased Windows 11 23H2 Rollout bites hard here at Chez Tittel. Go figure!

If Phased Windows 11 23H2 Rollout Bites Hard, Then…?

There are other ways to force the KB5027397 eKB onto a production Windows 11 22H2 system running 22621.2506. This makes the transition to 22631.2506 and changes the version number from 22H2 to 23H2. You can read all those details in Shawn Brink’s helpful ElevenForum post “…Enablement Package for Windows 11 version 23H2..” More important, there’s a link there to an MSU (Microsoft Update, with installer) file for X64 and Arm64 PCs. I’ve used it on three of my production PCs and both VMs now, so I’m convinced it’s legit and I know it works.

But gosh! I always wonder why MS makes us wait for updates to rollout. The official line is they’re being conservative and taking no chances on incurring errors or issues on existing Windows 11 PCs, especially older units. But with two of my population less than a year old, both running pretty beastly workstation grade configurations, I’m puzzled by their hold-backs.

On the two PCs that haven’t yet updated (a 2020 vintage Dell OptiPlex 7080 with 11th-gen i7, and a 2021 vintage Ryzen 5850X) I’m deliberately waiting. I’m checking daily to see when WU will “make the offer.” So far, nada. Stay tuned…


Start11 v2 Face-Up

I have to laugh. It’s something along Godfather III lines. I’d recently concluded I don’t need Start11 any more because I’m completely at home in the native Start menu. So I’m out. Then, Stardock introduces Start11 v2 — a completely new version for which users must pay to upgrade. Reading about its cool new features, they pull me back in. The lead-in screencap conveys its coolness quite nicely.

Look Top Right: See Start11 v2 Face-Up (Mine!)

Simply put, Start11 v2 lets the built-in Start menu shine through. But it provides all kinds of extras that it can’t do, too. Let’s start with my smiling face up top in the extra right-hand panel. Below, there’s  one-click access the old Library items (Documents, Downloads, etc.). But also my User folder root, Control Panel, Settings, the Run box and This PC in File Explorer (shows as “Computer” at bottom for what I guess are historical reasons).

You can choose from a palette of start menu looks and layouts. Mine is called Windows Pro Style as you can see in the next screencap:

Start11 v2 Face-Up.startstyles

7 start menu styles, many with controls for additional tweaks and twists.

In addition, Start11 v2 provides controls for the Start button itself (I like the Windows 11 logo), the taskbar and taskbar pins (including the ability to pin folders and folder menu pop-ups there), multiple search options and more. Because Start11 v2 accepts a multitude of tweaks, you can also save all that stuff (it’s called “Settings backup”) to a file, then restore and reset settings as you might like. If you have Voidtools Everything installed (part of my basic Windows toolkit), when you search inside the Start11 search facility its results are what come back to you in return. Great stuff!!!

Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Stardock comes along with a truly great uprade to its old stalwart Start menu replacement tool. But I guess we should call it a Start menu enhancement tool these days, eh? Because it was so cheap I sprung for the 5-pack. At under US$13 ($2.60 per instance) it’s too good a deal to pass up — especially against a US$5.99 single copy price.

Historical note: I got into Stardock’s start menu tools with Start8. I cheerfully confess to having been totally befuddled and put off when the “new, redesigned” native Start menu appeared in that OS. I’ve been a pretty loyal user ever since (including Start10). In a “let’s keep a good thing going” kind of way, I’m actually glad to have a reason to WANT to buy into Start11 v2. It had become mostly optional on my 10 or so Windows 11 PCs, tablets and notebooks.


Attaining Windows 11 23H2

In everything but name, I’ve already been running Windows 11 23H2 for a while. That level of functionality has been trickling into Windows 11 since September 11 with the release of KB5030310 (a preview update). A few days ago, the release of KB5031455 took Windows 11 to Build 22621.2506. Note the version and build numbers in the lead-in graphic. They support my assertion that there’s little difference between the two.

Steps to  Attaining Windows 11 23H2

Over at I’ve been reading about various ways to get to 23H2 in its Installation, Updates and Activation forum for the past few weeks. None of the easy methods outlined there did the trick for me. I wasn’t motivated enough to try the longer, harder ones — e.g. an in-place repair install using the recently published Windows 11 23H2 ISO (it’s now present on the Download Windows 11 page). Why not? I knew an enablement package for 23H2 was coming soon. (Note: for those not already hip, an enablement package is a small, quick update that simply turns on features and stuff already present in Windows but not yet visible or active.)

Today (or more precisely, yesterday) that changed with the release of KB5027397. It describes that very enablement package, and announces its availability. I’ve not been able to get WU to proffer it to me (though I did have pre-requisite KB5031455 already installed). Instead I grabbed the MSU link from ElevenForum admin @Brink (real name: Shawn Brink, a fellow WIMVP). It comes from an October 31 thread entitled KB5027397 Enablement Package for Windows 11 version 23H2 Feature Update.

It’s a ZIP file, so must be unpacked before it may be run. But run it does — and quickly, too: the whole shebang was done in under 2 minutes on my Lenovo ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation. After a reboot, the target PC should produce nearly the same winver information shown above. Note the “Version 23H2” moniker in the second line of the fine print. Nerdvana!