Category Archives: Insider stuff

Windows 11 Insider Preview Channel Switching

OK, then: I HAD to do it. I read this morning that MS is releasing a redesign of the  All Apps aspect of the Start menu in the Beta Channel. Naturally, I kicked one of my production laptops upstairs to join the channel to see that change for myself. Along the way I got to remember (or relearn) what’s involved in Windows 11 Insider Preview channel switching. (Hint: no remote control needed.)

Getting Into Windows 11 Insider Preview Channel Switching

It’s been a while, so I had to go through the motions to remember them. First, I had to join that PC to the Insider Preview program. Then I had to select my Insider Preview channel — Beta, in this case. Then I had to restart the PC and run WU again. In fact, I had to do that twice (run WU, that is — only 1 restart required at that point). And finally, as you can see in the lead-in graphic:

  1. The Update Stack Package that makes the Insider Preview installable
  2. The actual Insider Preview package itself (Build 22635.3420)

Of course once all that stuff gets installed, I’ll reboot again and go through the post-GUI installer stuff. That’s what actually upgrades the OS from the current production version 22635.3374) to the aforementioned Beta build.  When all that’s done I can go look for the new Start menu All apps stuff. As is typical, this takes a while (I’m about 12 minutes into the process and “Installing” for the OS is at 35% complete right now. Thus, it could be another 20 minutes before it’s done.) In the meanwhile, I’m standing by… And indeed it took a total of about 26 minutes to go from start to desktop for that process.

What About All Apps?

It’s another one of those things where MS may still be testing internally only, or doing another of its gradual rollouts. Thus, you guessed it: I still get the left-justified all apps list on my freshly-upgraded test PC. I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s always disappointing to go looking for something new only to see the “same old, same old.” Sigh.

Of course, I’ll keep checking back and see when the switchover happens. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted…

Note Added 1 Hour Later

As I continue catching up with Windows news, I see over at NeoWin that a vivetool hack is required to enable the All apps grid in the latest beta version. I don’t do that on my beta machines to keep them in line with MS releases (it’s an MVP thing). So I guess I’ll have to wait awhile. Rumor has it this might hit “for real” on Patch Tuesday (April 9). We’ll see!

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Digesting WinGet Updates Gets Interesting

I just noticed something odd about my latest WinGet update cycle. It worked just fine but threw a “Failed in attempting to update the source: winget” error before proceeding. When I check version info on WinGet itself it shows version v1.7.10861. Running winget show Microsoft.AppInstaller (the app name for the environment that includes WinGet) it shows version v1.22.10861.0. When I attempt to update it comes back “No available upgrade found.” When I run another general update check, it says “No installed packages…” meaning “Nothing to see here!” This makes me thing that digesting WinGet updates gets interesting — some of the time, at least. Let me explain…

Digesting WinGet Updates Gets Interesting.store-info

Note App Installer got “Modified yesterday” (that’s an update)!

IMO Digesting WinGet Updates Gets Interesting

When I check the MS Store, I see that it updated App Installer just yesterday. This is the first time I’ve run Windows Terminal and Winget since that update. Methinks it may take an exit-restart maneuver after the update for the new stuff to take effect.

To test my theory, I fire off a new instance of Windows Terminal/PowerShell and run winget upgrade –all –include-unknown again. This time it repeats the “No installed package…” message. That lets me know things are all caught up. No mention of “Failed in attempting to update the source: winget,” either.

That may not prove my theory, but it certainly adds it a bit more credence. How did I figure this out? On my Windows 10 PC, I actually updated Microsoft.AppInstaller as part of the sequence that stated with “Failed in attempting to update the source: winget.” That got me to thinking that a winget self-update might temporarily throw off the access to its source. And, by golly, I think that may just explain what’s going on here. As I said before: it’s interesting!

 

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Windows 10 Lockscreen Follies

OK, it may be another case of: gradual rollout, I’m on the tailing end. Or it may be something is misbehaving. I’m trying out the new Lock Screen behaviors in Windows 10 Build 19045.4239. I can see the weather bug, and I can turn on the “other lock screen apps” but none of them show up. Right now, I’m updating a VM on another PC so I can take screencaps to show what’s happening. Hence my assertion I’m engaging in Windows 10 lockscreen follies. Fun, actually!

What Windows 10 Lockscreen Follies Tell Me…

I’m a great believer in trying out and observing new stuff as it shows up in Windows. I’ve learned that I don’t understand things anywhere near as well when reading about them, as I do when installing or setting them up, then using them. There’s something about the actual experience that improves my apprehension and comprehension. Plus, I like to tinker with stuff (to the point where I’ll try to break things so I can learn how to fix them).

Once I confirmed I was indeed running 19045.4239 I started playing with the lock screen settings. Again, I can see the background coming from Spotbright, and the weather info. And again, I cannot see status from the other apps I’ve chosen for display. Homer Simpson moment hits: I bet they have to be RUNNING to show something. …goes off to try … doesn’t seem to help (nor does placing the open app window on my #1 screen, which also might be a factor).

Trailing Behind the Gradual Rollout…Again

Looks like I’ve got all the controls up and going, but they’re not doing anything. But about “more content” on the lockscreen, the announcement says “This feature might not be available to all users because it will roll out gradually.” Based on my nearly unbroken record in avoiding the front ranks during such times, I’m guessing it will make its way to my lockscreens later, rather than sooner!

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted. The Lord only knows why, but I’m starting to like the idea of a status-filled lockscreen…

 

 

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Achieving Windows 11 Moment 5

I knew I had to have it, as soon as I read it was available. The “It” in this case is what many observers are calling “Moment 5” — the next step in the evolution and release of Windows 11. Thurrott says it’s supposed to be available as a “Week D Preview” from WU. But I had to visit the KB5035942 announcement, and follow its link to the Update Catalog to get myself a copy. I’m still only partway toward achieving Windows 11 Moment 5 right now, because the MSU is still busy getting the update installed.

Achieving Windows 11 Moment 5.msu-working

It takes a good while for this update to process…be patient!

Is Achieving Windows 11 Moment 5 Good?

The Microsoft Standalone Update (MSU) installer ticks along for several minutes as the install process grinds through its paces. I didn’t see a lot of heavy CPU activity (Thanks to the 8GadgetPack CPU Usage widget, I can always see what my processor is up to) while this was happening, either. A closer look via Task Manager showed the TiWorker.exe process consuming 1-2% of CPU and less for WmiPrivSrv.exe and TrustedInstaller.exe. Otherwise, it didn’t show much evidence of installer activity, either.

TLDR version: it takes forever while the MSU says “Copying packages to the Windows Update cache.” And a funny thing, too: I just checked one of my other production-level Windows 11 PCs (the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme) and it’s already been updated automatically, entirely on its own. It’s the source of the Winver output that leads off this story, in fact. That leads to an interesting question:

Why X1 Extreme and not P16?

The P16 machine I’m running the MSU on right now is also set to “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available?” just as is the X1 Extreme. Yet the latter gets it on its own, while the former does not (nor does it see the update offered in WU, either). Methinks there may be some kind of device hold on this newer, more capable mobile workstation model (P16) to which the older laptop (X1 Extreme) is not subject.

So now, I’m waiting to see how it all turns out. And meanwhile, the MSU just keeps grinding away at copying packages. Stay tuned … I’ll report back when the wheels stop turning to tell you what happened.

Progress! The status window just changed to “The updates are being installed” with a progress bar for “Installing.” Perhaps it’s finally getting somewhere. Let’s see…

Now the mills of the Gods are back to grinding at their usual glacial pace. But it is indeed moving ahead, so fingers crossed for a successful conclusion, about 20 minutes into download and install. At 22 minutes in: success! See the next screencap for confirmation:

Time to restart, and let the OS patch itself. Nice to see the Catalog update at work, for a change.

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Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I just saw an interesting story over at Windows Latest. It’s entitled Microsoft; Industry considers Windows on ARM as the future of computing. We’ve seen Windows on ARM for 3-plus years now. But so far, the user experience has been more under- than over- whelming. Nevertheless,  I’m inclined to agree that ARM has revolutionary PC potential going forward.  Thus IMO it IS reasonable to ask: Is ARM in your PC’s future? Let me explain… as you look at the CPU package in the lead-in graphic (Image Credit: AnfraShop.com).

Why say: Is ARM In Your PC’s Future?

I’ve been writing ongoing tech briefs for HPE, around the  ProLiant server family since last December. Much of my research, analysis and reporting has centered around ARM CPUs. Specifically, I’ve been exploring benefits they confer on cloud-based servers vis-a-vis top-of-the-line x86 Intel and AMD processors :

  • Energy efficiency: ARM CPUs routinely deliver the same or better performance as the other CPUs, but consume 50-70% less power.
  • Footprint: ARM CPU-based servers require only 1/3 the physical space (and volume) of their intel or AMD counterparts. That means either major savings on rack space, cooling, cabling and yada-yada, or 3 times as much capability in the same space.
  • Predictable and improved performance: ARM (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) CPUs use a single constant clock speed and lots of cores to keep things in synch and running smoothly. They can handle higher loads, faster and more predictably (with less jitter, too) than the competition.
  • High core-count ARM CPUs (Ampere Altra and Altra Max) can handle AI workloads without needing supplementary GPUs to offload or assist with such processing. Considering that the latest high-end Blackwell NVIDIA GPU is expected to cost US$30-40K, that’s HUGE (the current spot price for the top-of-the-line Ampere Altra Max M128-30 is US$2,305).

Pretty amazing, eh? It’s already shaking up the cloud and data center server market in a big, big way.

What Does This Have to Do with End-User PCs and Laptops?

Right now, not much. But in general, the ARM processors all share the smaller footprint and improved energy efficiency characteristics that help set the high-end ARM server CPUs apart from intel and AMD. They won’t offer anywhere near the same number of cores, and they’re also likely to use multiple core types (Ampere Altra uses only single-threaded cores, all identical, all in lock-step).

A March 13 MS announcement about worldwide availability of an “ARM advisory service for developers” had this to say about ARM silicon:

This is no surprise, as many across the industry consider Windows on Arm devices as the future of computing, with unparalleled speed, battery life, and connectivity.

Like me, MS apparently sees the uptake of the advantages that ARM architecture brings to computing having a significant impact at the end-user level. This is going to be interesting to watch unfold. It’s going to be even more fun to play with and test, to see if the running gear lives up to the breathless hype. If the benchmarks that Ampere and HPE are publishing are any indication, this could very well shake up desktops and laptops over the next year or two, as it’s already doing so for the rack-mounted server market right now.

Will the next PC/laptop I test have an ARM CPU? Gosh, I hope so. Will the next PC/laptop I BUY have an ARM CPU? Jury’s still out, but it’s looking at least possible, if not downright likely…

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MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle

Here’s a good one, right from my Windows 10 desktop this morning. As per usual practice, I ran winget upgrade –all –include-unknown to see what updates might be available after the weekend.  I promptly ran into a Catch-22 as you can see in the lead-in screencap. I call it an MS Edge 1220.2365.106 Winget Upgrade puzzle, because the package manager finds an upgrade for Edge that I can’t figure out how to install. Let me explain…

What’s the MS Edge 122.0.2365.106 Winget Upgrade Puzzle?

In a nutshell, here’s what the lead-in graphic depicts (there’s more, as you will shortly see in the following list of items):

1. Winget reports that an upgrade for Edge from version 122.0.2635.92 to …106 (first three groups of digits stay the same) is available.

2. Winget upgrade –all –include-unknown fails because “install technology of the newer version is different…” I’ve definitely seen this before. Note the error message advises an uninstall/reinstall maneuver to fix things.

3.  Winget uninstall Microsoft.Edge fails with exit code 93

4. An attempt to force the uninstall fails with the same exit code

5. A visit to Settings > Apps > All installed apps offers no uninstall option for Edge. Indeed, it’s pretty well known in Windows circles that Edge is notoriously tricky to uninstall. See, for example. this github “Remove-MS-Edge” script…

When in Doubt, Report to the Winget Team…

I have to believe this is a slight hiccup on the Winget team’s part. From long experience in working with the program daily since it was introduced at the end of June, 2020, I know that (a) Catch-22s sometimes pop up and (b) they usually get fixed fairly soon after they appear. My best guess is that this particular instance will get handled in the next few days.

For my part, I’m sending a link to this blog post to Demitrius Nelon, the leader of the Winget team via Twitter. This usually provokes immediate and corrective action. Let’s see what happens…

Stay tuned! Note: FWIW, Windows 11 versions are not subject to this gotcha. AFAICT this is a Windows 10 thing only. I even tried a repair install for Edge through its “All installed apps” entry and that didn’t help, either.  Indeed, a version check on the 122.0.2365.92 version comes back to report “all’s well”:

Note Added March 26: Gone!

Edge is still running as version 122.0.2365.92. But Winget is no longer reporting that it needs to upgrade it to 122.0.2635.106. Indeed, Winget show Microsoft.Edge now reports the latter as the current version, in need of no upgrade at all. Thanks Demetrius and team: problem solved!

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NotePad Gets Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

I already know better, but couldn’t help but get excited yesterday. I read the “Spellcheck in Notepad…” MS announcement with care.  TLDR version: “Notepad gets gradual spellcheck rollout in the Canary Channel.” Fingers crossed, I checked Notepad settings. I hoped I might snap my unbroken streak and would see the new stuff.

You can see what this  feature looks like in the lead in graphic, where the spellchecker recognizes “lectrons” as a misspelling of “electrons” (that graphic comes straight from the MS announcement).

Left Behind, as NotePad Gets
Gradual Spellcheck Rollout

If you are included in the first batch of spellcheck and auto-correct endowed Notepad users, you’ll find those controls in Notepad settings. They occur beneath the “Opening Notepad” heading. The new heading reads “Spelling” and includes two toggles: first, “Spell check,” and second “Autocorrect.” By default ,Notepad turns both off when you edit a file whose type indicates some kind of markup or programming language is in use. Thus,  it might be something like .html, .xml. .py, .cs, .cpp,  .java, or .js  (IDs for the most frequently-occurring such file extensions).

Now my question is: how long do I have to wait to gain entry into the cohort that’s testing these capabilities? We’ll see. In a further triumph of hope over experience, I just checked my second Canary Channel test PC (it’s downloading and updating Notepad right now via the MS Store . . .).  No dice there, either. Stay tuned: I’m still waiting . . .

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So Long Syba DUAL mSATA

I guess it was inevitable. I purchased a Syba Dual mSATA SSD adapter (model SD-ADA40107) back in 2015 or thereabouts. Yesterday, I plugged it into multiple PCs and laptops inside a USB 3.0 SATA drive caddy and … nothing doing. It’s resisted all resuscitation attempts, including the maker’s own hardware utility, as shown in the lead-in graphic. Thus, I must say “So long, SYBA Dual mSATA” and consign it to my Goodwill safe e-waste disposal bag. It was nice while it lasted.

After So Long Syba DUAL mSATA, Then What?

I’ve had trouble with this and other similar devices. It cost perhaps US$45 when I bought it back when, so it’s no great loss. The real question is: do I buy more hardware to house those still-usable Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB SSDs the now-failed adapter houses? I can now buy the same Sabrent USB 3.0 mSATA enclosure that used to cost US$30 or more for about $15. That’s pretty cheap.

“Why bother?” you ask. Because even an mSATA SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure is still 8 or more time faster than an equivalent flash drive or a conventional HDD. But because I have 3 of them already (250, 500 and 1000 MB in size) it may be a simple case of overkill. I’ll have to ponder the state of the exchequer and think about this for a while. As I’m thinking you can see what CystalDiskMark says about the 500 MiB mSATA device I just plugged in:

So Long Syba DUAL mSATA.850-500

This is still 4-8X faster than UFDs or HDDs (same port, same PC).

As I do, I’ll bid adieu to the non-functional Syba adapter. It was a useful bit of hardware. I’ve still got another one (also with 2x250GB Samsung EVO SSDs) ensconced in a drive caddy where it serves as my M: drive on the production PC. I guess I should start planning to replace that, too. It’s just a matter of time…

 

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24H2 Versions Gain Storage Pool Delete

Once upon a time Storage Pools in Windows fell under Control Panel’s sway. Bit by bit, control over Storage Spaces has been moving from Control Panel into Settings. With Build 26080 (Canary channel) Windows 11 24H2 versions gain Storage Pool delete capability in Settings as well. I learned this today, thanks to an article in WindowsLatest by Abishek Mishra. Note: this article also provided the source for the lead-in graphic, as I did not have time to set up a NAS to build a local storage pool myself.

Reflecting on 24H2 Versions Gain
Storage Pool Delete

There’s been a slow but inexorable switchover from Control Panel (and its CPL executables) to the Settings app since it first appeared in Windows 8 in February 2012 (Technical Preview). That’s been underway for over a decade now, and the process is not yet done. But each little step away from CP toward Settings marks incremental progress toward a new way to control and manage Windows.

This has me wondering: will I live long enough to see that switchover complete? My best guess is that the switchover is somewhere between half and two-thirds accomplished. There are still around 20 CPL executables in Windows 11, of which most still run. Thus, MS still has work to do to make the switchover complete. I’ll keep watching, and keep reporting, as this process grinds its way along. Stay tuned!

Warning: AskWoody Item Coming Soon!

I’ve actually been working on a series of stories for the AskWoody newsletters to look at the ongoing move from Control Panel to Settings. I am completing a piece on Settings that shows where CP still comes into play. I’ll follow that up with a complete listing of all CPLs still present in Windows 11, and also indicate which ones lead back into Settings and which ones remain necessary and outside that umbrella.

It’s fascinating stuff, trying to tease the details out of an OS as big and complex as an average Windows 11 instance. Fun fact: a typical Windows install will have a Settings tree (a map of all the functions and capabilities it provides) of between 1800 and 2000 nodes. That’s big, and it changes to reflect what’s plugged in at any given moment, and moves around as the OS gets updated. It’s both fascinating and mind-boggling at the same time…

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Widget Screenshot Users, Beware

Wow! Did I get an ugly surprise in the mail yesterday. I got two demand letters from a Canadian image rights company, seeking payment of US$1,334 for use of two thumbnails in a screen capture I made. Where and how did this happen? I was reporting about the introduction of the Windows News Bar (Beta) app, before the whole news and weather widget stuff rolled onto the Windows taskbar. That’s why I admonish fellow bloggers and Web content developers: “Widget screenshot users, beware!”

Ouching into Widget Screenshot Users Beware

The actual images the claimant asserts I’m using without a license are thumbnails. They measure 78×41 pixels. They’re included as an illustration of what the news bar looked like on the Windows desktop at the time (after I downloaded and installed the app).

Of course, news and weather info is now available from the taskbar. It comes courtesy of the so-called “Widgets” icon there, where the popped-up window that clicking on it produces is simply called Widgets. It shows both captions and images because it has more pixels to work with. This original design let users pick whether to see captions or images (images by default). Because I screen-capped two of their clients’ images on March 30, 2020, I must pay . . .  says the claimant.

Fair Use to the Rescue

“Not so fast,” is my response. I replied in writing  as follows:

  •  I make no money from my website
  • I was reporting news about a new MS Store app (News Bar Beta)
  • I used the image strip (5 or 6 of them altogether, if memory serves) purely to show what the app looked like, and made no reference to individual images
  • I reproduced the strip as thumbnails only, heavily cropped
  • I do not sell or license images to any third parties, and I make no money from the site, so it can’t impose commercial losses on the copyright holders

These are all part of the arguments through which “fair use” is proven in the US. I think I’m on solid ground, but it’s pretty disturbing nonetheless. Going forward, I’ll look more closely at exactly what’s in my screencaps. I’d advise you to do likewise for anything that goes online as well. Better to avoid trouble than to have to (de)fend it off.

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