Category Archives: Recent Activity

VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

Suddenly, the usual login prompt from my Credit Union, where my wife and I both bank, has become inaccessible on my local network. No PC, no browser, no nothing will open the login URL. Errors proliferate like mushrooms after the rain instead. What gives?

Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn't.
VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue. VPN login works, other access doesn’t.

I’ve been working in and around IP networks professionally since 1988, and with IP networks since 1979. I’ve seen many weird things, and now have another to add to that list. From my LAN right now, no PCs can login to our credit union on the web. Nobody, that is, unless I go through a VPN link. Otherwise, when we (my wife and I bank together) try to access the login page, a raft of error messages presents. Only the VPN works around weird credit union access issue, which throws up beacoup HTTP error codes. (Explanatory text verbatim from Wikipedia.):

400  Bad Request: The server cannot or will not process the request due to an apparent client error (e.g., malformed request syntax, size too large, invalid request message framing, or deceptive request routing).
401  Unauthorized: Similar to 403 Forbidden, but specifically for use when authentication is required and has failed or has not yet been provided.
403  Forbidden: The request contained valid data and was understood by the server, but the server is refusing action.
404  Not Found: The requested resource could not be found [(aka “File not found/Page not found”)].
501 Not Implemented: Server either does not recognize the request method, or it lacks the ability to fulfill the request.
502 Bad Gateway: The server was acting as a gateway or proxy and received an invalid response from the upstream server

How VPN Works Around Weird Credit Union Access Issue

I can only assume that the address resolution for the specific login URL is somehow malformed or invalid. Changing DNS server assignments at the Windows 10 clients (in the TCP v4 Interface properties) does not help. When I switch to VPN, though, that bypasses the local DNS infrastructure. That connection uses the VPN provider’s DNS infrastructure instead. Then, we have no problems accessing the bank URL.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. I can’t remember the login credentials for the Spectrum device that acts as a Wi-Fi AP and router at the network boundary. Thus, I can’t check the DNS situation on that device, which is where DHCP tells all my Windows 10 machines to get their DNS information from. I’ve got a call into Spectrum to see if they can help me break into my router without having to do a factory reset. In the meantime, we’re using the VPN to access the credit union stuff, and plain-vanilla networking for everything else. It’s strange and unfathomable, but at least there’s a workaround.

For Want of a Nail…

Last night, I drove to the nearby Spectrum outlet and swapped my Technicolor cable modem/VoIP device for an identical replacement unit. The theory was that something about this device was behind the issue. It was sheer hell trying to get back online because Spectrum’s activation drill requires providing account, password, and other identity characteristics. I keep all that stuff in Norton Password Vault, and I couldn’t get access to that info through my iPhone nor did I have another path onto the Internet to grab the necessary data. I eventually had to spend another 45 minutes on the phone with tech support as they FINALLY activated our Internet service, TV, and VoIP phone. Reminded me too much of Catch-22 “How can you see you’ve got flies in your eyes when you’ve got flies in your eyes?” Last night, I couldn’t see much of anything for far too long!

Because our son attends school online, doing without Internet is impossible. Thus, I ordered a 5G hotspot from Verizon last night, so we have a medium performing fallback. They tell me the hotspot I ordered delivers about 200 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream in our neighborhood. I’ll be finding out — and making sure the fallback works — when it shows up via USPS early next week. Sigh.

Router Reset Solves Resolution Hiccup [Added 1 Day Later]

With a little more time to think about what could cause my problem, I formulated a hypothesis about the cause — and a likely fix — for my troubles. All nodes on my LAN had an issue with that one specific URL. But neither the site operator nor my ISP could replicate that problem. Thus it had to be on the boundary between my LAN and the ISP’s aggregation network. That means only one possible culprit: the Spectrum router. It sits at my network boundary. It also provides DHCP to the nodes on the LAN and acts as the DNS server for all internal nodes.

“Aha” I thought, “I bet resetting the router will fix this issue because it reloads — or repopulates, rather — the DNS cache.” I was right. After powering off the router, letting it sit for a minute or two, then powering it back on, our name resolution issue was gone. Glad to have it fixed because it was deucedly inconvenient without credit union account access. Ultimately, it was the “VPN trick” that led me to the solution. Sigh again.

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Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

Here’s an interesting topic for Windows 10 power users and admins. As stated in this post’s title, there are plusses and minuses regarding Intel’s new — and frequently updated — DCH drivers. Intel graphics drivers show up on laptops with Intel CPUs. That’s simply because a graphics component is built into most such processors, particularly mobile ones. Indeed, some laptops have additional external (usually PCIe-attached) GPUs. But any of those with Intel CPUs can switch back and forth between the on-chip GPU and that external GPU . Thus it’s important to ponder Intel laptop graphics driver upgrade pros cons — particularly when choosing and upgrading drivers.

Understanding DCH Helps Unravel Intel Laptop Graphics Driver Upgrade Pros Cons

DCH stands for Declarative Componentized Hardware supported apps. This is the new, forward-looking architecture for Windows Drivers. It’s explained in a Microsoft Docs article entitled DCH Design Principles and Best Practices. There we find an explanation for each of the acronym’s letters (I quote this material verbatim):

  • Declarative (D): Install the driver by using only declarative INF directives. Don’t include co-installers or RegisterDll functions.
  • Componentized (C): Edition-specific, OEM-specific, and optional customizations to the driver are separate from the base driver package. As a result, the base driver, which provides only core device functionality, can be targeted, flighted, and serviced independently from the customizations.
  • Hardware Support App (H): Any user interface (UI) component associated with a Windows Driver must be packaged as a Hardware Support App (HSA) or preinstalled on the OEM device. An HSA is an optional device-specific app that’s paired with a driver. The application can be a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) or Desktop Bridge app. You must distribute and update an HSA through the Microsoft Store. For details, see Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for driver developers and Hardware Support App (HSA): Steps for app developers.

Componentization is Good!

To me, the componentized piece makes the DCH driver both interesting and relevant to laptop owners. Basically, it means base driver packages from the device maker are OK — Intel, in this case. That’s because customizations from an OEM or laptop maker can slipstream onto the base level driver. And it won’t affect the behavior or reliability of the graphics circuitry. Especially for those who use their laptops for gaming (where drivers matter quite a lot, and change pretty frequently) this is good news.

Case in Point: Intel’s November 6 igfx_win10_100.8935.exe Driver Release

Late last week, Intel dropped the afore-mentioned new DCH drivers release. The release package is available at Intel Graphics – Windows 10 DCH Drivers web page. This new release covers Windows 10 versions 1709 through 20H2. It also comes in both ZIP (direct access to driver files and components) and .exe (self-installing formats). Those who use the Intel Driver & Support Assistant are already familiar with the .exe versions of the company’s drivers, because those are this tool’s default versions. If you look at the Release Notes for this …8935 version you’ll see that all of the key issues fixed call out computer games (Crysis Remastered, PGA Tour 2K21, Doom Eternal, World of Warcraft, Shadowlands, Red Redemption 2, and so forth). Hence, my earlier point about gamers as primary beneficiaries for such updates.

Other admins or owners with Intel GPU circuitry on their laptops can relax about updating laptop drivers on major-branch laptops (Dell, Lenovo, HP, and so forth). Why? Because the DCH architecture means that Intel’s base level driver is more or less guaranteed to “play nice” with any such customizations as the OEM/mfgr may add for its own laptops. In the past, I’d relied on the various vendor update services (e.g. Dell SupportAssist, Lenovo Vantage, HP Support Assistant, and so forth) as the sole source for laptop graphics drivers.

I’ve been experimenting with using Intel DHC drivers plus the occasional OEM/mfgr graphic driver on four Lenovo PCs for the past six months now. My experience has been almost completely positive, with only one install issue on a Lenovo X380 Yoga last month, easily remedied by a manual install after downloading the driver file from the Lenovo Support pages.

DCH Graphics Drivers: Worth Trying Out

Looks like DCH Intel graphics drivers are pretty safe, and ready for day-to-day laptop use. Don’t take my word for it, though. Conduct your own experiments on test machines (as I did) and see how things go. I’m reasonably certain of positive results. If not, I hope you’ll tell me all about it (comment on this post). Cheers!

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{WED} Check Out MS News Bar Beta

MS has released a new news app through the Microsoft Store. Those interested in a new look for the MS newsfeed will want to check out MS News Bar Beta release. It strikes me as an improvement over the default MSN news pages that come up in Edge. There’s also considerably more control over how (and where) this News Bar appears on your desktop, too. And it can be dismissed instantly with a click on its minimization control when you want to get it out of the way. My opinion: the News Bar is worth downloading and playing around with. It’s a useful tool during this current news-hungry pandemic WFH situation we now live in. Here’s a look at its Appearance pane, from the app’s Settings controls:

Check Out MS News Bar Beta.appearance

The News Bar’s Settings are simple and straightforward. Took me a couple of minutes to work through them, and decide what I liked.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Download from Store to Check Out MS News Bar Beta

The app is readily available as a free download from the Microsoft Store. Or visit the Store, and search on “News Bar Beta.” It will pop right up. The download is just over 75 MB in size, and takes only a short while to download and install. As the preceding screen cap illlustrates, its controls are both simple and intuitive. After messing about a little while, I chose to position the News Bar at the top of my Primary (#1) Display in Image format. Here’s what a snippet of that looks like, from the left-hand-side of the screen. (It’s about 1/3 of the total display width, but I didn’t want to shrink the thumbnails down TOO much for reproduction here):

Check Out MS News Bar Beta.images

You can switch between text and images views for newsfeed stories to see a representative photo (image) or a brief description (text).
[Click image for full-sized view.]

[Note:] Thanks to Nayan at WinCentral for bringing this new (beta) app to my attention in his post “Microsoft bringing ‘Windows News Bar’ to Windows 10 as the on-desktop news source.”

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{WED} Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs

Here’s another item under the “I didn’t know you could that in Windows 10” heading. This time, it’s a series of shortcut commands to access the vast majority of panes within the Settings UWP app. That’s right: if you open the Run Box, Winkey R directly accesses settings pages using URIs. Thus, for example simply typing ms-settings: in the run box opens the home page for the settings app. Things in this realm are a little tricky though, because not all of these strings are predictable. Thus, for example ms-settings:network launches the Network & Internet home pane. But neither ms-settings:system nor ms-settings:devices gets you past the home page for Windows Settings. This is more of a recipe or incantation, then, than it is a predictable use of obvious strings. What’s a power user or admin to do?

Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs.nodevices

Looks like a reasonable guess, but doesn’t work as you expect (you get the Home page shown at the top of this story, instead of the Devices pane).

Details for Winkey R Directly Accesses Settings Pages Using URIs

There’s a “magic reference” available in Microsoft DOCs that provides the necessary collection of usable strings. They’re organized by category, alphabetized (Accounts, Apps, Cortana, Devices, and so forth). Find them in a subsection of a document entitled Launching, resuming and background tasks named Launch the Windows Settings app. I forbear from reproducing the full list of entries you can find in this document, because there are over 200 strings that start with ms-settings: that you can use in the Run box to produce any of a plethora of Settings panes and pages.

Instead, I suggest you bookmark the link to the Launch the Windows Settings app page, and spend some time getting to know its contents. There’s a lot of useful stuff in there, so your investment of time and in play/experimentation should be amply rewarded. Good stuff, in fact!

[Note:] Once again, thanks to Sergey Tkachenko for posting an item on this topic at WinAero.com. It’s entitled MS-Settings Page List of URI Shortcuts in Windows 10. Most of it recites the strings that work in the Winkey-R/Run box environment. As you chew it over, I hope you’ll see why I pointed to the master reference at MS DOCs instead. Sigh.

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Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter

I’m a big fan of the long-deprecated Windows Gadgets, which date back to the Vista era. Thanks to excellent work from Helmut Buhler (@8GadgetPack on Twitter) you can download his 8GadgetPack quickly and easily. This morning, however, I noticed that the Network Meter gadget was not reporting on network activity. Closer inspection showed two different network adapters queued up: one for outbound traffic, one for inbound. I knew this had to be wrong, because I’ve got an RJ-45 cable plugged into only one of the two GbE interfaces on my production PC. “But which one is active?” I asked myself. And that’s how I needed to identify active Win10 network adapter on my PC, to put the gadget back to work. Here’s what I saw in Network Monitor, to begin with:

Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter.netmon-nada

With no traces to indicate network activity, despite an assigned IP address, I knew Network Meter was checking the wrong NIC.

Which Tools Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter?

Turns out you have a lot of choices to identify the active network adapter on a Windows 10 PC. I found 4 methods very quickly, and all agreed that the Intel I211 adapter was handling my active Ethernet connection. Here’s a snippet of what I saw in Settings → Network & Internet → View your network properties. Or, you can right-click the network icon in the notification bar, and select Open Network & Internet settings as an alternate entry point.

Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter.settings

Alas, one must scan to the bottom of this verbose collection of info to see “Connected to Internet,” which is what I was looking for.

This showed me that of the two NICs present on this motherboard — an Intel I211 GbE and an Intel I219V — the I211 was the active interface. But plenty of other method presented to me to provide this information, including:
1. NirSoft’s AdapterWatch tool, which presents the data in a horizontal table, and makes status obvious with an Operational Status value of “Operational” for the I211 and “Non Operational” for the I219V (not to mention the presence of IPv4 addresses for the active one, and none for the other).
2. The PowerShell cmdlet get-NetAdapter showed me everything I needed to know in compact, easy-to-read form.
3. Gabe Topala’s SIW Home (a subscription favorite for which I’ve been paying $49 a year for 10 instances for over a decade now) shows the I211 as “Connected” and the I219V as “Disconnected.”

Of these other methods, I’ll probably use the PowerShell get-NetAdapter method going forward should I find myself in this boat again. I can launch PS7 using the Winkey-X key sequence, and type the cmdlet name lickety-split. Here’s what it shows me:

Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter.ps7-getnetadap

Quick to run, easy to read, immediate access to the relevant status (“Up”). Works for me!
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Acting on the Information in Network Monitor

With the information that the I211 was connected to the Internet, I jumped into the Network Monitor’s controls and made sure it was selected under the “For Speed” and “For Internal IP Address” fields. I also turned off auto-detect and selected “Wired Network” as my Network Type. Immediately afterward, the gadget started working again, like so:

Identify Active Win10 Network Adapter.netmon-working

OK then: that’s what I’m after. Active download (yellow) and upload (green) traces on the timeline, and count values below.

Fixed!

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When Driver MIA After Upgrade Try Pick from a list…

My Lenovo X380 Yoga constantly presents me with the same problem after each Feature Upgrade. And because that PC is hooked into the Fast ring for Insider Previews, that means it happens once every week or two. Instead of a working Synaptics WBDI-SGX fingerprint reader. I get a yellow exclamation point in Device Manager for that item. Further detail indicates it was unable to load the device driver properly. After long and repeated experience with this error, I’ve learned that the following “click sequence” will set things right. First, I right-click into Update drivers → Browse my computer for drivers → Let me pick from a list of available drivers… Only one driver shows up as a result, and it’s the very one I need. That why I say when driver MIA after upgrade try Pick from a list… Here’s what that looks like:
When Driver MIA After Upgrade Try 'Pick from a list...'

Click the desired entry to highlight, then click Next to install that driver. When there’s only one entry, there’s only one possible item to choose, too.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

If When Driver MIA After Upgrade Try Pick from a list… Doesn’t work

Of course, it’s not always this easy to fix an MIA driver following a feature upgrade. That’s why it’s a good idea to use DISM to export your current (presumably working) set of Windows 10 drivers before a major upgrade. My good friend and Win10.Guru partner Kari the Finn explains all this in a TenForums tutorial. It’s entitled DISM — Add or Remove Drivers on an Offline Image, and addresses the important stuff in Step Two: Get drivers: Export. That might do the trick, as long as you (or Windows) can recognize the right sub-folder to search for the good stuff.

On a Lenovo laptop, you can also grab drivers from their Support pages . Shoot! Their Vantage app may be able to find and install the missing item for you, using its System Update function. Or you can search for the driver manually. This takes me to a Fingerprint reader page, where I see the Synaptics WBDI device that I need.

When Driver MIA After Upgrade Try 'Pick from a list...'

If all else fails, I can always grab the driver from the Lenovo download pages.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

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{WED} Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout

Here’s another factoid that falls under the heading of “I didn’t know Windows 10 could do that.” In this case, the particular widget in question is Power Options (Control Panel). The right PowerShell command or its equivalent Registry tweak makes an NVMe item appear. Actually, this item occurs under the Hard Disk entry. Its full name is Primary NVMe Idle Timeout (see below). In fact, it defines an idle timeout value for an NVMe SSD in the boot/system role.  Hence my post title: Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout. Here’s how it looks:

Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout.nvme-info

Until you enable this attribute (PowerShell) or set the right RegKey value, you won’t see this in Power Options.

In case you didn’t already know, NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. Usually, it’s a kind of flash memory that might be a solid state disk (SSD), a PCIe add-in card, an M.2 card, or something similar. NMVe is incredibly popular because it’s fast and increasingly affordable. Nearly all of my newer systems boot from an NVMe drive. Lots of vendors make NVMe drives. Right now, my systems include such drives from Samsung, LiteOn and Toshiba.

Make Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout

In fact, to see this entry in Power Options, you must reverse Windows 10’s default setting. Thus, the operative part of the command string reads -ATTRIB-HIDE. The minus sign does the magic that makes the entry appear. You can cut and paste the whole string (shown below)  into PowerShell. For illlustration, it’s also shown in the screencap that follows the command-line text input.

powercfg -attributes SUB_DISK D639518A-E56D-4345-8AF2-B9F32FB26109 -ATTRIB_HIDE

Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout.ps

Entering the command gives zero feedback, but the change shows up immediately in Power Options.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

 The following command string makes this NVMe entry invisible in Power Options:

powercfg -attributes SUB_DISK D639518A-E56D-4345-8AF2-B9F32FB26109 +ATTRIB_HIDE

Of course, the only difference is the plus sign in the final command element. The preceding value is a GUID for this particular Power Options setting.

Do It in the Registry, If You Prefer

The name of the corresponding registry key is, in fact, the afore-cited GUID. The highlighted Attributes value controls if the NVMe item is visible in Power Options. Here again, a value of 0 makes the option visible; 1 makes it disappear. String alert! The fully-qualified registry key name is:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings\0012ee47-9041-4b5d-9b77-535fba8b1442\d639518a-e56d-4345-8af2-b9f32fb26109

Just for the record, HKLM is a common abbreviation for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. For better visualization, here’s a screencap of all that good stuff:

Windows 10 Power Options Include NVMe Idle Timeout.regedit

The complete registry location occurs just below the command menu line, and includes two (2) GUIDs in its path.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Once again, a value of zero (0) for Attributes means the NVME timeout item shows up in Power Options. A value of one (1) means it’s hidden.

Does NVMe Idle Timeout Really Matter?

Looking at the default value (200 ms), I’m inclined to think not. That’s so fast that altering the value won’t affect the PC much (or at all). But it’s always interesting to learn something new about Windows 10. There’s a lot more going on in general, and in Power Options, than one might think. And who knows? Someday, this tidbit may come in handy.

[Note] Thanks, Sergey Tkachenko/WinAero.com for covering this topic. He posted on this topic sometime in the last 24 hours. (Alas, his posts aren’t dated.) Check it out: it’s entitled Add Primary NVME Idle Timeout to Power Options in Windows 10. Bolshaya spaciba, Sergey!

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{WED} Microsoft Technet Gallery Retires June 2020

Here’s an interesting news item. On March 9, Robert Outlaw, Lead Program Manager, Docs.Developer Experience posted the immanent retirement of the Microsoft Technet Gallery. This is a long-time “public space” in the Microsoft DOCs web pages. Here, Microsoft MVPs, developers and community members have made a collection of over 25,000 PowerShell scripts for all and sundry server and desktop management tasks. But according to Mr. Outlaw, the Microsoft Technet Gallery retires June 2020. As the snippet at the head of this story says, the exact date for retirement is still TBD.

Technet Gallery Retires June 2020
Technet Gallery retirement post header info

[Click here for full-sized view.]

If Microsoft Technet Gallery Retires June 2020, Then What?

Having just delved into a Wayback Machine site snapshot from March 16, 2020, I see that the site is HEAVILY archived there. In fact, I couldn’t find a single page that wasn’t already present in that online archive. Interestingly, getting to the leaf (script) level in the Technet Gallery is like time travel. That’s because you’ll go back to the latest update to the script page itself when you navigate that far in the gallery. Thus, for an AD script named List all groups or users in an OU, I found myself back to October 2015.Under Networking, a NAT Detection script links to a September 2015 page.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. It is: while you may not be able to access the Technet Gallery pages live through Microsoft Docs come June 2020, that’s not really a problem. You’ll still be able to get to the archive through the Wayback machine. As far as I can tell, what’s available there is a full, faithful and complete copy of the whole shebang. Simply change your favorite for this valuable scripting resource to the last, best and final Wayback Machine snapshot taken just before MS pulls the plug. That way, you’ll retain access to its contents. When MS announces that date, I’ll provide a link to that ultimate snapshot as an addendum to this blog post.

Stay tuned!

[Note:] Here’s a shout out to Martin Brinkmann at ghacks.net. His story Microsoft announces retirement of the TechNet Gallery (and all its scripts) clued me into this upcoming retirement. Thanks, Martin: immer nochmals “Vielen Dank!”

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{WED} Warning! Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD

I’ve seen it before, and I’ll probably see it again. I just updated my production desktop to the latest GeForce driver, and it threw a BSOD. It’s one of the “mystery codes,” too: SYSTEM_EXCEPTION_THREAD_NOT_HANDLED. But when I say that the latest GeForce 442.59 may cause BSOD I already know what’s causing it. There’s a bug in the driver installer (not the driver) that causes a crash when it finishes the install. Thus, the driver itself is properly installed and working, as this GeForce snippet clearly shows:

Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD.driver-ok

This snippet from GeForce Experience shows the latest driver version — 442.59 — is properly installed and working. Also shows yesterday’s date.

If Latest GeForce 442.59 May Cause BSOD, So What?

Yeah, it’s kind of disturbing — upsetting, even — to see your PC go down in flames with a BSOD. But as BSOD’s go, this one’s fairly benign. It would’ve bothered me a lot more if I hadn’t seen a run of these same BSODs in 2018 and 2019, right at the end of the GeForce driver install. Thus, I post this blog as a public service to warn others who may be keeping their GeForce drivers up-to-date. Before you do the install, close all open applications and save your work. If you’re seriously concerned, make an image backup just before running the driver install. But since the net result is a new and working driver, I’m inclined simply to say “Here they go again.” And of course, to let my readers know that they too may fall prey to this gotcha.

OTOH, you could decide to skip this update and wait and see if the next one fails to provoke a BSOD. I’m happy to keep plugging away at this stuff, and will update this blog when the next driver comes out. If it throws another BSOD I’ll let you know. If it doesn’t, ditto. Stay tuned!

[Note added 3/19/2020, afternoon] I just installed version 442.74 on my production PC. It got all the way through the install without a glitch, and asked me if I wanted to reboot. I was otherwise engaged so I did not. Just rebooted a minute or two ago, and everything concluded successfully. One can hope it’s because the installer issue — whatever it may have been — is fixed, or no longer an issue. Done!

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{WED} Why Is Win7 Marketshare 25%?

It’s been about six weeks now since Windows 7 hit end-of-life (EOL). Yet NetMarketShare still shows it with over 25% on active desktops. Statcounter shows it at over 30%. Why is Win7 Marketshare ~25% or higher? Who’s running the old OS? I have my suspicions, and would like to share them.

Win7 Marketshare 25%.nms-graph

Despite 6 weeks since EOL, around a quarter of all Windows OS users under NetMarketShare’s purview at still running Windows 7. Who and why are the questions I want answered.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Just for the record, the US Government’s tracking site — analytics.usa.gov — shows a lower share of 15.4%. (NetMarketShare’s exact number is 25.2%, and Statcounter’s is 30.57%.) This already suggests that some continuing Windows 7 use occurs on PCs that don’t access US Government websites. In turn, this tells me that it’s likely that 40% of continuing Windows 7 users are outside the USA, perhaps even outside North America.

If Win7 Marketshare 25%, Who’s Using It and Why?

No matter what the real number is, I believe it may be somewhat bigger than any of the numbers already presented. A certain number of Windows 7 systems are situated in kiosks and in embedded situations. These are unlikely to access the Internet. That means they wouldn’t show up in any of the monitoring sites already cited. Thus, it’s important to understand that the numbers are probably at least 1-2% low. In fact, they may be as much as 5% low, depending on how many “quiet” Windows 7 PCs are out there.

User Classes Include Individuals, SMBs and Governments

As far as visible numbers go, my guess is that they’re split pretty evenly between SMB users and private individuals. My gut feeling is that enterprises have mostly (90% or better) migrated already. A a significant number of government (local, state, and federal/country) agencies or departments are paying for extended security updates, too. Essentially, they’re buying time while they get onto the migration path. News stories suggest the US Government is much less involved in this program than they were during the XP to Windows 7 transition. Then, the US DoD bought as many as 2 million seats worth of such support. That said, I’ve seen news that report the German Government is spending ~800K Euros for 33,000 seats’ worth of Windows 7 extended support. Worldwide, it’s likely that the number of paid seats (which MS does not publicly disclose) is in the 1-2 million range.

For private individuals, numerous factors explain die-hard Windows 7 use. These include laziness, inertia, and unwillingness or inability to spend on upgrades. Also, there could be a perceived lack of need to upgrade. (This might reflect an imperfect understanding of growing levels of security threats, or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” at work.) SMBs share all these reasons, too. They may also be bound by continued use of legacy applications (especially custom- or in-house-built code). These often won’t or can’t be upgraded to Windows 10 affordably or easily.

How Long Will Win7 Usage Stay High?

I am surprised that this number remains so large. I wonder how long it will take for that number to erode further. I’m especially keen to see when it might go below the 10% range. This generally indicates a mostly moribund Windows OS (look at Windows 8.1’s relatively tiny 3.48% figure). It should be an interesting phenomenon to watch. Thus, I’ll report back in on this from time to time (probably at 3-6 month intervals).

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