Category Archives: Recent Activity

Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS

Since last Friday (April 26) I’ve been working with the Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 laptop. It’s also called a Yoga Pro 9i. I’m a little mystified by the “i” that comes and goes for this device name. If you look at the lead-in graphic you can see the User Guide calls it “Pro 9i” while Lenovo Vantage calls it “Pro 9.” It’s an early AI PC from Lenovo, which means it has a Copilot key and a built-in AI processor, aka NPU (Neural Processing Unit). As I’m now learning, pondering AI PCs means TOPS (trillions of AI or “tera” operations per second) matter — a lot!

If Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS Matters, What’s the 9(i) Got?

According to Intel Ark the name of the NPU integrated into the Intel Ultra Core i9 185H CPU is “Intel AI boost.” Otherwise, there’s precious little info available about its capabilities except for the frameworks it support. For the record, those are Intel’s own Open VINO, WindowsML, DirectML and OMNX RT.

I had to turn to Copilot to get more information about the 185H NPU. Here’s what it told me:

Intel’s Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” offers an AI Boost NPU with 10 TOPS

Since I’ve learned to verify whatever Copilot tells me, I found this stat verified at Tom’s Hardware in an April 9 story. When I asked Copilot directly “What’s the TOPS rating for the AI Boost NPU in the Intel i9 185H?” it came back with a higher number that I couldn’t verify. Here’s what it said:

The Intel Core Ultra 9 185H processor features an AI Boost NPU that can perform approximately 34 trillion operations per second, which translates to 34 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second)12.

The second source it cites may explain this apparent discrepancy, though: the 10 TOPS is what the NPU itself contributes. But Arc and NVIDIA GPUs can also support the same AI frameworks mentioned above, and can thus add to a unit’s overall TOPS rating.

Put this into more Copilot context that asks if it itself can use NPU resources:

Microsoft Copilot is now set to run locally on AI PCs with at least 40 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) of NPU (Neural Processing Unit) performance.

Given that the Yoga 9(i) comes close to that number, I’m still wondering if it qualifies or not. So far, I can’t find any details that lead me definitively to an unequivocal “Yes” or “No.” Sigh.

The Next Generation Gets It, For Sure?

Another Tom’s story, also dated April 9, says the next “Lunar Lake” generation will include an NPU rated at 45 TOPS. Further it also asserts that PCs with such chips will offer 100+ TOPS overall when they become available. AMD likewise says it will play in that same ballpark, as will the Snapdragon X Elite chips.

I’m still unsure as to whether or not my current review unit — that is, the Lenovo Yoga 9(i) has enough AI oomph to run Copilot workloads locally. I’ll keep banging away at this, though. Eventually, I’ll figure it out. At this point, I’m still at the start of the learning curve…

Rereading Tom’s Hardware I See This…

The Tom’s Copilot Locally story relies mostly on quotes from Intel to set things up — namely, from Todd Lewellen, VP of Intel Client Computing Group. He says:

“[..]And as we go to that next gen, it’s just going to enable us to run more things locally, just like they will run Copilot with more elements of Copilot running locally on the client. That may not mean that everything in Copilot is running local, but you’ll get a lot of key capabilities that will show up running on the NPU.”

This seems pretty clear that the current generation — including the Core Ultra i9 185H in the Lenovo Pro 9i  — does NOT fall under this umbrella. That said, I think it leaves open whether or not it will make any difference for other AI workloads. Should be interesting to get to the bottom of this!

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IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities

OK, then.  I had to try it again after Windows 11 Insider Preview, Beta Channel, went to Build 22635.3566. DISM … /analyzecomponentstore was showing what’s become a “typical” 13 reclaimable packages that really weren’t there. (Note: I blogged about this back on April 4 for an earlier such build.) Last time, an in-place repair install (IPRI) fixed the issue. So I tried again, but observed that IPRI spawns desktop oddities even as it fixes the bogus reclaimables issue. That required some cleanup. Sigh: let me explain…

What IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities Means

After the initial reboot following the IPRI, the taskbar and its icons failed to appear at the bottom of the display. That meant I had to open Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Esc did the trick), click on Run task, then type explorer.exe into the input box. That set my desktop mostly back to rights, with icons on taskbar in their usual places and positions.

But there was one more thing: icon spacing on my desktop was totally bizarre. I only allow 7 items on my desktop as a matter of routine, mostly repair stuff and default stuff — e.g. Recycle Bin and the two desktop.ini items that show up because of my folder settings choices. But icons were spaced about 2″ apart horizontally and vertically. Ultimately, I resorted to WinAero Tweaker to establish minimum horizontal and vertical spacing between icons (32 pixels’ worth, as it happens). And BTW, I had to reboot to get those settings to “take.”

All’s Well That Ends Well

I can’t remember even niggling issues at the desktop in the wake of an IPRI before this matter of the bogus reclaimables started showing up in the Beta Channel releases about two months ago. But since then, I’ve sometimes had to choose between cleaning those bogus items out and a working desktop. Because the former doesn’t really seem to cause any problems, while the latter is definitely a productivity buster, it’s not a hard choice to make.

But gosh, I’m still glad when I can clean up a mess AND get to a working desktop. I’d love to know what’s causing this to occur, and why the number of bogus reclaimables has so far been “Lucky 13.” But such minor mysteries are part of the allure when one lives in Windows-World. Cheers!

IPRI Spawns Desktop Oddities.nobogus

Number of reclaimable packages: 0! And a working desktop, too… [Double-click image to display in own window.]

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Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 Intake

When I got home from a visit to a dental lab around lunchtime on Friday, the Boss asked “Were you expecting a package?” I’d asked Lenovo to send me a Yoga Pro 9 earlier that week, so my answer was a tentative “Maybe…” And sure enough, that’s what it was. Over the weekend, I had time to get through all steps in the Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 intake process. It proved more interesting — and educational — than I expected…

What I Got for Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 Intake

There were some interesting surprises in what showed up. Basics of the unit’s configuration include:

  • Intel Core Ultra 9 185H (Meteor Lake/13th Gen+)
  • 32 GB LPDDR5x-7467 (soldered)
  • Hynix 1TiB NVMe SSD PCIe x4
  • 16″ Lenovo LEN8BAI Monitor 3200×2000 resolution monitor
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 network adapter
  • Intel AI Boost NPU & Copilot key

There’s more, but I’ll get to some of that in the next section. The main reason I requested a short loan of this formidable PC was for access to a machine with NPU and Copilot key to take them for a spin. Looks like this unit retails for around US$2,100 at the Lenovo Store.

What I  Learned During the Intake Process

TLDR answer: LOTS of things. I’ll elaborate by noting first that the unit came with Windows 11 Home installed (immediately upgraded to Build 22631.3527 Enterprise). Because I usually interact with most PCs — personal, production and test/loaner units — via RDP, sticking with Home was not an option for me. It’s OK: because I’m an MVP I get a MAK key for Enterprise as part of my Visual Studio subscription. Lenovo will destroy my image upon its return anyway. But if you decide to purchase one, you can indeed configure it with Pro for a mere US$2 extra. That’s what I’d do, for sure…

I found myself a little mystified by the new Meteor Lake Intel Core Ultra 9 185HCore Ultra 9 185H CPU. Intel refers to this CPU as “formerly Meteor Lake” but doesn’t really assign a “Generation” number. Its Intel home page studiously avoids mentioning such info. My unit was built in early February 2024 according to its outside sticker. Its Intel Ark page describes it as Intel Core Ultra processors (Series 1) so it looks like NPU endowed chips are starting a new numbering scheme instead. This should be interested to see play out, expecially with Snapdragon X systems on their way into this same niche.

I also observed that read/write speeds vary significantly by USB-C port type. As you can see in the next graphic, port3 is USB -C 20Gbps, and 4 is Thunderbolt 4. These produce “interesting” benchmark results where one is noticeably faster than the other for some values. Indeed, TB4 is faster for 1M read and 4K random writes, while USB 4 is faster for 1M write and 4K random reads. Others are more or less a wash. I’m going to have to try faster SSDs to see if that makes a difference (I suspect it will).

Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 ports (left & right sides)
Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 ports (left & right sides) [Double-click image for full-size view]

What About AI Stuff?

I can tell that Copilot runs faster on this laptop than on other, older models (even a ThinkPad P16 Mobile workstation with a 12th-Gen i9-12950HX CPU but no NPU). But other than that I haven’t really messed around enough with Copilot and other AI functions to get a sense of the differences. Stay tuned! I only get to keep this unit for a month, so I’ll be writing about it regularly over the next few weeks.

Other Observations

Here are some bullet points that reflect other stuff I noticed while unpacking, setting up and using the new Lenovo Yoga 9 Pro:

  • The shipping materials proudly proclaim “plastic-free packaging” in several places on the boxes. Two egg-crate holders supported the laptop, with one small internal cardboard box for the brick and power cord. There was some soft material labeled 22/PAP between the upper and lower decks of the clamshell. Ditto for the label on the black bag inside which the laptop itself was sitting. The material uses a plastic-recycling symbol (three arrows forming a triangle) but lookup tells me … yep, it’s paper! Even the twist-tie that held the power cord together was covered in brown paper. Good job, Lenovo.
  • For some unholy reason, Lenovo included McAfee AV on the Yoga 9 Pro. I uninstalled it right after I performed the OS updates on that PC. Defender is fine with me: I no longer use much, if any, third party security software.
  • Have to laugh: the Copilot key is a big deal on these new Windows AI-Ready PCs. But the onscreen keyboard (Ctrl+Winkey+O) does not include such a key. I bet MS will fix this before these AI-Ready PCs get into wider circulation.
  • The Open Source Snappy Driver installer (SDIO version) gives the drives already installed on this laptop its blessing. It’s not an absolute guarantee that everything’s up to date, but it’s pretty darn close. Good-oh!
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Dev Home Now Creates VMs

A new release of the Dev Home (Preview) toolbox hit the streets on Tuesday, April 23 (v0.13). I updated but didn’t really pay much attention. Then, this morning I learned something noteworthy from WindowsLatest — namely, that you can now use Dev Home (DH) to set up and manage Windows VMs including Hyper-V instances. Because I’m working on a “How-to” story right now on such VMs, this definitely caught my eye. And indeed, on a test PC, I see strong evidence that Dev Home now creates VMs. Not too much effort involved, either…

If Dev Home Now Creates VMs, Then What?

It took me a while to get where I needed to go with setting the right environment toggles. Eventually, I settled on the first three (Environments Creation, Environments Management, and Environments Configuration) and turned all three on. Then, I had to close and re-open Dev Home to gain the ability to actually use the “Create environment” button.  It’s hiding in the upper right corner of the lead-in image; you can see it up there if you check.

At that point you can give your environment a name (I called it DHWin11 to indicate I was using Dev Home to build a new test Windows 11 VM in Hyper-V). Then you pick the reference image from which it gets built. I chose the Windows 11 Development Environment option that Dev Home supplied. I’m sure I could have navigated to another ISO of my choosing.

Take a While, But Gets Things Right…

It took over 15 minutes for the setup, download, and install processes to get far enough along to do something. But gosh, I was able to get into the Hyper-V window to fire things off, then get to the desktop with no hiccups or gotchas along the way inside RDP. Things don’t work that well using Hyper-V Manager.

I found myself running a 22H2 Windows 11 instance labeled “Windows 11 Enterprise Evaluation” for Build 22621.3447. I know from prior experience this is a 30-day eval or thereabouts. Indeed, Copilot tells me it expires on June 19, 2024. But gosh, this makes standing up and using a plain-vanilla Hyper-V VM as easy as it’s ever been in my personal experience.

Now, I need to do it again, and use an image of my own choosing. That should be interesting! Stay tuned, I’ll write about this soon. Meanwhile, you can see that VM running on my P16 test PC as shown in an RDP window for the whole shebang.

Wow! That was almost TOO EASY. I must say, I’m impressed. Need more time and exploration to really formulate a more useful opinion, though. First look is a doozy, though.

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Hope MS Makes Good on Classic Teams Uninstall

I’ve got to admit: I’ve lost count. I’ve seen oodles of updates and versions of Teams come and go on my various Windows 10 and 11 PCs lately. Take a look at Monday’s MS Teams article “End of availability for classic Teams client.”  Among much other stuff it says “This rollout involves installing the new Teams client for users who still have the classic Teams client, with Microsoft attempting to uninstall the classic Teams client 14 days after the installation of new Teams.” Gosh, I hope MS makes good on Classic Teams uninstall promises.

Why I Hope MS Makes Good on Classic Teams Uninstall

I’ve tried uninstalling Classic Teams on Windows 10 PCs and VMs. (Note: I do NOT have this issue on Windows 11 PCs of any build or version, stable or Insider Preview channels.) But it often returns to those Windows desktops on its own, through means mysterious and marvelous. In short: it’s attaining zombie-like status except it doesn’t relentlessly chant “Brains! Brains! Brains!”

Better (or worse) still, when I try to use Teams on Windows 10 (it’s still my production work environment), Classic tends to come up by default. I know why — it’s because I use MSAs that aren’t part of an AD/Entra domain — but it’s still irksome.

Gosh! I’ll be glad when July 1 comes and goes and I get to see if the zombie that is Classic Teams will finally get exorcized — err, uninstalled — from my Windows 10 PCs and VMs. Stay tuned! I’ll keep you posted. Fingers crossed, in the meantime. . .

Results from Remove/Replace Operation

Just for grins, I used Revo Uninstaller to get rid of all Teams traces on my production PC. Then I went to the MS Store to download and install its latest version. When I launched for the first time, it asked me if I wanted Teams (New) or Teams (Classic). I chose (New) and now it comes up in the Start menu with no Classic companion. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if Classic lurches back to life!

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IPRI Hits Production Windows 11

I’m not sure exactly how long this has been true but Copilot agrees with me that it first appeared in 23H2 Build 22631.3447. Release date for that build: April 9, 2024. It had been available in Insider Previews since earlier this year, but this is when in-place repair install (IPRI) first showed in a production release. Now that IPRI hits production Windows 11, it’s ever so much easier to let WU provide the files to make that happen. Good stuff.

What IPRI Hits Production Windows 11 Means

Before this facility appeared in various Windows 11 versions, the only way to conduct such a repair was to use UUPdump.net to build an ISO that matched the current installed Windows version, then mount same, and run setup.exe from its root-level folder (see red-boxed item in the screencap following):

IPRI Hits Production Windows 11.setup.exe

The old-school IPRI method requires an ISO for the same version.build that’s running, then launching setup.exe from its root-level folder.

Now, with this change you need only navigate to Settings > System > Recovery, then click the “Reinstall now” button as shown in the lead-in graphic. Windows Update does the rest. It does take a while (50-60 minutes in recent test runs for a ComputerWorld story) but that’s because it has to download all the component files, then build and update an ISO. Adding install time to the time UUPDump.net takes to create the ISO, it’s pretty much a wash.

And again: it’s ever so much more convenient and automated. Big win for Windows users everywhere. Thanks, MS!

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Varying Office Visions for Up-to-date

Here’s an odd one: I find myself trying to reconcile varying office visions for up-to-date. I’ve got a Microsoft 365 Subscription on the one hand, and the Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise – en-us on the other. Both currently stand at version 16.0.17425.20176. The update checker in the application version (top of lead-in graphic) says it’s up to date. WinGet, however, wants to update the apps version to 16.0.17531.20046, says it’s succeeding, but not getting anywhere. What to do: yikes!

Reconciling Varying Office Visions for Up-to-date

I blogged about a similar gotcha last month (Office Update Hiccup Is Easily Fixed: March 11). Alas, this time the same fix (Repair the office install, then try again) does NOT appear to resolve the issue. Indeed, even though I tell it to fix the apps version, the repair tool works on the subscription version anyway.

Despite some interesting discussion and suggestions at Microsoft.Answers, I can’t get any of their proposed “other fixes” to work, either. Sometimes, when updates get wonky, you just have to wait for MS to get the picture and provide fixes from their side. Methinks this could be one of those times. Indeed, I’ve spent enough time trying to handle this myself, so I’ve decided to wait for a next update and see if that fixes things.

Ain’t that just the way things go from time to time, here in Windows-World? Rhetorical question, I know, but my answer is “Yes!”

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Bring Up Start Menu Inside Start11v2

Here’s something I hadn’t noticed, nor yet learned how to fix. Seems that there’s no entry in the UI for Start11v2 in “Windows Pro style” for the built-in Windows 11 Start menu. But there’s a trick to bring up Start menu inside Start11v2. That method lurks behind the lead-in graphic which shows all of the available styles and the one I currently have selected — namely “Windows Pro style.”

The Trick to Bring Up Start Menu Inside Start11v2

This trick depends on features available in the Windows 7 style that are missing from Windows Pro (and other more modern styles):

1. Switch to Windows 7 style view
2. Open the Start menu
3. Find the entry that reads “Windows Menu”
4. Right-click that item and select “Pin to start”
5. Inside Start11v2 UI, switch back to Windows Pro style

Now, you can see the “Windows Menu” entry at the lower left of the default app icon grid inside Start11v2.  If you hold down the CTRL key, you can drag that item and put it wherever you like.

Bring Up Start Menu Inside Start11v2.Windows Menu

I used that technique to move it to the upper-left corner position where I can see it more quickly and easily.

Bring Up Start Menu Inside Start11v2.oldmenuulWhy Use the Built-in Start Menu, Anyway?

Some things in Windows 11 don’t work unless you can access the built-in Start menu rather than a third-party version (e.g. Stardock’s various versions, StartAllBack, Open Shell Menu, and so forth).

In this case I wanted to see if a new feature providing access to MS account info directly from the start menu in Beta Build 22635.3500 was present or absent. It’s apparently on a gradual rollout. And, in keeping with my unbroken track record so far, that feature is not yet available on this PC. Go figure!

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Busy Week Brings 9 WinGet Updates

It’s been a busy week, so I’ve been doing stuff more, and playing less with Windows. How do I know? I just ran WinGet on my production desktop and it tossed up a new personal high. That’s right: my busy week brings 9 WinGet updates to my Windows Terminal PowerShell session. You can see the intro part in the lead-in graphic. Wow!

When Busy Week Brings 9 WinGet Updates, Install Them

So that’s what I’m doing right now, as I write this blog post. The whole 9 items took about 2 minutes to complete. It brought 8 successes and one failure. Because I have numerous M365 components open right now, the M365 Apps for Enterprise install failed. That’s probably because I’m using a different subscription version tied to a different MSA. The one I’m using cheerfully reports itself all caught up.

It’s the one I’m NOT using that reports itself out-of-date (which is perfectly OK, because I’m not using it. Maybe I should remove it?) Isn’t it funny how using multiple MSAs in a Windows PC can occasionally make life interesting when you login with one such account, and use assets tied to another such account?

It’s All Part of Windows’ Inestimable Charms…

Learning where the eccentricities reside or potholes lie, and steering around them, gives me countless opportunities for learning and enjoyment when it comes to working with Windows. But less so than usual this week: I’m busy. In fact, I need to go do some paying work as soon as I’m done here. Cheers!

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Reboot After NVIDIA 552.22 . . . Or Else!

I updated my production desktop with its RTX 3070 Ti GPU yesterday. When that process completed, the installer asked me if I wanted to restart now or wait until later. Because I was busy working, I elected later. Then in the usual crush of a frenetic afternoon, I completely forgot that reminder. It came back crashing down upon me this morning when I noticed that graphics performance was discernibly laggy. “Aha!” I thought to myself: “The reminder should have said ‘Reboot after NVIDIA 552.22 . . . or else suffer the consequences.”

Why Reboot After NVIDIA 552.22 Update?

That was the question I asked yesterday when the installer gave its reminder. I got my answer this morning when I noticed that graphics performance was visibly slower than usual. Turns out that while the 552.22 release notes don’t explicitly say “You must reboot upon installing,” it’s considered a best practice to do so when updating a big, complex driver like the one that drives a relatively modern GPU.

That’s probably why the installer asked me to reboot when it finished. I got my demonstration this morning, after forcing my system to sleep at 4-something AM this morning when I saw the monitor was on after wandering around on a predictable nocturnal mission.

Next Time, I’ll Do It When I Quit for the Day

Upon reflection, I now realize something obvious. When I got up from my PC in the evening, with no intent to return until the next morning, that would’ve been the ideal time to reboot. As it is, I had to wait around 90 seconds, all told, for the machine to shut down, restart and reboot to the desktop. Tolerable, but not the smartest way to take the NVIDIA installer’s apt advice.

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